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Sports-Based Movies For Sports Enthusiasts

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Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash


Sports are awesome. Whether you’re actually involved in physical sports activities or simply watching live sport events at home, either way, you will always enjoy it if you’re a sport aficionado! As much as sports lovers love to watch the games, some people love to watch movies that are sports-inspired too!

In the world of sports movies, there are some emotional favorites that we look back on with fond memories and are easy to relate to. In the case of athletes, the audience tends to be highly competitive and passionate about their sport, so many movies about sports enthusiasts are centered around the ups and downs of an athlete, especially when the athlete has won a coveted title.

Sports movies have been popular with movie-goers for a long time and continue to be a strong draw for audiences. In this article, we’ll look at eight sports movies with an emotional edge over typical sports movies and how to watch them and enjoy them even more.


Hoop Dreams

This story of urban aspirations began as a concept for a 30-minute documentary short about playground hoopsters, sparked by its creators’ common enthusiasm for the sport. The three hours then became an epic journey of high school students William Gates and Arthur Agee’s pursuit of an NBA career.

A historic American documentary, “Playing for Keeps,” is the loving creation of directors Steve James, Peter Gilbert, and Frederick Marx. (Perhaps no one free throw in film history has ever been more nerve-wracking than this one.) The hardships of daily life that sports can only temporarily distract us from are examined in Hoop Dreams, making the film even more impactful.



Remember when Rocky Balboa was viewed not as a symbol of bumbling Reagan-era jingoism but as a heroic defender of the working class? There was good reason for the original Rocky film to win an Academy Award: A down-on-his-luck boxer gets one last, unusual chance to prove himself against the World Heavyweight Champion (Carl Weathers; just because you’re an enemy doesn’t mean you can’t have a soul), and the result is a remarkably lived-in, sympathetic drama.

If you’re looking for symbolism in a sports film, you won’t find a finer example than Rocky’s relentless pursuit of the undefeated Creed, dressed in red, white, and blue — the American dream as Sisyphean beating.


When We Were Kings

After traveling to Zaire in 1974 to shoot the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman fight, Rumble in the Jungle, filmmaker Leon Gast spent over 20 years trying to get money. This perseverance was rewarded: with the advantage of hindsight gained over two decades, his Oscar-winning documentary is essentially the final, all-encompassing word on the iconic fight, featuring interviews with luminaries like Norman Mailer and George Plimpton, as well as a behind-the-scenes video of the Greatest’s training and the moment he reclaims his title. Ali was the underdog in the fight because he was challenging the unbeaten heavyweight champion, a move that many people at the time considered foolish and that many predicted would result in carnage. You might not think the people’s champ is unbeatable, but you might change your mind after seeing him run through busy African streets while kids sing his name.



Before he died in an accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, Brazil’s Ayrton Senna had become a national hero and the likable face of the Formula One circuit. Home movies, press conferences, off-camera interviews, and in-car footage from driver Asif Kapadia helped piece together a career that was never without drama, including a heated rivalry with French driver and former teammate Alain Prost.

While it would be exciting to watch a documentary about his victories, Kapadia’s ability to encapsulate an athlete’s existence exclusively through his deeds and accomplishments elevates this film above and above the let’s-all-now-praise-great-men genre.


Friday Night Lights

How do you keep the dramatic tension of a sports movie without sacrificing the realism and authenticity of the reporting? Peter Berg, the film’s director, solved the problem by striking a delicate balance between the documentary-style handheld camerawork and the soaring emotions of the players’ life off the field and on it, with the help of a rock-solid performance by Billy Bob Thornton as a passionately devoted coach.



Nuances of drama? The affluence of feeling? To heck with that; sometimes, you must be brought to tears. Step inside this mind-bending uplifting sports film, in which a troubled coach (Gene Hackman) inspires a team of underdog high school basketball players in 1950s Indiana to play their best by, get this, returning to the basics. It would be missing the point to call David Anspaugh’s feature debut as a TV filmmaker an exercise in sincere nostalgia. Hoosiers is a triumphant ode to a simpler time when David could defeat Goliath just by trying his hardest. Featuring a performance by Hackman full of rock-solid quiet decency, this narrative is told without a wink.


The Wrestler

Take a look at Randy “The Ram” Robinson, played by Mickey Rourke, an ex-superstar who gets beaten to hell anytime he entertains, and tell me he isn’t an athlete. The film, directed by Darren Aronofsky, dwells on the gory specifics of the sport (such as the use of blades by the performers to increase the visceral impact of their performances) and contrasts Ram’s bright costumes with the drab reality of his life away from the spotlight: his time spent in a dilapidated trailer and at a minimum wage job in a cold New Jersey suburb. According to the film, this is the fate of those who make a living by abusing their bodies to the point where they are mere shadows of their former selves. There is no amount of triumph at the end that can erase the gloom.



While we’re busy praising our sports heroes, it’s easy to forget that they’re just regular people with flaws and weaknesses. Brooks, played by Kurt Russell, is portrayed as a harsh coach who uses harsh training methods to prepare his young players to face off against the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Even though we know how the movie’s electrifying climax will finish, and Russell gives a terrifically flinty performance, Miracle remains captivating. It only adds poignancy to his emotion about his team’s victory.


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