25 Greatest Teams in Sports Movie History

Amber Lee@@BlamberrSports Lists Lead WriterJanuary 30, 2012

25 Greatest Teams in Sports Movie History

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    Professional sports are popular around the world because almost everyone wants something or someone they can root for. Whether it's your hometown team, or just your favorite player, it's nice to get invested and wrapped up in something outside yourself.  

    The same holds true for sports movies. The best sports movies have a cast of mostly likable characters who make up a team that is genuinely worth rooting for and allow you to get invested in their success for a couple of hours. 

    Here are 25 of the Greatest Teams in Sports Movie History.

25. Spooky Ghost Team, Field of Dreams

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    Well, in the case of Field of Dreams, it's really Kevin Costner's Ray Kinsella that we're rooting for. In real life, Kinsella would be committed for plowing his farm, and jeopardizing his family's entire livelihood, because a voice in his head told him to. 

    Field of Dreams pulls you out of reality and into a world with infinite possibilities, where dreams really do come true.

24. Average Joe's, DodgeBall

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    The reason we root for the Average Joe's is right there in the title—it's a true underdog story, and everyone loves an underdog. Vince Vaughn has an uncanny ability to bring confidence and likability to just about every character he plays, and Peter LaFleur is no exception. 

    Peter has absolutely no reason to believe he can beat his rival White Goodman, who Ben Stiller plays as Zoolander meets Dr. Evil, but he does—and does it with enough enthusiasm to make us believe it, too. 

23. T. C. Williams High School, Remember the Titans

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    Why We Root for Them:

    In an era when racial animosity would exist in a large, urban high school athletics program, Remember the Titans reminds us that the gains made during the civil rights era are not too far in the past.  

    Contrast to the cynicism of coaches like Bobby Petrino, Herman Boone (played by Denzel Washington) inspires his team to not just be great players, but better men. 

22. Rancho Carney Toros, Bring It on

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    Cheerleaders aren't always easy to root for, and without captain Torrance Shipman (played by Kirsten Dunst) acting as their moral compass, this group of girls would have been downright loathsome. 

    When Torrance learns from edgy newcomer Missy (played by Eliza Dushku) that the Toros former captain had lifted all of their award winning routines from the East Compton Clovers, she set out on a course to right the wrongs. 

    It took awhile to get everyone on board with doing the right thing, but when they celebrate their second place finish at nationals as if they won, you know everyone involved walked away a better person. 

21. Chazz & Jimmy, Blades of Glory

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    When skeevy sex addict Chazz Michael Michaels (played by Will Ferrell) and his rather effeminate rival Jimmy MacElroy are banned from men's singles figure skating after fighting on the podium following a tie, they aren't exactly worth rooting for. 

    But all that changes when they come together as the most combative and homoerotic pair in the history of couples figure skating. Why it changes is a testament to the genius of Will Ferrell. 

20. Miami Sharks, Any Given Sunday

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    We root for the Miami Sharks in Any Given Sunday because it touches on a lot of themes that are common in the NFL. The Sharks are a once-great franchise that are struggling to regain stability and success.

    Their coach, Tony D'Amato, is a 30-year-veteran who isn't just coaching for the success of a single season, he's coaching to repair and solidify his legacy. The Owner and GM, Christina Pagniacci, inherited the team from her father and takes a personal role in trying to turn the team around.

    And, of course, the team has only two types of personalities—big personalities, and bigger personalities. 

19. Minnesota Twins, Little Big League

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    When 12-year-old Billy Heywood inherits the Minnesota Twins from his grandfather, he realizes that the management and many of the players have forgot how lucky they are to be doing what they're doing. Heywood becomes determined to manage the team and bring fun back to baseball.

    While he definitely stumbles along the way, even falling victim to the very same mentality he once derided, Heywood is ultimately successful in changing the prevailing attitude in the clubhouse, and restoring his beloved Twins to their winning ways. 

18. Texas State University, Necessary Roughness

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    America loves an underdog and, more specifically, an individual who perseveres despite checking off every box for why he or she shouldn’t be a winner.  

    Considering the rash of NCAA scandals, and worse, many big-time programs are going to have to win with less—a problem confronting the Texas State University Fightin' Armadillos. 

    Paul Blake, a 34-year-old quarterbacl played by Scott Bakula (of Quantum Leap fame) leads a team of replacements and ne’er do wells in the comedy Necessary Roughness.

17. Lincoln High Cheerleaders, Sugar & Spice

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    Why We Root for Them

    On the surface Sugar & Spice is a story about an exclusive group of cheerleaders, one of which gets knocked up by the star quarterback, who decide to rob a bank in order to support their future endeavors. 

    Dig a little deeper and you'll find a smart and crafty group of girls who are such devoted friends that they will stop at absolutely nothing to ensure the financial well being of their friend and her unborn baby after she and her boyfriend are thrown out of their houses by their jerk parents.

    It's really quite touching. 

16. The Ducks, the Mighty Ducks

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    This is the ultimate story of redemption. When hot-shot lawyer Gordon Bombay (played by Emilio Estevez) is arrested for DUI, he gets sentenced to public service coaching a youth hockey team. Fitting since he hates hockey and doesn't like kids. 

    The team Bombay has to coach barely qualifies as a hockey team. They don't have uniforms, most of them can't even skate and the goalie is afraid to get hit with the puck. Oh Goldberg, you lovable scamp!

    Well, much to his own surprise, Bombay becomes increasingly invested in the kids and their success. First he teaches them the basics and then he teaches them how to win—defeating the team of the coach that led to the once promising Bombay to quitting hockey as a youth. Yay!

15. The Sentinels, the Replacements

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    One of the defining moments of the 1987 NFL strike was when the owners moved forward with the season in Week 4, hiring replacement “scab” players.

    The Replacements is inspired by this fascinating moment in ProFootball history, and the fictional Washington Sentinels capture the competing dynamic at the time—for every veteran on the picket line, a new opportunity is out there for someone else. 

14. The Bears, Bad News Bears

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    Are you sick of movies that revolve around the success of the…predictably successful? If you suffered through childhood being an average, or bad player, on an even worse little league team, then the Bad News Bears should be a cathartic experience.  

    There is no team more subversive and entertaining to pull for than a baseball team that shouldn’t win—one led by a hardscrabble girl no less.

13. Pittsburgh Pythons, the Fish That Saved Pittsburgh

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    In The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Pythons' long reign of losing and general futility has made them a joke in the city (basically they are the Pirates). Many of the team's players have ditched town, partly because of their epic losing ways, and party because of their talented but tempestuous star player Moses Guthrie (played by Julius Erving!). 

    Needing a miracle, the team's ballboy enlists the help of an astrologer to come up with a winning strategy. They decide to compose the team entirely of players born under the astrological sign Pisces, the same sign as Moses Gurthrie. 

    Naturally this is wildly successful and the team, and Moses, are reborn winners! A little magic, a little will and a lotta WTF? Something for everyone. 

12. Permian High School, Friday Night Lights

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    Why We Root for Them:

    Most athletes are characterized by their statistics. A high school recruit is 3-stars, a draft prospect is a 40-time. In an era of big money contracts, 24/7 media attention, and profiteering without boundaries, it’s easy to forget how football—especially high school football—is woven into the fabric of communities.

    Friday Night Lights—based on a book by the same name—provides a window into this reality as it follows how individuals, families and a town are intertwined into the hopes of Odessa, Texas’ Permian High School Panthers. 

11. The Chiefs, Slap Shot

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    Why We Root for Them:  

    Because they've got it all—lovable losers and bespectacled violent goods with child-like mentalities.

    Well maybe not, but the point of Slap Shot isn't to root for the Chiefs. The point is to root for violence as a way to solve all of life's problems. Awesome, right?

10. The Sandlot

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    When you were a kid, the allure of playing sports was never greater than on those lazy summer days in the sandlot.

    Democratic and competitive enough to be fun without the pressure of an organized league, who doesn’t have fond memories of looking for a lost foul ball or using an old t-shirt to mark home-plate?

    This movie, which follows Scotty Smalls—a newcomer to his neighborhood—as he makes new friends while learning how to be a baseball player. What’s not to root for?

9. Lincoln High, He Got Game

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    Why We Root for Them:

    Well, we root for Jesus Shuttlesworth (played by Ray Allen) and by extension the rest of his team.

    Despite growing up without either of his parents—his father was in prison for killing his mother—Shuttlesworth beat the odds and grew up to be a talented and likable young man. He also happens to be the top-ranked basketball prospect in the country. 

8. The Beers, BASEketball

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    Why We Root for Them:  

    If you can't see a little of yourself in Coop and Reemer, surely you can see some of the people you went to high school with.

    They took a few years off to have fun and find themselves after high school and before they know it, a decade has passed and it seems everyone in their graduating class has made something of themselves but them. 

    In real life that's usually where the story ends, but Coop and Reemer achieve the seemingly impossible when they find fame and fortune by combining their talent at Horse with their ability to be distractingly disgusting and creating BASEketball.

    A couple of losers make it big—it's the American dream at work!

7. Marshall, We Are Marshall

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    In 1970, nearly the entire Marshall Thundering Herd football team perished in a horrific plane crash. It is one of the greatest tragedies in American sports history.  

    The remarkable story of how the football program, university, and students came together to field a team, as a both a tribute and a way to begin the healing process, is simply an idea that cannot be duplicated in fiction.  

    Coach Jack Lengyel and his team transcend winning and represent everything honorable and good about collegiate athletics.

6. Dennit Racing, Talladega Nights

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    Why We Root for Them:

    Dennit Racing teammates Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton Jr. are just the ultimate bros.

    No matter what they put each other through, whether it's Ricky Bobby always using Cal to catapult him to success, or Cal stealing Ricky Bobby's wife and entire life, they are always there for each other in the end.

    Shake and Bake, indeed.  

5. Hickory Basketball, Hoosiers

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    An underdog story is always the way to go if you want to win the hearts and minds of the masses. When Norman Dale (played by Gene Hackman) arrives in the rural Indiana town of hickory to coach the basketball team, he has a lot to prove because he was fired from his previous job for hitting a student. 

    The school is very small, so Dale has limited players with limited talent on the team, and the team's star player, Jimmy Chitwood, decides to take the season off to focus on his studies. He and the team struggle early, and Dale's temper gets him ejected from more than one game.

    When he enlists the help of Shooter, the alcoholic father of one of his players, he is nearly fired until Chitwood steps in and promises to return to the team if Dale stays on as coach. With Chitwood in the mix, the team becomes unstoppable and even goes on to win the 1952 Indiana State Championship. 

4. The Rockford Peaches, League of Their Own

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    Why We Root for Them:

    When World War II was threatening to shut down Major League Baseball in 1943, Walter Harvey, the owner of the Chicago Cubs, creates a women's league to make money in its absence.

    The movie follows the Rockford Peaches through the league's tumultuous first season, and every player on the team is a complex heroine worth rooting for. Even the team's alcoholic manager manages to change his image, and his life, by the end of the film. 

    In A League of Their Own, we don't just root for one player or one team, but the success of an entire league—so much so that it's almost irrelevant when Rockford loses to Racine in the World Series. 

3. West Canaan High School, Varsity Blues

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    Life in West Canaan, Texas, revolves around high school football, and the starters for the varsity team live by a very different set of rules than the rest of the town. 

    Most of the team is arrogant and entitled and display bad behavior that often crosses the line from teenage mischief into criminality—yet they remain inexplicably likable. Although that might have something to do with their comically villainous coach Bud Kilmer, played by the comically villainous Jon Voight. 

    The team and the movie itself are elevated by the fact that the West Canaan's two quarterbacks, whose status makes them almost untouchable, turn out to be the selfless heroes who follow two different paths to a future that doesn't include playing football. 

2. Cleveland Indians, Major League

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    The Indians, minus Roger Dorn, in Major League are impossible not to root for.

    First of all, we all share a common enemy in Rachel Phelps—hands down one of the most unlikable women in cinematic history. The fact that she assembled this rag-tag bunch of lovable losers to fail miserably so that she could move the team to Miami is just vile.

    Then add that to one of the most hilarious and likable casts in sports movie history, minus Roger Dorn, and an instant classic is born. And, unlike in real life, Cleveland finally caught a break in the end—and the Indians won the pennant. 

1. Team USA, Miracle

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    Why We Root for Them: 

    Everyone knows that Miracle is the story of the improbable victory of the United States' men's hockey team over the heavily favored Soviet team at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.  

    But it goes without saying that Miracle isn't just a movie about hockey, or the Olympics or even sports. (Warning: This is about to get seriously patriotic.) In reality, this is a story about America, freedom and the ultimate triumph of democracy over communism and the eventual end of the Cold War. Sure that didn't all happen in its entirety in 1980—but it did within the next decade.  

    The day after the loss, the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS) office in Lake Placid had a handwritten note taped to the door that read, "Today Closed We Are." Today we're afforded the benefit of hindsight and know that wasn't just a sign stating their office hours—it was a sign of things to come.