The Worst Plot Holes in Sports Movies
A plot hole is an omission or inconsistency in a story that defies logic established within a film and sometimes from the outside world. They can be relatively minor without impacting the overall story or they can be massive movie ruiners.
The bigger and more complicated a story is, the more likely it is to be riddled with plot holes. The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Independence Day and the Back to the Future are among the movies well known for glaring plot holes.
Sports films, on the other hand, are far less prone to plot holes. Comedy or drama, they tend to be set in the real world—or some version of it—and revolve around real people doing real things. If you can't get that right, you probably shouldn't be making movies.
Although, that doesn't mean sports movies are completely immune from the occasional plot hole. Here are 17 of the worst plot holes in sports movies.
Just keep in mind that we're operating with a sliding scale. So worst is relative to the genre and only a couple are particularly egregious.
Major League is a classic and one of the comedies—particularly those from the 80s—that truly stands the test of time. It's been nearly 25 years since it was released and, aside from that notorious 80s fashion, it doesn't feel dated. It does, however, have one pretty obvious plot hole.
Plot Hole: In the film Indians owner Rachel Phelps is cartoonishly villainous in her plot to tank the season, which would get her out of a stadium lease and allow the team to move to Miami.
We all know she was thwarted by the bunch of nobodies she hired to help achieve that goal. She who hires can also fire. So why didn't Phelps just cut anyone useful when they were winning?
Probably because making them suffer was funnier…but still. She also continues complaining about the team's success long after it's clear her plan is foiled—you'd think she'd be happy about the financial benefits of making the playoffs, at the very least.
In Slap Shot the Chiefs are struggling on the ice, which naturally leads to sagging attendance. They decide to bring in the notorious Hanson brothers to combat both issues.
Plot Hole: Apparently those boys were hockey gods—Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier rolled into one—because in their very first game they play in front of a packed house. Guess word traveled fast.
There was also quite a big lie perpetrated by player Reggie Dunlop, who misleads pretty much everyone into thinking the team's sale was imminent in an attempt to flush out their anonymous owner. And no one is the least bit concerned with stopping him.
Little Big League
In Little Big League, initially lovable, then loathsome, then kinda lovable again 12-year-old Billy Heywood inherits his beloved Minnesota Twins after the tragic loss of his grandfather.
Plot Hole: One of Heywood's first acts as an owner is installing himself as manager. Obviously the best plan ever…except that MLB expressly prohibits anyone with an ownership stake in a team acting as manager.
In Varsity Blues unconventional quarterback John Moxon is, presumably, the first football player in the history of West Canaan to ever question the motives and methods of legendary/legendarily evil coach Bud Kilmer.
Plot Hole: In the film's final locker room scene, the rest of the team finally sees what Mox had seen all along and refuse to retake the field with Kilmer. The coach leaves and wanders around outside like an old man lost at the grocery store.
But, when the team retakes the field there are no other coaches there either. The assistant coaches definitely didn't leave with Kilmer, and they're certainly not out with the players. I guess they were just shootin' the s**t in the locker room.
Teen Wolf is a delightful 80s romp about a decidedly average Nebraska high school student named Scott Howard who is sick of being average. Then BOOM. He's a werewolf.
Plot Hole: Given how true to real life the plot of the movie feels, it's surprising someone didn't give the palm trees seen in the movie a second thought. Ya know, since there are no palm trees in Nebraska.
Remember the Titans
Remember the Titans is a movie based on the true story of Herman Boone, an African American head coach attempting to unify a racially divided high school football team in the early '70s.
Plot Hole: At several points in the film, many of which are critical, players on a team that has recovered a fumble are seen advancing the ball despite it being against the rules in 1971.
D2: The Mighty Ducks
I'm going to skip the obvious plot hole in D2: The Mighty Ducks, which is why the Ducks are chosen to represent the entire United States at the Goodwill Games. Even if Gordon Bombay is the coach, it's still very strange.
Mike Babcock is the coach of Canada's national men's hockey team. That doesn't mean he can bring all the Red Wings with him. Whatever though, that's just the accepted premise of the entire movie.
Plot Hole: The real issue is the supposed ringers brought in from all over the country to supplement the team. They were said to be "the best of the best."
Really? The best of the best includes Luis Mendoza? He can skate circles around anyone…right before he crashes into the wall because he can't stop. It's stunning that Iceland didn't win.
The Sandlot is the favorite classic sports movie of 90 percent of people born between 1982 and 1989. Something about that ragtag bunch of (mostly) lovable (mostly) losers just speaks to that bunch.
Plot Hole: Much of the movie plot is advanced by Scotty's terrible decision to use his stepfather's prized baseball, which was signed by Babe Ruth, when he and his friends run out of balls.
But they weren't really out of balls. Apparently he was still in possession of the ball he and Bill were playing catch with when he got his black eye. He definitely should've used that one instead.
Rookie of the Year
Rookie of the Year is another adorable kids classic that we have to ignore is entirely based on a plot hole. Everything about how Henry Rowengartner ends up with, possesses and eventually loses his superhuman pitching abilities is ridiculous. Not that it matters, because I still love the movie.
Plot Hole: Honestly, I can get on board with all of the tomfoolery right up until Rowengartner's final inning on the mound for the Cubs when his arm suddenly goes back to normal.
With an aging Chet "Rocket" Stedman permanently sidelined with some kind of rotator cuff thing, Rowengartner is forced to improve because, apparently, he and Rocket are the only pitchers on the roster.
He comes up big with the hidden ball trick, but just when it looks like he's out of ideas, his mom suggests from the stands that he "float it." The floater was her go-to pitch back in her ball playing days. Obviously, it totally works!
Oh wait…pitching underhand is not allowed in MLB. Oh…and wait…exactly how close was the pitcher's mound to the stands? I'm thinking it's far enough away to be considered conversation prohibitive.
While in a college science class taught by Colonel Sanders, The Waterboy's Bobby Boucher answers the professor's question about alligator aggression by dropping some knowledge passed on to him by his Mama.
"Mama says alligators are ornery because they've got all them teeth and no toothbrush."
Plot Hole: Everyone has a good laugh at Bobby's expense and then a nerd in one of the front rows explains that it's actually because of an enlarged medulla oblongata, which he claims is the portion of the brain that regulates aggression.
Yeah…except it isn't! The medulla oblongata controls basic functions like breathing, digestion, blood vessel function, swallowing and sneezing. Nice try, nerd.
The Longest Yard
I realize that pointing out a plothole in an Adam Sandler movie is kind of ridiculous since everything about his films tends to be based in an alternate reality.
The Longest Yard is actually a remake of another movie and, therefore, not another rehash of a story in which a man of questionable intelligence and likability conquers his own world. Wait…is it possible all of his characters are just exaggerated versions of himself? Nevermind.
Plot Hole: The issue in this film is that the cooky inmates seem to have unfettered access to pretty much everywhere in the prison. The guard locker room and the office with their personnel files are among the areas not entirely off limits to them.
Have you ever seen Lockup on MSNBC? Some inmates are literally supervised while in the shower shaving to prevent them from repurposing their razors into deadly weapons.
In Mr. 3000, the late, great Bernie Mack plays a baseball slugger who retires immediately after his 3,000th hit. Years later, it turns out, that through some inexplicable mistake somewhere in MLB stat land, Stan Ross only technically has 2,997 hits.
Plot Hole: Years after Ross' retirement he had still not been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, largely due to the error. So, he comes back at age 47, eventually gets his hits, retires and is whisked into the HOF.
Everyone knows you aren't eligible for the HOF until five years after retirement—and back retirement doesn't count if you return to the game! This would've been easily solved with a "…and 5 years later…" ending.
Field of Dreams
If you ask me, Field of Dreams is nothing but plot holes. I've never read it, but I've always heard it works much better as a book. Which is good because the movie is a bit of a mess.
Plot Hole: Ray and Annie Kinsella have a daughter in the movie, Karin Kinsella, played by actress Gaby Hoffman, who was seven years old at the time—well below high school years.
Yet early on, both Ray and Annie attend a PTA meeting regarding a ridiculous resolution to ban books. PTA stands for parent-teacher association—that's who attends the meetings.
Parents…teachers…and your friendly neighborhood crazy persons.
In Lucas the late Corey Haim plays a 14-year-old stereotypical 80s nerd. Meaning that he's in love with a girl who is out of his league, is terrible at football and is an avid collector of insects.
Mercilessly bullied, he hates the superficialities of the popular kids, but obviously longs to be one of them.
Plot Hole: Lucas encounters the girl of his dreams while out bug collecting and he goes on about the life cycle of the locust, which later comes up in the film.
Well, it looks like Mr. Bug Expert needs a bug expert. That thing isn't a locust—it's a cicada.
As The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies points out, the beloved classic Hoosiers has a "plot hole large enough that Robert "Tractor" Traylor could drive through it. Rather than attempt to paraphrase it, I'll just let you read it yourself.
Plot Hole: "In the first practice Buddy quits the team and persuades Whit to follow. A few scenes later, Whit apologizes and Coach Dale allows him to return.
But Buddy? As far as we know, he's gone, perhaps off to Terhune High. Midway through the film, however, Buddy is suddenly playing for Hickory in a crucial game."
Apparently there was a scene cut from the movie which would've explained that, at some point, Buddy comes beg and begs to rejoin the team. Coach Dale…such a sap.
The Mighty Ducks
Early on in The Mighty Ducks, Gordon Bombay shows up in a limo to meet the lovable loser youth hockey team he's been sentenced to coach as community service.
Naturally, he has his chauffeur drive right onto the ice which, as an adult, is actually as dangerous as Charlie's mom made it out to be. In my youth, I thought she was being an overly dramatic nutburger.
Plot Hole: One of the first players he meets is Greg Goldberg, the goalie. For some reason Goldberger offers up unsolicited information about his family's imminent move to Philadelphia.
The move never happens and it's never addressed again.
The Karate Kid
Chronicling Daniel LaRusso's unlikely rise to glory as a martial arts master, The Karate Kid is your standard 80s "messer becomes the messee" coming-of-age story.
Plot Hole: It's kind of a big one. When LaRusso's ongoing battle against Johnny Lawrence comes to a head in the film's penultimate scene, there's only one rule: No kicks to the face.
Anyone remember how Daniel won the fight? Here's a hint: It was with a kick to the face. Poor Johnny Lawrence—dude was robbed.