The 20 Best Sports Movie Trailers Ever Made (With Video)
Everyone knows the movie trailer guy. Viewers can recite great one-liners better than historical dates.
Musical scores tug at emotions—during both wins and losses—and take home Academy Awards.
From hockey to boxing, classic sports movies have covered them all.
Some of the most beloved films to hit the big screen included underdogs and champions.
But instead of another list about the top movies, what about the best trailers?
Is it too long and formulaic? Does it give away the entire plot? Is creativity involved?
Taking into account these and other elements, here are the 20 best sports movie trailers of all time.
Honorable Mention: Space Jam
At a brisk 87 seconds, it's true that "you won't believe your eyes."
Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny teamed up with the rest of the Looney Tunes characters for "Space Jam."
Forget the Dream Team. Jordan and his friends need to stop the Mean Team!
Bill Murray manages to keep a straight face and proclaim that he doesn't play defense.
Tall NBA players like Patrick Ewing hit their heads on a hospital's low door frame.
2 Unlimited's "Get Ready for This" became infamous.
And what about that kiss at the end?
No. 20 Cool Runnings
"Always remember: Your bones will not break in a bobsled. No, Bo. They shatter."
So begins the trailer for "Cool Runnings."
In its true comedic tone, only one brave man remains in the room after seeing footage of the winter sport.
Some of the film's best moments—Sanka (Doug E. Doug) in the ice cream truck and the Jamaican bobsled team avoiding the exit at Calgary International Airport—can be found in the trailer.
"How will I know if I'm enough?" "When you cross that finish line."
Way to foreshadow it, John Candy.
No. 19 For Love of the Game
The "For Love of the Game" trailer starts with a great monologue from the TV broadcaster.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel, who has gone more than 4,000 innings in his career, sees it winding down at the age of 40.
"But tonight he's pitching against time, against future, against age, against endings. Tonight, he will make the fateful walk to the loneliest spot in the world. The pitching mound at Yankee Stadium to push the sun back into the sky and give us one more day of summer."
That is all.
No. 18 The Karate Kid
"This is it. This is the end of the line."
At first, Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) can't stand the move he and his mom made to California.
He actually misses his old home in New Jersey.
The first minute or so of "The Karate Kid" trailer details how he finds the right girl, but she's already taken by a guy who wants to fight him.
Beautiful cinematography paints some of the memorable scenes along the beach as Larusso practices balancing.
Plenty of bonsai trees go around. As do the 1980s music and movie trailer guy.
But where's the "wax on, wax off" line to rally the audience?
No. 17 Remember the Titans
Coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) asks Petey Jones (Donald Faison) if he thinks football is fun.
It sets the pretense for the rest of "Remember the Titans."
Motown music plays in the background. A young and cute Hayden Panettiere shows off her football knowledge as the coach's daughter.
In case a viewer didn't have a clue what the film is about, there's footage of racial fighting and then bonding.
Football hits get paired with romance bits. The Titans show off their dance moves for the opposition prior to a game. Boone gives a cinematical speech
"I don't care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other."
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is a fitting song to tie into the film.
No. 16 Enter the Dragon
Roper, Williams, and Lee.
What better way to introduce the trio that would bring martial arts to a Hollywood studio than by showing their faces and saying their names?
That's exactly what the "Enter the Dragon" trailer does.
A voice-over explains the b-roll plus plot efficiently and concisely in a very early-1970s way.
"Just when they think they've broken the secret of the island, they find that there's no escape from the inscrutable Han."
No. 15 The Wrestler
"Witness the resurrection" of Mickey Rourke is right.
The small-budget film, "The Wrestler," by Darren Aronofsky made Rourke relevant again.
It starts with lines from critics' reviews as Randy the Ram gets ready to wrestle.
Many were surprised when Bruce Springsteen's song wasn't nominated for Best Original Song, and its impact in the trailer is undeniable.
Randy acts playful at the grocery store, takes photos with fans, and is revered by the other wrestlers.
But the emotion makes this more than just a wrestling film about a has-been.
Rourke is brought to tears.
"A lot of people told me that I'd never wrestle again. The only one who can tell me when I'm through doing my thing is you people out here."
Art imitates life.
No. 14 We Are Marshall
Someone prematurely states that the team is almost home as Marshall football sits on a plane.
Flash back to a big hit from the game and then impact in the air.
A heart beat encompasses the trailer for "We Are Marshall" as people rush to the scene.
"All 75 people are dead... in the greatest disaster in college sports history."
Quick clips show family and friends at the graveyard. A fiancée wishes to give back her ring to the player's father.
Three guys leftover from the varsity team await a meeting. Threats continue to riddle a program on the brink of collapse.
"In a moment" proves to be a worthy tagline.
The marching band plays a fight song. From the ashes comes rebirth.
"This is not about a game. It's is about what happened to this town."
Like many other sports films, if it doesn't get the viewer teary, not much will.
No. 13 Bend It Like Beckham
It's the movie that shot Keira Knightley to fame.
Finally, an actual girl power sports movie that became a hit around the world.
And about soccer in "Bend It Like Beckham!"
"Some girls only want one thing."
Jess (Parminder Nagra) is not one of those girls interested in a wedding.
Cue footage of a soccer ball to a guy's crotch and her moves à la David Beckham. What makes it even better is it gets paired up with an actual clip of Becks.
Or "skin head," according to her mum.
The same problem haunts Jules (Knightley) as her family disapproves.
"All I'm saying is there's a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one of them without a fella."
That may be the case, but at least the characters and movie kick you-know-what.
No. 12 Rocky
Although it's one of the greatest all-time sports films, the trailer doesn't do "Rocky" justice.
Even with Bill Conti's score opening things up, a three-minute run time is too long.
Then there are the awkward block-lettered ROCKY transitions. And seemingly the entire film for all to see.
Except "Yo, Adrian" and his run up Philly's art museum stairs.
It takes more than two minutes for actual training and boxing footage to be shown.
No. 11 Hoosiers
The "Hoosiers" trailer wastes no time getting down to business, allowing Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) to explain what the six individuals did to make the team.
"They needed a second chance to finish first."
There's great dialogue from Shooter, played by Dennis Hopper, who was nominated for an Oscar.
For the town, its people can be summed up by this: "My boys only know basketball, farming, and school."
Dale gives a powerful motivational speech, and tells off a teacher.
"You know, most people would kill to be treated like a god, even for just a few moments."
Not much of the plot is left to figure out as there is even footage of lineup announcements for the championship game!
Also a downside is the underused musical score by Jerry Goldsmith, which received an Oscar nomination.
It can barely be heard in the background.
No. 10 Invictus
"I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul/I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul."
Morgan Freeman has already played God twice, so Nelson Mandela had to be a piece a cake, right?
With his made-for-movie-trailer voice, it is he who leads the trailer for "Invictus."
The role earned him an Oscar nomination and brief glimpses into the film use quick cuts of scenes and subtitles.
"Tell me, François. How do we inspire ourselves to greatness when anything less will do? How do we inspire everyone around us?"
It truly was perfect timing for this movie to come out before the 2010 South African World Cup.
Though 15 years into the future, things still remain between then and now.
That's what makes the trailer's parallelism even better.
"I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul."
No. 9 Field of Dreams
"If you build it, he will come."
Walking through the cornfields and hearing a voice, it's not the movie "Signs."
There's nothing menacing to watch out for in "Field of Dreams." It's pure fantasy.
The neighborhood makes fun of Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) and his wife says it's probably not a good thing that he hears a voice.
In the trailer, it never gets explained who some of the characters are, including Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta).
"This field, this game. It's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good."
After all, it's not heaven. It's Iowa.
No. 8 Seabiscuit
It takes 10 seconds for the production companies' logos to leave the screen, but then it's off to the races (pun intended).
Interwoven stories of a guy tough out of luck, a millionaire now broke, and a former cowboy depict "Seabiscuit."
In case the characterization wasn't enough, Randy Newman's music soars to an uplifting level.
Beautiful scenery paints a picture for Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire) and his first go on Seabiscuit. A list of great actors provides the film's Oscar bait.
There's trash talking and underdogs—the horse is too small and the jockey too big.
"You don't throw a whole life away just 'cause it's banged up a little bit."
Even better might be the teaser trailer, which begins with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's historic inaugural speech.
No. 7 The Natural
It all started with Robert Redford's good looks.
And acting by Robert Duvall. And Glenn Close. And Kim Basinger.
Is there any need to go on?
In the trailer for "The Natural," an average baseball player becomes a legend.
From the beginning, he was told off in true underdog fashion.
"You've got a gift, Roy, but it's not enough."
Then there are dramatic one-word deliveries by the voiceover: Love. Desire. Destiny.
"With or without the records, they'll remember you."
Randy Newman, who made the list earlier, provides the Oscar-nominated music that shines in the trailer. One need look no further than this for a score that can sway emotions.
"I wouldn't bet against me." "I already have."
A few fireworks here and there as well as a montage wrap up the trailer nicely.
And for the stunning conclusion, Roy Hobbs (Redford) throws with the sunset to his back, a true cinematic delight.
No. 6 Chariots of Fire
A voice-over remarks that "This is a story of two men who run. Not to run, but to prove something to the world. They will sacrifice anything to achieve their goals, except their honor."
Then the iconic score by Vangelis begins to play. As does the opening scene along the water when a group of runners begin to train.
A down point? The trailer reaches a lull when the narrator lists some of the best lines from critics.
While that takes place, images alternate between the opening sequence and the leading characters, Nicholas (Aubrey Montague) and Harold (Ben Cross).
No. 5 A League of Their Own
Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) leads the Rockford Peaches, an all-female baseball team, with a prayer asking for swift feet and plentiful balls.
Oh, and the waitress in South Bend.
In between snippets, the trailer for "A League of Their Own" wants to remind the viewer who is behind the film.
A baseball-voiced announcer provides the narration.
There's a parody to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" that outlines the plot.
The footage fits perfectly with the lyrics—"stay out of their way" leads to a collision at home plate.
And it's a highlight reel of some of the great plays the athletes make. The five main cast members even get their own screen time with a bit from one of their key scenes.
"There's no crying in baseball!"
Only from laughing too hard during this sports comedy.
No. 4 Breaking Away
Sun shines through the trees and the movie trailer guy nonchalantly says that the biker is along the Italian countryside.
"But Enrico has a problem [a tire pops]. He's not in Italy."
Just like the humorous nature of the film, "Breaking Away," the trailer follows suits.
Enrico is not actually Enrico. He's actually 19-year-old Dave Stoller (Dennis Christopher) of Bloomington, Ind.
Testimonials from neighbors and comedic timing from his father provide a clear idea of what people think about Stoller's demeanor.
"He was as normal as pumpkin pie, and now look at him."
Although Stoller's path to adulthood involves biking long distances, anyone can relate to the story.
"Somewhere between growing up and settling down. It happens to all of us."
No. 3 Rudy
The true underdog knows how to make a trailer.
It begins with Rudy (Sean Astin) walking through the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium and his detractors relaying their best shots.
"The problem with dreamers is they're usually not doers."
For the most part, instead of depending on a narrator, the trailer allows the characters to do the talking as clips run.
Rudy watches the football team train. He waits for the players to leave practice.
"Ever since I was a kid I wanted to go here. And ever since I was a kid, everyone said it couldn't be done. I always listened to them, believed what they said. I don't want to do that anymore."
If the rousing dialogue and music toward the two-minute mark doesn't make the viewer teary, re-watching the film sure will.
No. 2 Miracle
Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" (also endearingly known as the cowbell song) begins this musically charged trailer.
Old footage (the Olympic torch) to filmed sequences (Kurt Russell's Herb Brooks) blend well.
"When you pull on that jersey, the name on the front is more important than the one on the back."
There are hits against the board, back story without giving too much away, and a true 1980s feel.
In the middle of the trailer, Mike Eruzione (Patrick O'Brien Demsey) shouts that he plays for the United States of America.
And to cap off the final minute is Aerosmith's "Dream On."
The ultimate touch? Al Michaels' "Do you believe in miracles?" to conclude the trailer.
No. 1 Raging Bull
Much like the film, the trailer for "Raging Bull" is a thing of beauty.
Shot in black and white, director Martin Scorsese romanticizes the violence in a sensual manner.
A montage of Jake LaMotta's tumultuous marriage and boxing career provides the viewer with everything it needs to know.
Things get kicked off in a club with the introduction of the "Bronx Bull, the Raging Bull" (Robert De Niro).
His brother and manager, Joey (Joe Pesci), dishes out advice to the hot-headed boxer:
"You're dead. You're married."
Throughout the trailer, LaMotta proclaims himself the best and raises his arms as a champion.
And the perfect final touch? The red lettered-text to signify blood.
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