First I must say that trying to choose some of these movies over any other was, at times, like trying to choose one of my kids over the other—painful.
However, I have emerged victorious and assembled what I believe to be the best, most inspirational (or cheesy depending on how you look at it) sport stories on the silver screen.
Any list of "greatest sports movies" would simply be incomplete without this classic tale of patience, persistence, endurance and sheer love of the game. If only every fan had the dedication shown by Rudy. Frankly I can't stand the Irish but even I have a little more love for Touchdown Jesus after one of TBS's 700 annual re-runs. It also helps to remember that Sean Astin is more than a wussy, funny-looking Hobbit.
Best Quote: "You are an All-American and the Captain of this team, now act like it."
"I believe I am Coach"
"If you build it, he will come." More like "If you watch it, it will be awesome!" The story of Iowa Corn Farmer Ray Kinsella who fears he is becoming too much like his father, builds a baseball field on his farm and somehow summons the 1919 Chicago Black Sox.
This movie is good, old-fashioned and heart warming. While indeed a dream, sometimes it's alright to see everything work out alright in the end. Fellas, you might even get the wife to watch this one.
Best Quote: Ray: "Don't we need a catcher?"
Shoeless Joe: "Not if you get it close to the plate we don't"
How awesome is Robert Redford? I mean seriously? The dude owns the wild west, overthrows military prisons, and survives attempted murders before becoming a baseball legend. I hate that guy!
The Natural has it all. The story of comeback-kid Ray Hobbs and the fictional New York Knights, it features a heart warming father-son story line, an inspiring comeback story, and some eye popping home runs. It was after watching this movie for the umpteenth time that caused my Dad to say "All the best sports movies are baseball movies."
Certainly this one qualifies.
Best Quote: "The only thing I know about the dark is you can't see in it."
Another totally complete film. With Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston and The Yankees losing, I could watch that all day. For Love of the Game is about the fictional legendary pitcher Billy Chapel. Chapel who spent his entire career with the Detroit Tigers wakes up one morning to discover the owner he sees as a father is selling the team, throwing the old fastball hurts a lot more than it used to, and the girl he loves is skipping the country.
The story follows the course of Chapel's last game as he struggles with the choice between retiring, or being traded by the team's new owner. He calls it quits after pitching a perfect game against the Yankees.
Does it get better than that?
Chapel: "I don't know if I have anything left"
Gus: "You just throw whatever you've got. The boys are all here for you. We're gonna be awesome for you right now!"
Remember The Titans is another one of those you can't leave off of a list like this. Quite possibly the most inspired performances of Denzel Washington's career, it follows the story of Football Coach Herman Boone in racially segregated Alexandria Virginia and his football team the T.C. Williams Titans.
Its inspiring, motivating and teaches us all that we can be a little better. Add to that the fact that football is the story. It is a perfect blend between life and sports and shows us that sometimes, it is way more than just a game.
Best Quote (s):
Coach Yoast: "All right, now, I don't want them to gain *another yard!* * You blitz... all... night!* If they cross the line of scrimmage, I'm gonna take every last one of you out! You make sure they remember, *forever*, the night they played the Titans!"
Coach Yoast: " You've taught this city how to trust the soul of a man rather than the look of him. And I guess it's about time I joined the club."
The story of Coach Norman Dale and the tiny West Indiana High School he turned into a contender for the Indiana State Title. Assisted by a local drunk, and the player with a "little engine that could" attitude this is the one you show your kids. Over and over again.
Best Quote: Coach Dale: "If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we're gonna be winners."
"Show Me The Money!" Enough said.
But seriously, A great movie about discovering that just like sometimes its more, sometimes it is just a game. A sports agent with a recently discovered sense of morality helps a mediocre football player rediscover his talent and his passion for the game.
This story shouldn't be fiction. One word can describe this movie's moral. Priorities. Another one that teaches us that sometimes its more than just a game, Coach Carter is the story of High School Basketball Coach Ken Carter, a self made man who tries to inspire the young men under his charge that basketball is just a stepping stone to their bigger and brighter futures. He knows, because he was one of them. This movie teaches us to conquer our fear of ourselves. To not be afraid to be the best version of ourselves and that where we come from, doesn't have to be where we're going.
Best Quote: "You really need to consider the message you're sending this boys by ending the lockout. It's the same message that we as a culture send to our professional athletes; and that is that they are above the law. If these boys cannot honor the simple rules of a basketball contract, how long do you think it will be before they're out there breaking the law? I played ball here at Richmond High 30 years ago. It was the same thing then; some of my teammates went to prison, some of them even ended up dead. If you vote to end the lockout, you won't have to terminate me; I'll quit."
Quite possibly the greatest moment in sports broadcasting history was the final seconds of the 1980 Lake Placid Hockey Game against the undefeated Soviets. Al Michaels "Do you believe in Miracles? Yes!" As the seconds clicked off the clock, history was made and the "Miracle on Ice" became enshrined among the best moments of American sports history.
The movie starring Kurt Russell appropriately paid tribute to the actual events.
Best Quote: " Great moments... are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here, tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game. If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine. But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight, we stay with them. And we shut them down because we can! Tonight, WE are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players. Every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. Screw 'em. This is your time. Now go out there and take it."
Who among us hasn't wished we had that song set to some feat of awesomeness in our own lives? Telling the true story of British track stars Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams and their run to gold in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, Chariots of Fire won an academy award and proves that some differences just don't matter and that the Brits, can in fact be good at sports.
Best Quote: "You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It's hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape—especially if you've got a bet on it. But how long does that last? You go home. Maybe you're dinner's burnt. Maybe you haven't got a job. So who am I to say, "Believe, have faith," in the face of life's realities? I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within. Jesus said, "Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me." If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race."