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The Most 25 Inspirational Sports Movies

Andrew MahlmannCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2016

The Most 25 Inspirational Sports Movies

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    The time has finally come for an A-list movie about mixed martial arts to be released.

    "Warrior", from the director of the acclaimed Disney miracle on ice movie "Miracle"- delivers us far and away the best MMA story telling seen yet.

    Director Gavin O'Connor follows up on his inspirational triumph of "Miracle" with a film crafted with equal emotional tug and inspiration.

    With "Warrior", O'Connor solidifies himself as one of the all time best creators of inspirational sports movies.

    He takes a relatively fringe mainstream sport in MMA and creates an engaging encompassing experience for all viewers.

    On September 9th, you will all get to see what I am talking about. 

    This is "Warrior" and the top 25 most inspirational sports movies of all-time.

25. Glory Road

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    Loosely based on true events leading up to the 1966 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, where Texas Western college defeated Kentucky for the championship.

    Despite having obviously talented white players, Texas Western coach Don Haskins made a point by starting all black players.

    It was the first time ever done in history and symbolized solidarity and hope after a season facing discrimination. 

24. Friday Night Lights

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    High school football players and their coach absorbed in the intense football culture of Texas in the late 1980s cope with the pressure of expectations and navigate crucial moments in their life.

    Based off of the book "Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and A Dream" chronicling Permian High School's 1988 season.

    Like the book, the film touches on issues of socio-economic disparity and race and the prejudices involved.

23. The Sandlot

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    A young boy has difficulty making new friends after moving to a new city.

    Eventually he is absorbed into a rag-tag group of baseball players but naively uses his step-father's cherished baseball signed by Babe Ruth.

    After a homerun hit, the ball is lost over the fence to a menacing dog, and the boys learn the values of friendship and camaraderie in growing up.   

22. Bull Durham

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    Veteran minor league baseball player "Crash" Davis is sent to the Durham Bulls to refine the hotshot rookie pitcher "Nuke" LaLoosh.

    Despite a slightly awkward love triangle, Crash works with seductress and team booster Annie to mold Nuke into a Major League pitcher.

    Nuke gets sent up to the Major's and Crash and Annie discover the next step of their lives is together and away from Durham. 

21. Coach Carter

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    The story of a high school basketball coach who benches his practically all-star team for not performing academically.

    Coach Carter's determination to bring out the best in his athletes outside of the court eventually pervades despite strong initial opposition from the team and even the community.

    The film inspires us to be the best we can be and helps keep competition in perspective relative to life's truest values.

20. The Blind Side

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    The semi-biographical account of Michael Oher who went on to become an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL.

    As a troubled youth, Oher gets adopted into the affluent Tuohy family.

    Despite numerous setbacks, Leigh Anne Tuohy is able to help Michael fulfill his potential by providing guidance, encouragement, a safe environment, and love.

19. Field of Dreams

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    A farmer in rural Iowa starts receiving ethereal messages suggesting he build a baseball diamond in his cornfield.

    After following his instincts down this "rabbit hole", the farmer finds out he is being given the opportunity to facilitate redemption and second chances to lost legends of America's favorite past-time.

    His journey culminates with an unexpected second-chance of his own. 

18. Invincible

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    Loosely based on true events about underdog football player Vince Papale.

    With the support of his friends, Papale is able to make the Philadelphia Eagles professional football team and even scores a touchdown in his second game, leading coach Dick Vermeil to his first victory with the Eagles.

17. We Are Marshall

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    In the wake of a horrific plane crash where West Virgina's Marshall University loses essentially their entire football team, students and other community members rally to rebuild the football program.

    The new team is built nearly from scratch in a short amount of time, fueled by inspiring passion.

    In their first season, the football team struggles to win games, but their solidarity pulls them through to win their first home-game and their homecoming game.

16. The Natural

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    Based off of the novel of the same name, The Natural follows the story and career of naturally gifted baseball player Roy Hobbs.

    Hobbs experiences many highs and lows through his professional career, but ultimately his natural ability and purist love for the game takes him to the top of the sport.

15. A League of Their Own

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    A Professional Baseball League for women starts up in America during World War II.

    The league is an entirely new adventure for everyone involved.

    Sisters Kit and Dottie alternate between sentiments of loving support and rivalry on their rewarding road to self-actualization. 

14. Bend It Like Beckham

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    Jess and Jules are two talented young female football (soccer) players in the London area who help take their team to the championship.

    Overcoming gender and racial issues and resistance from her family, Jess is able to reunite with the team on the day of the championship match and delivers them to victory.

    After their incredible performances, Jess and Jules are offered soccer scholarships to American universities and a chance to follow their dreams.

13. Cool Runnings

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    Loosely based on the unlikely story of the Jamaican bobsled team's Olympic debut in the 1988 Winter Olympics.

    Disgraced and downtrodden former bobsled champion Irving Blitzer has been living in Jamaica and is convinced by a group of young men to start Jamaica's first bobsled team.

    Although initially harassed and embarrassed when confronting international competition, the team proves their courage and ability on the bobsled track, earning respect amongst their Olympic peers and returning home with pride. 

12. Cinderella Man

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    True story of a manual laborer, James Braddock, during the great depression, who decides to pick back up his former boxing career.

    In a rags to riches story, Braddock makes an unlikely climb up the contender's list and becomes the heavyweight champion of world by defeating the seemingly invincible Max Bear.

    Braddock's journey was motivated by his love for his wife and his desire to support them. 

11. Remember the Titans

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    Set during racial desegregation in 1971 Virginia, racial tensions get as heated as ever as a high school football team struggles to find their identity.

    Based off of true events, African-American head coach Herman Boone is able to unite his team as they continue to face stiff opposition from other high schools and from their own loved ones who have yet to learn to see past race. 

10. The Mighty Ducks

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    Defense attorney Gordon Bombay is relagated to coaching youth hockey for community service after a drunk driving incident.

    Coinciding with his own personal journey of self re-discovery, Bombay is able to turn around the fortunes for his hockey team and turn them into the championship "Mighty Ducks".

9. Seabiscuit

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    Seabiscuit was an underdog race horse who rallied to become a champion near the end of the Great Depression.

    Seabiscuit's most famous rider, Red Pollard famously says at the end of the story, "You know, everyone thinks that we found this broken down horse and fixed him, but we didn't. He fixed us, every one of us, and I guess in a way we kinda fixed each other, too."

8. Warrior

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    Two estranged brothers, both highly skilled fighters, find their lives entangled again when they both enter the world of professional mixed martial arts.

    Tom has always been a prized athlete, but now emotionally disconnected from family, he fights to support the family of his fallen friend and brother in arms.

    Brendan has re-resorted to fighting in order to support his wife and kids and both underdog fighters prove resilient in propelling themselves to the finals in the highest paying MMA tournament yet seen.

7. Chariots of Fire

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    "Chariots of Fire" tells the true story of two athletes competing for Britain in the 1924 Olympics.

    Christian Scotsman Eric Liddell competes for the glory of god and Jewish Harold Abrahams competes to combat prejudice and descrimination.

    Despite competing against American favorites, Liddell wins gold in the 400m and Abrahams takes gold in the 100m race. Both men return home as heroes. 

6. The Karate Kid

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    Daniel LaRusso moves cross-country with his single-mother to a new high school in the Los Angeles area.

    As the new kid, LaRusso immediately becomes a victim of bullying, also targeted for his affection for a popular girl.

    LaRusso eventually grows a special bond with his neighbor Mr. Miyagi who bestows Karate lessons onto him.

    In the end, LaRusso triumphs over his adversary in a Karate tournament despite cheap and unethical tactics encouraged by the bully's mentor. 

5. Miracle

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    The story of one of the greatest sports moments in American history.

    Heading into the medal round of the 1980 Winter Olympics, the young American team was a massive underdog to the domineering Soviets.

    The American team inspired the nation as they pulled off an epic upset for the ages on their way to a gold medal. 

4. The Rookie

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    The true story of a high school science teacher and baseball coach who never had a chance for his baseball playing to take off when he was younger due to various circumstances.

    Encouraged by some of his community and his students, 35-year old Jim Morris tries out at a Major League Baseball camp and is offered a chance to pitch by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

    Morris gets empowered to follow his dreams and spends two seasons in the MLB. 

3. Hoosiers

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    A new coach arrives to lead the rural high school basketball from Hickory, Indiana.

    The community almost drives the coach out, but with the support of a few key influencers, the team finds itself and starts performing better than ever.

    The team even makes it to the state finals and pulls out an against the odds performance in the finale. 

2. Rudy

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    Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger realizes his lifelong dream of being on the University of Notre Dame football team.

    Overcoming numerous odds, Rudy is allowed to suit up for the final game of his senior year.

    Inspiring everyone who's life he's touched, and the entire University, Rudy gets a quarter-back sack in a final moment of cumulative triumph.

1. Rocky

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    The classic tale of a small-time Philadelphia boxer who is given the chance of a life-time to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world.

    Rocky stands tall on this list as the whole series has come to represent a tradition of inspiration.

    The most inspirational sports movie of all time, and maybe most inspirational of all time, period. 

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