Top Ten Villains in Sports Movie History

Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IOctober 13, 2012

Top Ten Villains in Sports Movie History

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    In this presentation, I'll be examining the greatest villains of sports movie history.

    The all-time top ten includes hilarious memorable characters, darkly portrayed archnemeses or thorns in the side of the main character.

    The criteria for the list is simple: Funny or serious, the character must be an actual person, so the Soviets from Miracle or illness from Brian's Song or The Express are not eligible. 

    Each villain's slide includes a memorable clip from the movie they starred in. 

10. Major League: Heywood

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    "We have uniforms and everything. It's great."

    Like Caddyshack, Major League is a movie that people will be quoting for decades.

    It has all the things that make a great sports movie: an underdog story, memorable characters, epic quotes—and, of course, a good villain. 

    Heywood is a New York Yankee. He isn't really in the movie all that often, but the viewer wants Vaughn to strike him out so badly at the end that it's impossible not to put him on this list. 

9. The Karate Kid: Johnny Lawrence

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    "Strike first. Strike hard. No mercy."

    The Karate Kid is the memorable '80s tale about the kid who gets bullied at school and is rescued from a beat down by martial arts master Mister Miyagi, who then teaches him Karate.

    Johnny, the star pupil of Cobra Kai's Sensei Kreese, the most infamous dojo in town, is Daniel Larusso's (Ralph Macchio) archnemesis. 

    Kreese, who has no morals and teaches his students to do anything it takes to win, gets into a personal battle with Miyagi, and then orders Johnny to make illegal hits on Daniel in the final fight of the movie. 

    Being a good drone, Johnny obeys but is defeated by the film's protagonist. 

8. Jerry Maguire: Bob Sugar

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    Tom Cruise plays Jerry Maguire, a super agent who has a mid-life crisis of sorts, but a revelation at the same time. 

    Maguire publishes a paper in which he de-emphasizes the importance of money. 

    Maguire is shown the door and all his clients are stolen by fellow sports agent Bob Sugar. 

    Sugar steals everyone on Maguire's Rolodex minus Cuba Gooding Jr., who won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in this movie. Sugar goes on to completely destroy Maguire's future by backstabbing him and signing the future number-one pick in the NFL draft by telling the young quarterback that Maguire had lost his mind. 

    Throughout the entire movie the viewer want's Jay Mohr's Sugar to get his just deserts and see him fail because of what he tried to do to Maguire's career. 

7. Caddyshack: Judge Elihu Smails

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    "Don't you people have homes?"

    Caddyshack, possibly one of the funniest movies ever made—and definitely the funniest sport movie ever made—features Bill Murray and Chevy Chase in their primes, with Rodney Dangerfield stealing every scene he's in. 

    Judge Elihu Smails has to deal with new club member Al Czervik (Dangerfield), who is making a mockery of the game of golf. Or so Judge Smails believes. 

    When Dangerfield makes fun of the hat the Judge is wearing in the pro shop, he delivers one of the funniest lines ever. 

6. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: Jean Girard

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    "You taste of America."

    Talladega Nights has everyone you could want in a recent comedy. 

    As hilarious as Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are, it is Sacha Baron Cohen who is a constant laugh riot when on camera.

    Cohen plays Jean Girard, an overtly homosexual French Formula-One racer, who has come to America to dominate the NASCAR circuit.

    Girard is sponsored, of course, by Perrier. 

5. Rocky: Apollo Creed

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    Everyone has seen Rocky, and what makes Apollo Creed such a great choice for a top-10 villain is that, after Rocky II, he turns into one of the most memorable proteges and supporting characters in sports movie history.

    What makes Rocky superior to even other great sports movies is that the good guy does not win.

    To Creed, Rocky is a joke, and the fact that Rocky is even in the same ring with him is a disgrace to the sport.

    While Apollo is clearly the better fighter, Rocky keeps getting up every time Apollo knocks him down, and the look on his face when he realizes that the match will not end by knockout is an amazing piece of cinema. 

4. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story: White Goodman

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    "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball."

    With a simple enough plot, Dodgeball is a story about a small-time gym trying to be bought out by a huge evil corporation. Vince Vaughn's character must find a way to raise fifty grand in order to save his gym from egomaniac Ben Stiller and his Globo Gym.

    The underdogs enlist in a local dodgeball tournament, which gives way to a bigger dodgeball tournament where they must eventually defeat Stiller's Purple Cobras. Hilarity ensues.

    Stiller and his crew of ultra-fit Cobras play the best super villains a sports movie could ask for. While not a conventional major sport, dodgeball is a ubiquitous childhood activity, one that taps into most moviegoers' memories of elementary school recesses and playgrounds.

    And it was fun to play.

    Stiller and his wife Christine Taylor, who both appear in Zoolander, are hilarious together. 

3. Happy Gilmore: Shooter McGavine

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    "Yeah right, and Grizzly Adams had a beard."

    Happy Gilmore is goon hockey player turned professional golfer. He doesn't care about winning at gold, he just wants to raise money to pay for his Grandma's house and rescue her from a nursing home sweat shop run by Ben Stiller.

    The only thing standing in his way is Shooter McGavine (Chris McDonald), a longtime golf pro who hasn't won the big one yet, and Happy is the only one standing in his way. 

    Shooter immediately gets on the wrong side of Happy when he invites him out to a golf initiation party, which turns out to be a green with an automated sprinkler.

    Happy responds by breaking a beer glass against the bar and vowing to beat Shooter. 

2. The Hustler: Bert Gordon

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    George C. Scott plays Bert Gordon, a pool hall manager and professional gambler who represents the darkest impulses of human nature.

    In an Academy Award-nominated role, Scott's character embodies pure villainy—someone who has no qualms of exploiting people if doing so serves his money-making agenda.

1. Rocky IV: Ivan Drago

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    By villainous standards, Drago beats out Apollo Creed by a long shot.

    After Drago kills an older, more worn-out Creed in the ring, Rocky vows revenge by defeating the steroid-fed superhuman in the ring.

    While Rocky IV might be viewed as a piece of Cold War propaganda, it is one of the best, if not the best, of the entire series.

    Ivan Drago is a vicious boxer, who is more or less created in a Soviet sports laboratory. During the Cold War era, communist countries were notorious for doping and cheating in international events, and this disreputable history is a subtext of Rocky IV.

    Since Rocky is a former world champion and still in pretty good condition, it isn't necessarily a David-versus-Goliath story, but Drago does give off the impression that he is unbeatable—and that, if he could, he would kill Rocky.