(Ch. 13) Best Sports Films of History

-Noel T. Manning II

sports-films-fFierce competition, underdogs dismantling Goliaths, egos the size of Africa, team-mindedness taking the place of individualism, and adversity of self are a few themes that resonate throughout sports-related films. These movies are about much more than the game represented; what happens on the court, the field, on the ice, on inside the ring actually matter very little compared to life metaphors experienced through the characters. The best of these films explore the power of the human spirit and investigate just how deep we are willing to go to succeed or survive in the face of monumental obstacles.

best-football-moviesThe following is the weighted result of calculating several “best of lists” and surveys presented through Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Entertainment Weekly, Time Magazine, Rolling Stone Magazine, Facebook and more. Baseball, football, boxing, and basketball may reign supreme on this list, but golf, soccer, cycling, track and field and even billiards will crack the top-50 as well.

What will you find? Well, you will discover that Kevin Costner, Denzel Washington, and best-sports-movies-all-timeDennis Quaid all love the sports-themed films, and you’ll also see these stories are much more than an exploitation of the stereotypical “dumb jocks.” Many of these flicks will challenge what you know about sports, and what you think you know about yourself … and sometimes life.

The top 50-list is followed by numerous honorable mentions in alphabetical order. Did yours make the cut?

  1. “Remember the Titans” (2000)raging-bull
  2. “Rocky” (1976)
  3. “Raging Bull” (1980)
  4. “Hoosiers” (1986)
  5. “Field of Dreams” (1989)
  1. “Bull Durham” (1988)
  1. “The Natural” (1984)
  1. “Rudy” (1993)
  1. “Brian’s Song” (1971)
  1. “The Bad News Bears” (1976)badnewsbears
  2. “Major League” (1989)
  1. “Caddyshack” (1980)
  1. “Slap Shot” (1977)
  1. “We Are Marshall” (2006)
  2. “Miracle” (2004)
  1. “Chariots of Fire” (1981)
  1. “The Pride of the Yankees” (1942)
  1. A League of Their Own” (1992)51no6gpeool-_sy445_
  1. “Friday Night Lights” (2004)
  1. ‘The Hustler” (1961)
  1. “The Longest Yard” (1974)
  1. “Moneyball” (2011)
  1. “The Sandlot” (1993)
  1. “The Blindside” (2009)
  1. “Eight Men Out” (1988)
  1. “Hoop Dreams” (1994)
  1. “Million Dollar Baby” (2004)breaking
  1. “Jerry Maguire” (1996)
  1. “Breaking Away” (1979)
  1. “Facing the Giants” (2007)
  1. “Radio” (2003)
  1. “The Rookie” (2002)
  1. “Any Given Sunday” (1999)
  1. “The Wrestler” (2008)
  1. “Victory” (1981)
  1. “Endless Summer” (1966)escapetovictory_420
  1. “Glory Road” (2006)
  1. For the Love of the Game” (1999)
  1. “Karate Kid” (1984)
  1. Invictus (2009)
  1. “Seabiscuit” (2003)
  1. “North Dallas Forty” (1979)
  1. “Tin Cup” (1996)ali-willsmith-ring-screaming
  1. “White Men Can’t Jump” (1992)
  1. “The Legend of Bagger Vance” (2000)
  1. “Ali” (2001)
  1. “42” (2013)
  2. “Angels in the Outfield” (1951)
  3. “Creed” (2015)
  4. “The Express” (2008)the_express05


Honorable Mention

 “61” (2001)

“All the Right Moves” (1983)

“The Babe” (1992)unknown

Bend It Like Beckham” (2003)

“The Best of Times” (1986)

“Big Wednesday” (1978)

“The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings” (1976)

“Bleed for This” (2016)

“Blue Chips” (1994)2560x1440

The Boxer” (1997)

“The Champ” (1979)

“Cinderella Man” (2005)

Coach Carter” (2005)cool-runnings

“Cobb” (1994)

“The Color of Money” (1986)

“Cool Runnings” (1993)

The Damned United” (2009)

“Draft day” (2014)

“Eddie the Eagle” (2016)

“Everybody’s All American” (1988)image_7407add9

The Fighter”(2010)

“The Greatest Game Ever Played” (2005)

“Gus” (1976)

“Happy Gilmore” (1996)

“He Got Game” (1998)large_vosammwco7t3runwnephzpwtpvn

“Heaven Can Wait” (1978)

The Hurricane” (1999)

“Invincible” (2006)

“Knute Rockne: All American” (1940)

Lords of Dogtown” (2005)

MacFarland USA” (2015)

“Million Dollar Arm” (2014)MSDPREF EC001

“Necessary Roughness” (1991)

“Prefontaine” (1997)

Rocky Balboa” (2006)

“Rocky III” (1982)

Rush” (2013)senna_ver2

“Semi-Tough” (1977)

“Senna” (2010)

“Soul Surfer” (2011)

“Southpaw” (2015)

“Space Jam” (1996)220px-trouble_with_the_curve_poster

“Trouble with the Curve” (2012)

“The Waterboy” (1998)

“When the Game Stood Tall” (2014)

“The World’s Greatest Athlete” (1973)



Chase, C. (2015, November 11). Ranking the 25 greatest sports movies of all-time | For The Win. Retrieved from http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/11/best-top-greatest-sports-movies-of-all-time-ever-25-field-of-dreams-caddyshack-hoosiers

USA Today


Ebiri, B., Fear, D., Grierson, T., Montgomery, J., Murray, N., & Phipps, K. (2015, August 10). 30 best sports movies of all time | Rolling Stone. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/lists/30-best-sports-movies-of-all-time-20150810

Rolling Stone


Evans, S. (2014, February 5). The 101 greatest sports movies of all time | Bleacher Report. Retrieved from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1942431-the-101-greatest-sports-movies-of-all-time

Bleacher Report


IGN Movies. (2014, October 6). The top 25 sports movies of all time – IGN. Retrieved from http://www.ign.com/articles/the-top-25-sports-movies-of-all-time


Manning, N. T. (2016, November 23). Best sports films of all time. Retrieved from http://Facebook.com/manningsportssurvey

Staff reports. (2003, August 4). The 50 greatest sports movies of all time! Retrieved from http://www.si.com/vault/2003/08/04/347439/the-50-greatest-sports-movies-of-all-time

Sports Illustrated


Staff. (n.d.). The 25 greatest sports movies ever. Retrieved November 23, 2016, from http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/25-greatest-sports-movies-gallery-1.52876

NY daily news


Staff. (n.d.). Top 20 sports movies of all-time. Retrieved November 23, 2016, from https://espn.go.com/page2/movies/s/top20/fulllist.html



Staff, E. W. (2015, November 15). 25 sports movies that score – EW.com. Retrieved from http://www.ew.com/gallery/best-sports-movies

Entertainment Weekly



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