The Best Sports Movie Ever

Everybody loves an inspirational sports movie. Remember the Titans.  Rudy.  Radio.  The Blind Side.  Glory Road.  We Are Marshall.  You get the point.  They move you to tears in the end, but even if you’re a man that’s okay because you’re crying about sports.  Once you’ve seen a few, however, you start to notice a pattern.  If you’re interested in becoming a director/screenwriter/producer someday, you’d do well to adhere to the award-winning sports movie formula.

1. True story.  Otherwise it’s less inspirational and you just look silly if you’re crying over it.

2. Situation of adversity that must be overcome.  Desegregation and civil rights in Remember the Titans.  A small town trapped by a dead-end industry (coal mining, factory, etc).  Rudy dreams of impressing his dad by playing for Notre Dame, but he’s too small and not smart enough.  Radio is mentally challenged and poor.  Michael Oher is homeless in The Blind Side.  The plane crash in We Are Marshall.

3. Inspirational character overcoming the odds.  We must sympathize with this character, root for him, feel his pain.  Radio, Rudy, Michael Oher, Herman Boone (Denzel in Titans).

4. Tough but kind-hearted coach.  This coach mercilessly whips the team into shape while mentoring them to be young men of integrity.  Denzel in Titans, Ed Harris in Radio.  Sandra Bullock’s character fills this role unconventionally in The Blind Side.

5. Working hard/Things are looking up montage.  The team trains and bonds.  They become really good and start winning games.  Cue cheerleaders, roaring crowds, lots of team colors flying around, and games set to music.

6. Unforeseen tragedy/setback.  It seems like there’s no chance of triumph now.  Back to the dead-end future, back to the loser’s circle.  The car crash in Titans.  The accusations against the Touhys in the Blind Side.  Radio’s mother dies.  Rudy is going to graduate and he won’t get to dress for the final game.  

7. Personal victory.  The team might win the championship, and they might not.  What matters is the adversity that has been overcome, the fact that they continued despite tragedy, the odds that they defeated.  The characters are forever changed and have changed the opinions of those around them, achieving a victory for humankind.  Cue the tears.

You know I’m right.  All of our favorite sports movies follow this formula, more or less.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t love them, can’t cheer for the underdog or cry at the bittersweet triumph.  After all, it’s real life, with better-looking people and dramatic background music.  Go team!


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