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Best Sports Movies of All Time

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Authored by Mike Bacon in Movies and Television 
Published on 10-22-2009

Sports movies are often based upon real-life events. These types of films are designed to make the viewers root for the underdog. You know they’ll probably win at the end of the movie, but watching them make that touchdown or hit the ball out of the park is the payoff for the audience. Here then is a list of some of the best sports movies of all time.

Knute Rockne All-American (1940)

This is the story of one of the greatest coaches in collegiate history. Legendary Dame coach Knute Rockne is portrayed in the film by Pat O’Brien. The film tells the story of his life, but focuses mostly on his career as head coach of Notre Dame’s football team. In a pivotal sequence in the film one of his key players, George Gipp is injured. Rockne rallies the team telling them to “go out and win this one for the Gipper”. Ronald Reagan played the character of George Gipp.

League of Their Own (1992)

Geena Davis and Tom Hanks starred in this true story of the World War II era all-American professional girl’s baseball league. During the war some baseball owners realized that people still wanted to see baseball even if there were few men to play the game. The girl’s professional league was begun. Hanks portrays Jimmy Dugan, a washed up drunk and former professional baseball player who was offered the job of managing one of the girls league teams. Reluctant at first to even attempt to coach women to play baseball, Dugan finally realizes that these girls are really there to play the game. Singer Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell played supporting roles in the film.

The Bad News Bears (1976)

Walter Matthau starred as a down on his luck former minor-league baseball player who winds up coaching a team of complete misfits in a highly competitive California Little League. The film introduced Tatum O’Neal as a pitching sensation who was coach Buttermaker’s (Matthau) ace in the hole. The final moments of the film when the Bears play their arch-rivals the Yankees is a nailbiter. The film spawned two sequels and a 2005 remake which starred Billy Bob Thornton.

The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

This wartime biopic starred Gary Cooper as one of the great Yankee ballplayers of all time – Lou Gehrig. The movie follows Gehrig from his childhood through his final “luckiest man” speech which took place on his farewell day in 1939. Gehrig played 2130 consecutive games until struck with the nerve disease ALS at the age of 37. The disease now is known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards but only picked up one in the category of best film editing.

Miracle (2004)

Kurt Russell starred as Herb Ross, the player turned coach who led the 1980 US Olympics hockey team. The US team won a come from behind and inspiring victory over the Russian team, which had been considered the favorites for Olympic gold. The victory prompted sportscaster Al Michaels to ask the now famous question “Do you believe in miracles?”

The Mighty Ducks (1992)

Emilio Estevez stars as hotshot lawyer Gordon Bombay. As a child Gordon missed an easy shot that would’ve won the championship for his hockey team. The game, along with his coach’s respect was lost. This incident comes back to haunt Gordon when he is charged with drunk driving. He is given community service and is ordered by the court to coach a kids hockey team. This team, The Mighty Ducks has the worst record in the league. At first reluctant, Gordon eventually wins the respect of the kids as well as a chance to redeem himself in the finals. He faces off against his former coach and finally puts his ghosts to rest. The movie spawned two sequels and inspired the National Hockey League expansion team in Anaheim California to name itself the Mighty Ducks.

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