The Best Movies to Get Your Sports Fix While Everything Is Cancelled
With sports leagues of all kinds closed for the foreseeable future because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many sports fans are at a loss as to where to turn for entertainment. Fortunately, there is an alternative: sports movies. From hockey to football to horse racing, there are countless films about the thrill of competition and the bonds of teamwork.
If you have access to a streaming service, you already have everything you need. Grab some popcorn, throw on your favorite jersey and settle in for the best sports movies of all time.
A League of Their Own (1992)
Whether you were a fan of women’s baseball before the pandemic or not, A League of Their Own is a classic baseball movie that also chronicles women’s struggle to be taken seriously as baseball players during World War II. It’s sure to give you a new appreciation for the hard work women baseball players put into the game.
The Olympic Committee has already postponed the Summer 2020 Olympics until Summer 2021, but you don’t have to wait until then to get a taste of the unique mix of patriotism, determination and cooperation that the games represent.
Raging Bull (1980)
The first Martin Scorcese film featuring Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci was the classic Raging Bull. The movie received little critical acclaim upon its initial release, but it has since been placed on the American Film Institute's Top 100 Films list. This biographical drama follows the true story of Jake LaMotta, a self-destructive boxer who struggled with his rage.
If you’re feeling like you can’t get where you want to be in life, either because of the pandemic or something else, consider watching the classic film Rudy. It’s the perfect film for people who find life inspiration through sports.
Hoop Dreams (1994)
The pandemic has many people examining societal values, sports fans included. If you’re one such person and also enjoy baseball, Hoop Dreams could be right up your alley. This thoughtful documentary follows two African-American teenagers as they seek fame and opportunity through basketball.
Any Given Sunday (1999)
If you miss watching live football games even more than televised ones, Any Given Sunday might be what you’re looking for. While the film is also a drama and thoughtful meditation on the sports industry as a whole, it excels most at capturing the gritty action on the field itself in extreme detail.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby (2006)
Like more conventional sports, NASCAR has also suspended its events in the wake of the pandemic. While virtual racing events played through computers might be satisfying for some fans, they’re not everyone’s cup of tea.
The Natural (1984)
The Natural is a 1984 film based on Bernard Malamud's novel of the same. Like Field of Dreams, it’s a moving tale of supernatural events and a love of the game. After Roy Hobbs’ father dies of a heart attack, a baseball bat made from a lightning-struck tree propels him on a heartfelt baseball journey.
Happy Gilmore (1996)
Golf may seem like a tame sport to those who don’t know it well, but there’s nothing tame at all in Happy Gilmore, an Adam Sandler movie about a former hockey player with rage issues who turns to golf.
Field of Dreams (1989)
Many sports movies have their share of emotion, but Field of Dreams takes things to a whole new level. It’s a story about the joy of baseball first and foremost, but even people who aren’t interested in the game can connect to the protagonist’s longing to better know his father.
The Program (1983)
If you’re missing college football in particular, The Program can meet your needs and then some. While the heart of the action is on the field, it also touches on the dark side of college sports, such as alcohol and drug use.
A lot of the thrill of sports is seeing the hard work of dedicated athletes pay off in real time. Movies might not have the benefit of being real, but that doesn’t mean they can’t tell a compelling story. And what sports movie has a protagonist and tale so compelling that it was extended with five sequels and two spinoffs? Rocky, of course.
The Sandlot (1976)
Adults aren’t the only ones who have to give up sports during the pandemic; many kids are also unable to play in Little League teams across the country. If you’re looking for cinematic sports experience that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, consider The Sandlot.
Dodgeball isn’t exactly a regularly televised sport, and few people play it outside of high school gym classes. Nonetheless, if you’re looking for nonsensical fun that captures thrill of sticking it to the other guy and coming together as a team, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story could be your movie.
Cool Runnings (1993)
Historically, Jamaica has been famed for its sprinters and other runners in the Olympics. However, in 1988, the Caribbean island country also introduced its first bobsled team, paving the way for this sports classic.
The Replacements (2000)
In addition to sports, two Keanu Reeves movies — the fourth installments of The Matrix and John Wick alike — have been postponed by the pandemic. Fortunately, there’s an excellent way to pass the time while waiting for more sports and Reeves alike.
Space Jam (1996)
Sometimes, you want gritty realism in sports movies: actors who trained for months for the part, believable games and maybe even appearances by real players. But other times, you want something else. Sometimes, you want Space Jam.
Necessary Roughness (1991)
Scandals are an inevitable part of football and sports in general, and a scandal is exactly how 1991 comedy Necessary Roughness begins. After a series of NCAA violations result in most of a previously ascendant football being banned from the game, replacements are brought in, and they’re not exactly regulars. Hilarity ensues.
Slap Shot (1977)
While hockey comedy Slapshot was only a moderate success upon its movie theater release, it slowly gained popularity over the years. Considering Paul Newman stars, it’s not surprising that the movie is now a classic.
Bad News Bears (1976)
Before The Sandlot, there was another young team of baseball misfits that captured the hearts of baseball movie lovers everywhere. Before The Mighty Ducks, another alcoholic coach volunteered in a kid's league for legal reasons. The original team of terrible tykes is The Bad News Bears.
The Wrestler (2008)
Without professional wrestling organizations like the WWE in operation, wrestling fans everywhere have found themselves out of luck. However, one fictional wrestling movie is guaranteed to get the blood pumping.
White Men Can't Jump (1992)
Maybe rather than watching sports, you miss being able to play them yourself. From trash talking to friendships, a neighborhood game of basketball has a lot to it that watching players on a screen just can’t offer.
The Longest Yard (1974, 2005)
The Longest Yard tells the tale of a former football star, Paul Crewe, whose bad decisions send him to prison. Unbeknown to him, the warden of the prison lobbied for Crewe to be assigned to his facility specifically so that he could force him to play in a game of inmates versus prison guards.
The Karate Kid (1984)
Martial arts may not be televised as much as football or even golf, but many people nevertheless miss the opportunity to practice them personally. While The Karate Kid is undoubtedly more dramatic than most people’s experiences of learning the martial arts, that’s probably not a bad thing in a movie.
Ford v Ferrari (2019)
Whether you’re a fan of racing or just really, really nice cars, Ford v Ferrari is worth a look. It’s based on the real-life competition between underdog American car company Ford and Italian competitor Ferrari, the latter of which dominated the racetrack in the 1960s.
If Groundhog Day and its plot of every day being maddeningly the same feels too real while social distancing, Caddyshack offers its own share of Bill Murray humor with a side of golf shenanigans, including an extended hunt of a clearly stuffed gopher. It’s a good time all around.
Remember the Titans (2000)
Remember the Titans is the sort of sports movie that if you haven’t seen it, you’ve still definitely heard of it. Based on the true story of desegregation in 1970s Virginia, the movie follows two football teams, one from a formerly white school and the other from a formerly African-American one, that must come together to form a team
If you miss the brawls and violence of hockey most of all, then you might enjoy Goon. This largely Canadian sports comedy follows a bouncer-turned-hockey player, and it includes no shortage of showdowns on the ice.
Bull Durham (1988)
Bull Durham belongs to the lesser-seen sports romance comedy subgenre, and it offers a bit of something for everyone. With performances by Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, it’s an enjoyable film from start to finish.