ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Spiking the Cinematic Ball: Ten Overlooked Sports Films and Five That Should be Forgotten

Updated on November 17, 2019
heather92383 profile image

Heather has a Bachelor's Degree in English from Moravian College and has been freelance writing for more than 15 years.

Le Mans Poster
Le Mans Poster
Johnny Be Good Poster
Johnny Be Good Poster
Happy Gilmore Poster
Happy Gilmore Poster
Mystery, Alaska Poster
Mystery, Alaska Poster
The Legend of Bagger Vance Poster
The Legend of Bagger Vance Poster
The World's Fastest Indian Poster
The World's Fastest Indian Poster
Believe in Me Poster
Believe in Me Poster
Invictus Poster
Invictus Poster
Against the Current Poster
Against the Current Poster
Secretariat Poster
Secretariat Poster

"Let's play ball!" That's a phrase many sports fans think of at the start of a baseball game, or at least think while they watch ESPN. In terms of sports movies, the same rule also applies when it comes to associating your favorite sports movies with the standard movie plotline of a hero overcoming extreme obstacles. Sometimes certain movies do better than others (Rudy and Field of Dreams) due to timing and simple plot circumstances.

For one reason of another, not every sports films is given their proper due in theatres or on DVD. Occasionally, it takes a village to find a diamond in the rough on Netflix or on television. Here are a list of ten films that are most definitely worthy at least one viewing and a handful that are best to be left sight unseen. Read on to decide for yourself what's worth watching and what isn't.

Cinematic Diamonds

Le Mans (1971)- This movie was star Steve McQueen's passion project about a race car driver who returns to a race after a tragic accident last year left another driver dead. He returns to the race to start over and runs into his past headlong. What made audiences overlook this movie the first time was the fact that it focused on the racing scenes more than the actual plot itself. There were long stretches of time when there was hardly any conversation at all. The real jewel was the racing scenes which seemed to have been done with painstaking detail while the rest was simply secondary due to a lack of a polished script. Watch it if you're a racing fan or a Steve McQueen fan.

Bad News Bears (1976)- Walter Matthau plays a drunken Baseball coach of a kid's team that doesn't have to much of a hope of winning. It was bascially Matthau playing a sloppier version of his Odd Couple character with a winsome performance by Tatum O'Neal as his daughter. The dreadful Billy Bob Thornton remake won't even be mentioned in the same breath, which attempted to capitalize on the original and failed miserably.

Happy Gilmore (1996)- An Adam Sandler comedy about golf that took a backseat to Sandler's crazy comedy. A poor man's Tin Cup in terms of golf scenes. Even though the sports scene were hard to believe, the movie was still enjoyable nonetheless based on Sandler's lovable charm and a decent supporting cast to boot.

Mystery Alaska (1999)- A small town group of misfits turn into a hockey team with the misguided notion that they'll win against a more experienced team. The film featured an early Russell Crowe before he became an Oscar winner and a tabloid favorite. He portrayed a small town man who dreamt of greater things before he realized his greatest accomplishment was his family. Watch this film for some great comedic and sports moments about underdogs working to achieve greatness no matter what.

A Gentleman's Game (2002)- This Game was a golf version of The Karate Kid with Gary Sinise as the sage instructor and Mason Gamble as the ingenue. Instead of Sinise divulging platitudes, he allowed his instructor to give into his sarcastic impulses as he loosened his defenses around Gamble. They built a friendship that happened by accident and would likely change them both for the better. The movie had some flaws in the plot about class differences and some bad behavior, but they can be ignored based on the rapport between Gamble and Sinise.

The World's Fastest Indian (2005)- Anthony Hopkins played a man who traveled a great distance to break a racing record. He made some friends along the way and revealed parts of his character that he never recognized before. Fastest is a memorable film to watch because it sometimes takes brains and brawn to win a competition. This film is often overlooked because Hopkins is remembered more for his villain roles than in films like this one. Rent this and enjoy.

Believe in Me (2006)- An uplifting story about a 1960s girls basketball coach (Jeffrey Donovan) who wanted to coach the boys team and soon fell in love with the job. The girls became his unofficial daughters and they loved him just as much. The movie had the girls and the coach fighting to be taken seriously throughout the whole film, which caused the audience to be invested in the team. When they reached the finals, you couldn't help but root for them to win. Watch it and believe in winning no matter what.

The Express (2008)- Based on a true story about Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) a college football star, who died young due to a life threatening illness, paved the way for other African American athletes in the sport. Dennis Quaid costarred as a conventional coach who became Davis' biggest supporter. This film is memorable because of how the two men were impacted socially due to their common interest in winning the game. Watch this and learn about a player that only sports afficionados are familiar with.

Invictus (2009)- A Clint Eastwood directed film based on a true story with Morgan Freeman in an award worthy performance as Nelson Mandela. What made the movie work was the chemistry between Matt Damon and Freeman as they served as mentee and mentor to each other. Sadly, this movie was mostly left under the radar due to it being released in a busy Christmas/Oscar season. It would've been better served released at a different time when audiences could've appreciated it better.

Secretariat (2010)- Diane Lane as a headstrong horse owner who overcomes the odds to win the Triple Crown. What made this film worth watching was Lane's performance as a strong woman who could be a housewife and a businesswoman at the same time. She was a feminist and didn't even know it. Secretariat also showcased Lane's relationship with her character's father and her enduring love for him. The movie was overlooked at the time because the movie tended to focus on Lane's family drama than the race itself.

Should Be Forgotten

Youngblood (1986)- Rob Lowe as a good boy hockey player? Not believable in the slightest when his most popular film roles involved him playing an arrogant playboy (Class and St. Elmo's Fire). It was nice to see Patrick Swayze pop up as his friend/fellow player. The movie would've been better served if the roles were reversed because Swayze would've been more convincing as the lead character.

Johnny Be Good (1988)- It's about a talented footbal player (Anthony Michael Hall) being wooed by numerous college campuses into playing for their teams. Some of the behavior was outlandish, but possibly believable from past stories of such behavior. Sadly, the movie failed because no one was able to buy Anthony Michael Hall's transformation from nerd to jock overnight. If it was better cast, the movie could've potentially succeeded instead of becoming a forgettable failure.

The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)- The trio of Robert Redford, Matt Damon and Will Smith couldn't save this film from being a dull clunker from start to finish. It had the potential to be a golf version of A River Runs Through It but the end result was more of a philosophical head scratcher than a clear movie. Rent A River Runs Through It instead for better results.

Summer Catch (2001)- This Catch should be thrown back in the water for good. There's not even much baseball activity going on. The story is about a group of minor league ballplayers, but it soons desolves into a subpar romance between a poor boy (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and a rich girl (Jessica Biel). Watch Bull Durham instead if you want to see Minor League Baseball and laughs..

Against the Current (2010)- Well, technically this isn't truly a sports film but it does follow the plot of the main character trying to overcome some large obstacles. Depressed widower Paul (Joseph Fiennes) decides to swim 150 miles in two weeks back to New York City. He had no training and an ulterior motive to kill himself at the end. It's that depressing subplot that ultimately wrecks the movie and makes it something worth forgetting once it's over.

In conclusion, not every sports movie follows the standard hero overcomes all odds plot. Sometimes the game itself takes a backseat to a generic romantic subplot (Summer Catch) or some family drama that's ruins the movie as a whole (American Flyers). The worst case would be when a sports film has all the elements of a great film and simply doesn't deliver (Any Given Sunday). In the end, the choice is yours about what movie is worth watching even if it looks like a train wreck in the previews.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)