Films have an incredible way of inspiring others — especially sports cinema. Even for those who aren’t sports fans, movies that focus on a team, or just a single player, add a unique perspective into the dynamic world of athletics.
In honor of the start of the fall sports season at the University of New Mexico, let’s take a look at great sport films to watch during this upcoming season.
“Coach Carter” (2005)
Based on the true story of Ken Carter, this film focuses on the struggles Carter faces returning to his old high school in Richmond, CA. Upon taking the head coach position of the men’s basketball team at Richmond High, Carter’s first hurdle is to make sure the members of the team stay out of trouble on the streets. What is great about “Coach Carter” is that the movie not only focuses in on the life of Ken Carter, but the lives of several teammates and the challenges they face in their city. Taking drastic measures for his team to be successful, Coach Carter ultimately defines what it means to be a student-athlete. The film is one of the few sports films to truly focus on the importance of academics, and how it is crucial to the individual and team’s success.
“The Blind Side” (2009)
Also based on a true story, “The Blind Side” is the story of Michael Oher. Having grown up in a rough part of town through his teen years, Oher catches the attention of Leigh Anne Tuohy when she notices that he doesn’t have a place to stay on a rainy night. From that point on, the movie follows the drastic transformation Oher’s life takes on by having the help of the Tuohy family. Oher’s first change was his schooling — he ends up attending the same Christian academy Tuohy’s young son and teenage daughter attend. It’s at school where Oher began his football journey, where he can achieve his goal of earning a college scholarship for football. This is another sports film that emphasizes the importance of academics along with sports, and shows just how hard one must work to become successful in something they are passionate for. The tear-jerking film is an incredibly inspirational story for those who may not be given much at first, but can become successful through persistence and hard work.
“The Legend of Bagger Vance” (2000)
Starring Will Smith and Matt Damon, “The Legend of Bagger Vance” is a fictional story of an incredible golf caddy helping a struggling local golfer get his game back. Rannulph Junuh’s golf career seemed promising, but WWI turned his world upside down and golf was no longer a focus of his life. This film highlights the importance of not giving up on what you love, and to not lose sight of what’s truly important in life. In this case, the importance of life is happiness. Bagger Vance, played by Will Smith, shows Junuh how to achieve a successful golf game, as well as important life lessons.
Starring Chadwick Boseman, this film is an autobiographical film of the legendary baseball player, Jackie Robinson. The film highlights the racial tension in America during the 1940s, and just how far Robinson was willing to go to become the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. Going back to his days of playing in the African-American baseball leagues for the Montreal Royals, the film shows the bigotry Robinson faced once he started playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Branch Rickey, played by Harrison Ford, sticks his neck out for Robinson as the owner of the Dodgers because he believes that he can change the game of baseball. This film is great for everyone regardless of interest in baseball, because it offers knowledge of incredible history that helped change American history.
“When the Game Stands Tall” (2014)
Based on a true story, this film focuses on the incredible 151 game winning streak of the De La Salle Spartan’s football team in Concord, CA. Like “Coach Carter,” the film takes an inside look at the life of head coach Bob Ladouceur and the rest of his team. However, due to the team’s overwhelming success, it is decided that their schedule should have them facing more difficult opponents to try to give the team more exposure to college recruiters. The team faces grueling challenges, training and tragedy during the course of the film. Despite the obstacles they face, they show what it means to rise above and power through the pitfalls of life. Heartwarming and motivational, this football film is a must-see.
These are just several films that cover the world or sports, but there are many more that are worth watching. Here are honorable mentions that should also be on your next-watch list for the upcoming sports season: “The Sandlot” (1993), “Space Jam” (1996), “Million Dollar Arm” (2014), “The Greatest Game Ever Played” (2005), “Remember the Titans” (2000), “Miracle” (2004), “Cool Runnings” (1993), “8 Seconds” (1994).
Macey Rose is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @maceyrae9.