I love sports movies. They share stories of perseverance, heroism, comebacks, and the underdog. Additionally, they often inspire us to push ourselves to things we never thought we could accomplish. With all that is going on in our world and culture, I feel we could all use a little inspiration. And with the majority of sports being cancelled, many of us could use a little sports fix.
The following list is not my list of best or most inspiring sports movies, but they do meet two specific criteria: (1) family friendly and (2) they are some of my favorites. So pop a bag of popcorn, curl up on the couch, and get ready to get your sports fix on.
Though not based on a true story, Hoosiers is inspired by the 1954 Milan High School basketball team, the smallest school to ever win the Indiana high school basketball state championship. In the movie, Coach Norman Dale comes to Hickory High School after being out of coaching for over 10 years. His new and different styles ruffle the feathers of many in town, but he ultimately gains the favor of the town when the team makes it to the state championship. IMDB Parents Guide.
The story of the legendary “Pistol” Pete Maravich. Even though Pete was one of the smallest boys in his high school, his skill with a basketball earned him a spot on the varsity basketball team. With the encouragement of his father, he eventually helps his team adapt to a new form of basketball and win a lot of games while doing so. He even manages to earn his nemesis respect. IMDB Parents Guide.
Remember the Titans
When the Alexandria school district decided to integrate public schools in 1971, they combined a white and a black high school along with its football team. The long time head coach of the white football team is demoted to assistant coach as the new coach of the black football team takes center stage as the head coach of the newly integrated T. C. Williams Titans. The movie chronicles the struggle of the players, coaches, and the town’s residents to adjust to their new reality. IMDB Parents Guide.
Woodlawn converges two stories into one. The first story chronicles the journey of Tony Nathan struggling to find his identity as a football player at Woodlawn High School after the school is desegregated in 1973. The second story follows the amazing Christian awakening in Birmingham, AL as Hank Erwin shares the gospel with the team and the community. IMDB Parents Guide.
While I have some personal animus toward this movie that has nothing to do with the movie itself, The Rookie is an excellent movie. After blowing out his shoulder in the minor leagues, Jim Morris takes a job teaching chemistry and coaching baseball in small town Texas where football is king. During one of his practices, Morris challenges his players to dream big and go after their goals. The team responds by challenging Morris to go after his dream of playing big league baseball. After throwing a 98 mph fastball in tryouts, the 39 year old Morris gets his chance to play ball once again. IMDB Parents Guide.
The Sandlot chronicles the adventures of Scotty Smalls as he learns the game of baseball out on a sandlot and makes friends in his new town. Some of his adventures include camping out in a tree house, swimming at the local pool, and the traveling fair. I’ll be honest The Sandlot is not one of my favorites, but it is a favorite of many, so I include it in my list of family friendly sports movies. IMDB Parents Guide.
As American as apple pie is American triumph over the Russians (my apologies to my Russian friends). In one of the great hockey movies, Coach Herb Brooks leads the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team to a surprise victory over the Russians in the quarter finals and then over Finland to capture the gold medal. However, the movie focuses on Brooks unconventional coaching style and the Miracle-on-Ice game where, in an unlikely upset, the Americans beat the Russians to advance. IMDB Parents Guide.
When amateur surfer Bethany Hamilton gets attacked by a shark, it looks like her surfing career is over. However, Hamilton refuses to give up. As she refocuses her life on Christ, she faces her fear and begins to train once again. Finally, as she competes against the best amateur surfers in the world, she regains much needed perspective and passion. IMDB Parents Guide.
Chariots of Fire
The movie follows the story of Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams as they compete in the 1924 Olympics. Liddell, a committed Christian, sees his running as a chance to use his God-given gift to honor God and share the gospel. However, when Liddell’s strongest event is scheduled for a Sunday, Liddell must decide if he will honor God by not running on the Sabbath. Facing enormous pressure from all around, Liddell decides to forgo running in his strongest event, perhaps letting down the hopes of an entire nation. IMDB Parents Guide.
Who would have thought that there would be a Jamaican bobsled team? Well, when Derice Bannock’s Olympic opportunity in track is dashed by a clumsy competitor, Bannock decides to look for another opportunity. When Bannock learns that his father had been recruited for a bobsled team, he believes that might be his chance. Bannock convinces the old coach, Irv, and a few others from the island to create the very first Jamacian bobsled team. Hated by their own and hated by the other bobsled teams for being different, they persevere through every trial that is thrown their way. IMDB Parents Guide.