Sports movies: The top 50 sports films of all time

Get into the game with our definitive list of the best sports movies: inspirational dramas, rude comedies and classic documentaries celebrating the real thing.

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  • Sports movies: The Set-Up (1949)

  • Sports movies: Personal Best (1982)

  • Sports movies: Knute Rockne All American (1940)

  • Sports movies: Gentleman Jim (1942)

  • Sports movies: Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)

  • Sports movies: This Sporting Life (1963)

  • Sports movies: Undisputed (2002)

  • Sports movies: Pumping Iron (1977)

  • Sports movies: White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

  • Sports movies: Jerry Maguire (1996)

Sports movies: The Set-Up (1949)

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Sports movies: The Set-Up (1949)

The Set-Up (1949)

In this dark, disturbing noir, the great Robert Ryan plays a has-been pugilist who learns his manager has fixed one of his bouts—which unleashes some of the old fighting spirit. The jittery boxing sequences directly influenced Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull.—Keith Uhlich

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39
Sports movies: Personal Best (1982)

Personal Best (1982)

The characters are U.S. track-and-fielders striving to qualify for the women’s team headed for the 1980 Olympics (a Games the States would boycott). But what will always set this drama apart is its exploration of physical attraction between same-sex competitors, presented in an honest, nonexploitative manner. Side note: Here’s how you do arm wrestling.—Joshua Rothkopf

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38
Sports movies: Knute Rockne All American (1940)

Knute Rockne All American (1940)

Pat O’Brien may have played the titular character in this ode to the legendary Notre Dame football figurehead, but it’s Ronald Reagan’s gridiron all-star, George Gipp, who inspired football’s most famous inspirational motto: “Let’s win one for the Gipper!” So many coaches have quoted the movie’s line that Reagan’s estate should be paid annual royalties.—David Fear

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37
Sports movies: Gentleman Jim (1942)

Gentleman Jim (1942)

One of Hollywood’s most charismatic actors plays one of the sweet science’s most charming practitioners: You’d swear Errol Flynn was born to play heavyweight champion “Gentleman Jim” Corbett. Raoul Walsh’s film re-creates 1890’s rollicking, game-changing Corbett vs. John L. Sullivan match—the moment when boxing became as much about brains as brawn.—David Fear

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36
Sports movies: Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)

Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)

The director, Stacy Peralta, was a teenage celebrity in the late-’70s: a SoCal skateboarder whose revolutionary style got him all the way to a cameo on Charlie’s Angels. His affectionate, irreverent profile of his fearless comrades plays more like a rock documentary, the band broken up by money, endorsements and bad luck.—Joshua Rothkopf

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35
Sports movies: This Sporting Life (1963)

This Sporting Life (1963)

Director Lindsay Anderson made his fiction debut with this gritty tale of a hotheaded coal miner (Richard Harris) who finds stardom on the rugby field. Harris’s jagged-edge performance complements the film’s immersively rough-hewn aesthetic; even the sports scenes feel as if they’ve been doused in kitchen-sink grime.—Keith Uhlich

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34
Sports movies: Undisputed (2002)

Undisputed (2002)

Fueled by a scrappy, improvisatory energy, this prison-set boxing drama pits a recently incarcerated heavyweight champ (Ving Rhames) against a yard favorite (Wesley Snipes). Apart from the imminent clash of fists and egos, there’s a fascinating side plot concerning promotion, masterminded by elderly con Peter Falk in one of his craftiest turns.—Joshua Rothkopf

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33
Sports movies: Pumping Iron (1977)

Pumping Iron (1977)

The biceps are watermelon-size, the grunts deafening and the imposed narratives a little dodgy. But boring this docudrama is not. Mainly, it serves as a fascinating peek at two future superstars, Arnold Schwarzenegger (witty and already a ham) and TV-Hulk-to-be Lou Ferrigno, his chief competition for the title of Mr. Olympia.—Joshua Rothkopf

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32
Sports movies: White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

No film better captures the psych-out art of athletic trash-talking than Ron Shelton’s ode to playground B-ballers. Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes display serious game on the court, but it’s the way they gracefully ace lines like “Still throwing up bricks? What is this, a mason’s convention?” that makes the duo so dynamic.—David Fear

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31
Sports movies: Jerry Maguire (1996)

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Writer-director Cameron Crowe casts an eye off the field in his crowd-pleasing romantic comedy, focusing on a conscientious sports agent (Tom Cruise) who starts his own firm. Classic scenes abound, from Cruise’s ecstatic rendition of “Free Fallin’ ” to costar Cuba Gooding Jr.’s highly memorable demand to “Show me the money!”—Keith Uhlich

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Users say

57 comments
Zachary Shelton
Zachary Shelton

There are many movies that you left off this list: -Glory Road -Coach Carter -Remember the Titans -Cool Runnings

Paul
Paul

i think the list is pretty good, some stuff i hadn't seen before. agree cool runnings should be there or thereabouts and am i the only one who loves midnight sting??

tigerGUY
tigerGUY

Are you f'ing kidding me?

seriously?
seriously?

friday night lights should easily be top 5 all time

della
della

where is remember the titans? cant leave denzel out of this list and the story is very touching.

Joe Mamma
Joe Mamma

Seriously? Where's Rudy? As I was scrolling I was truly expecting Rudy to be #1. Unreal.

Lee rust
Lee rust

the fact that "Mystery Alaska" isnt in this makes me not respect any of this!! also ihate baseball but "The Sandlot" come on both of these movies should be gimmies!!!

kyle
kyle

the legend of bagger vance....

st anger
st anger

No remember the titans? For shame.

Shane
Shane

umm remeber the titans???

Anthony Bullaro
Anthony Bullaro

I do not know how the author of this list graded these movies but as soon as I saw "A League of Their Own" was ahead of "Field of Dreams" I could not keep reading.

You Reahomo
You Reahomo

oh and Sandlot, Remember the Titans, Rudy, The Mighty Ducks, Warrior, and HAPPY GILMORE! f*ck you

You Reahomo
You Reahomo

You missed Mystery Alaska and Space Jam. This list is pathetic

Joe
Joe

Leaving out Rudy and Remember the Titans while including Bend it like Beckham and Dodgeball is asinine. Not to say that Dodgeball is a bad movie, but Rudy and Remember the Titans are classic feel good sports movies that define the genre.

Omer
Omer

Warrior should be in this list and easily on the higher end!

Mark06
Mark06

where is Rudy(1993)?!

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David Reynolds
David Reynolds

How on Earth is Remember the Titans not on this list?!

ian
ian

Rudy?

tom
tom

no For Love of the Game?????

Solomon Keithley
Solomon Keithley

Bend it like beckham is on here....... but no rudy? this is a joke

Melanie
Melanie

I love the fact that Rocky is the first one

nathan
nathan

I enjoyed the article, but in my opinion you are missing a terrific movie from the list: Remember the Titans. Although it's a disney movie, there is no way that it is not in the top 50 sports movies. Well acted and a touching thesis, the only thing left to be desired is an ending that isn't such a hollywood cliche.

chris
chris

Where is Rudy?

adam
adam

Rudy??? Ever heard of it? I was surprised to see that it was not in your top ten, but not even on the list...Seriously? Yet, Dodgeball, Bend it like Beckham, and Any Given Sunday are? This list is a joke.

Matthew Kessel Lyon
Matthew Kessel Lyon

I'm sorry, but I don't respect and "top sports movies" list that doesn't include Remember the Titans.

Charles
Charles

No Rememer The Titans, the Pistol? come on...

Horse
Horse

did I miss Rudy?

wf!
wf!

This list, should bring shame to your family. Cinderella Man in my opinion, is the greatest boxing movie of all time. To not have it in your list is inexcusable! SHAME!

Thomas
Thomas

Great list except missing one of the best Boaz Yakin's Rememeber the Titans

jb
jb

no rudy is a joke

Sam
Sam

This list means nothing. Unless I missed it, Remember the Titans isn't even on there....

RISSE75
RISSE75

ever see Major League? if you had, it would be in this list. So go watch it and fix the list.

Jack Winters
Jack Winters

No Remember The Titans, Warrior or Waterboy but you made space for Bend It Like Beckham?

Darren
Darren

Awesome article but shocked that Remember the Titans(top 5, if not number 1) one of the greatest sporting movies ever made, and Coach Carter didnt crack the list! 'Ya'all wanna victory?"

joe
joe

Senna was so excellent. Great list.

Alex
Alex

Why is Remember the Titans not on here???

fred
fred

What about "Remember the Titans" or "We are Marshall" The two best in my opinion.

Giorgio Meneses
Giorgio Meneses

Remember The Titans? Glory Road? Coach Carter? Space Jam?

Dylan Dierig
Dylan Dierig

Hoosiers and miracle dont even crack the top ten????? thats messed up

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