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: Sugar (2008)

  • Sports movies: Pat and Mike (1952)

  • Sports movies: Friday Night Lights (2004)

  • Sports movies: The Natural (1984)

  • Sports movies: The Endless Summer (1966)

  • Sports movies: Ali (2001)

  • Sports movies: Seabiscuit (2003)

  • Sports movies: Tokyo Olympiad (1965)

  • Sports movies: The Karate Kid (1984)

  • Sports movies: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

Sports movies: Sugar (2008)

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Sports movies: Sugar (2008)

Sugar (2008)

For every Adrián Beltré success story (he was signed to the Dodgers at age 15 and transitioned well), there are a dozen Dominican players like the fictional composite Miguel “Sugar” Santos—a talented pitcher hacking it out in the U.S. minor leagues. Filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden lay on the culture clashes beautifully, but it’s the dangling promise of the American Dream that really gets this movie hitting fly balls over the fence.—David Fear

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29
Sports movies: Pat and Mike (1952)

Pat and Mike (1952)

In real life, Katharine Hepburn was no slouch on the tennis court or the golf course; that’s Kate herself swinging those rackets and clubs in this rom-com costarring Spencer Tracy. Her natural abilities, plus cameos from pro athletes like Betty Hicks and Gussie Moran, add an edge of realism to this story about competitions of the body and the heart.—David Fear

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28
Sports movies: Friday Night Lights (2004)

Friday Night Lights (2004)

Before there was a beloved TV series, there was Peter Berg’s feature film about high-school football in Texas—a lyrical, stirring look at the way communities revolve around their pigskin heroes. Even a viewer who doesn’t know a punt from a pass could understand how these games could give an economically gutted small town something to believe in.—David Fear

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27
Sports movies: The Natural (1984)

The Natural (1984)

This is the moment when baseball becomes golden-hued pageantry onscreen, the diamond dappled with sunbeams and the promise of redemption. Even if the film changed the ending of Bernard Malamud’s classic novel, there’s no doubting the genius of cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (Zooey’s dad) and effortless star Robert Redford.—Joshua Rothkopf

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26
Sports movies: The Endless Summer (1966)

The Endless Summer (1966)

The granddaddy of surfing docs follows longboarders Mike Hynson and Robert August as they trek around the world looking for the perfect wave. Bruce Brown’s lively film not only set the template for every extreme-sports vérité profile that followed, it helped sell surf culture to a global audience, inspiring thousands to start hanging ten.—David Fear

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25
Sports movies: Ali (2001)

Ali (2001)

Michael Mann’s vivid, visceral biopic explores an eventful decade (1964–1974) in the life of prominent prizefighter Muhammad Ali (Will Smith, exuding both mystery and magnetism). More than just the story of a man, this hypnotically impressionistic film weighs the influential athlete’s accomplishments against a tumultuous historic period.—Keith Uhlich

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24
Sports movies: Seabiscuit (2003)

Seabiscuit (2003)

As Gary Ross’s biopic shows, the title’s gangly bay beat the odds to become a champion racehorse and brought out the best in his stellar jockey, Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire). It also demonstrates how, like the best champions, the thoroughbred inspired a wounded nation to brush itself off and get back in the saddle.—David Fear

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23
Sports movies: Tokyo Olympiad (1965)

Tokyo Olympiad (1965)

Japan’s first hosting of the Games in 1964 was considered a massively important moment for national rebranding. After testy Akira Kurosawa was taken off the plum assignment, the job went to the more flexible Kon Ichikawa, who produced an unusually thorough and artful tribute to both winners and losers.—Joshua Rothkopf

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22
Sports movies: The Karate Kid (1984)

The Karate Kid (1984)

Or Rocky for teens: The underdog in this rousing ’80s gem is bullied adolescent Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) who crane-kicks his way to the top with the help of martial-arts sage and car-waxer extraordinaire Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita).—Keith Uhlich

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21
Sports movies: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

Angrier-than-thou young man Tom Courtenay wants to pick a fight with the world; instead, this borstal boy finds solace in competitive running. This British drama gives viewers a great sense of the way sports can help troubled kids wrestle their demons and gain self-confidence. It also ends with one of the most unlikely inspirational movie moments ever.—David Fear

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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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