There are many movies that you left off this list: -Glory Road -Coach Carter -Remember the Titans -Cool Runnings
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.
Mon Sep 17 2012
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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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??
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!!!
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.
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.
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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.
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.
I'm sorry, but I don't respect and "top sports movies" list that doesn't include Remember the Titans.
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!
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?"
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