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: Click to the next image to see our top 50 sports films of all time

  • Sports movies: Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

  • Sports movies: Big Fan (2009)

  • Sports movies: Murderball (2005)

  • Sports movies: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

  • Sports movies: Eight Men Out (1988)

  • Sports movies: Big Wednesday (1978)

  • Sports movies: Field of Dreams (1989)

  • Sports movies: A League of Their Own (1992)

  • Sports movies: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

  • Sports movies: The Fighter (2010)

Sports movies: Click to the next image to see our top 50 sports films of all time

London’s Olympics are already underway—and who knows how many hours you’ve logged watching disqualified teen gymnasts weep before a global audience. Let us suggest additional viewing: In ranking the 50 best sports movies of all time, we stuck to traditional athletics. (Please, chess and billiards fans, save the fury for another comments board.) To get in shape, we pounded the heavy bag, swore off sweets and drank plenty of raw eggs—by which we mean we watched a lot of DVDs. Surely there are titles we’ve missed. Raise a penalty flag if that’s the case. Remember, it’s not about winning—unless you’re counting backward in a ranked list. What’s the mightiest sports film of all time? Dive in and find out.


50
Sports movies: Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Fresh-faced Keira Knightley became a star when this crowd-pleasing cross-cultural drama booted its way into American multiplexes. Even if the definitive soccer movie is yet to be made, this one—about the importance of inclusiveness on the field and off—scores nicely.—Joshua Rothkopf

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49
Sports movies: Big Fan (2009)

Big Fan (2009)

Folks in the stands are thanked plenty enough come postseason, but how often do they get their own movie? After scripting The Wrestler, writer-director Robert D. Siegel turned his attention to the subject—darkly and with great empathy—via this tale of a Giants fan (Patton Oswalt) tackled by his own obsession.—Joshua Rothkopf

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48
Sports movies: Murderball (2005)

Murderball (2005)

Quadriplegic athletes don’t want your sympathy—and to watch them play their variation of wheelchair rugby, flesh and metal merging into living cruise missiles, they don’t want casual entertainment either. This exuberantly rude documentary captures the essence of sports euphoria in a surprising, universal way.—Joshua Rothkopf

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47
Sports movies: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004)

The bane of young nerds everywhere, this violent playground game offers the perfect vehicle to parody sports-movie clichés: the team of lovable misfits, the rich snob rivals, the tournament with a decisive sudden-death moment. Grafted onto a kids’ game, the high stakes seem hilariously absurd, even as you sincerely root for Vince Vaughn & Co. to be the last ones out.—David Fear

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46
Sports movies: Eight Men Out (1988)

Eight Men Out (1988)

Because it’s a John Sayles movie, you can expect the director’s heady brand of politicized entertainment. Still, the real-life scenario—about the infamous Chicago “Black Sox,” who threw the 1919 World Series—makes the stridency go down in riveting fashion, as does a dynamite cast led by John Cusack.—Joshua Rothkopf

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45
Sports movies: Big Wednesday (1978)

Big Wednesday (1978)

Three close-knit California dudes break the waves and comb their way through some turbulent political tides in John Milius’s awesomely macho surf drama. The cast is pure ’70s virility (Jan-Michael Vincent, William Katt, Gary Busey) and the spindrift set pieces are as epic as a Star Wars space battle.—Keith Uhlich

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44
Sports movies: Field of Dreams (1989)

Field of Dreams (1989)

Kevin Costner had already strutted his stuff once in Bull Durham, but Phil Alden Robinson’s sentimental tale of a man building a playing field in his backyard proved that the star was Hall of Fame material. Here, baseball isn’t just a game; it’s a chance for fathers, sons and even dead legends to have one last crack at redemption.—David Fear

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43
Sports movies: A League of Their Own (1992)

A League of Their Own (1992)

Penny Marshall’s funny and moving dramedy about a WWII-era women’s ball team has an A-list roster (Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna), some stellar pinch hitters (hey, Rosie O’Donnell) and memorable one-liners (“There’s no crying in baseball”) that’ll have you choking on your chewing tobacco.—Keith Uhlich

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42
Sports movies: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this tough, tear-jerking story about a gruff, aging trainer and the unseasoned female boxer (Hilary Swank) he takes under his wing. The film strikes a near-perfect balance between brawn (in the arduously raw fighting sequences) and sentimentality (in Eastwood and Swank’s tender surrogate father-daughter relationship).—Keith Uhlich

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41
Sports movies: The Fighter (2010)

The Fighter (2010)

Using vintage Betamax cameras and hiring veteran cable-sports crews to replicate the look of HBO’s mid-’90s boxing matches, David O. Russell adds a level of period-perfect verisimilitude to this biopic on welterweight champ Micky Ward. The stoic Boston brawler is played, punch for punch, by Mark Wahlberg, who personally nurtured the project for years.—David Fear

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  1. 50–41
  2. 40–31
  3. 30–21
  4. 20–11
  5. 10–1

Users say

31 comments
dimitris ionas
dimitris ionas

sorry but a list without major league is disgraceful. Cant argue with rocky being number 1, but i think the 2nd one was better.

Drew
Drew

The lack of "Warrior" degrades this list tremendously.

awesome one
awesome one

I can agree that rocky is the greatest sport film of all time.

Corey
Corey

uh, no Remember the Titans, Cinderella Man, Basketball Diaries..this list sucks

capitaine514
capitaine514

you forgot Nick Nolte-Blue chips ;) keep it up!

Devin Howard
Devin Howard

May be top 100 would be better, because there are a lot of other films out there. "He Got Game" "Above the Rim" "varsity Blues" and oh lol Rob Lowe "Young Blood"

jcwebb
jcwebb

Not in any specific order....Bull Durham, Raging Bull, Rocky, Hoosiers,Major League, The Natural, always make every top10. Hoop Dreams and Caddyshack top 10? Good flicks...not top 10, esp. when Remember the Titans, Hoosiers, and so many othe great films ranked lower!

Chris Williams
Chris Williams

The wrestler made the list and not The Program? Where is Rocky 4? Remember the Titans? He Got Game? Blue Chips?

Rhys
Rhys

Raging Bull should have been number 1 in my opinion it was so masterfully done. And I agree Cinderella Man should have been included.

Daniel
Daniel

What about Secretariat or Cinderella Man? And Any Given Sunday shouldn't even be on the list. It was terrible.

Kent U
Kent U

How could you or anybody else not even mention not to have Secretariat. Come on that is one of the greatest sports stories of all time. Karate Kid and not Secretariat.

Kirk
Kirk

I no I'm not from the "greatest city on earth", yawn! but this list is wildly inconsistent, and geocentric to New Yawk. While I applaud the research done to compile a list that includes many forgotten and great sports doc's, therein lies the problem. Is Lincoln up against Searching for Sugarman for best pic this year? No, and it shouldn't be, different art form. So I take issue with the criteria used for ranking them, personal taste, I suppose. Guess I'm just bitchin cuz I'd have Hoosiers over the Italian Stallion, and I'm from Michigan! But I went through the whole damn list, so...thanks!

Darrin
Darrin

And you have field of dreams at 44. And how did the Karate Kid make this list. Caddy Shack is a good movie but not much of a sports movie.

Darrin
Darrin

Wow you forgot Warrior, The Longest Yard, Sandlot, Remember the Titans, We Are Marshall, and a number of others.

Sport
Sport

Remember the titans, we are marshall, coach carter, road to glory.... are you serious?!

KEVIN & GORDY
KEVIN & GORDY

DID ANYBODY ELSE NOTICED IN # 27 THAT THE PERSON IN THE PICTURE IS GOING TO THROW THE BALL RIGHT-HANDED. AND WE ALL KNOW THAT IN THE MOVIE ROY HOBBS STRIKES OUT THE WHAMMER ON 3 PITCHES, LEFTHANDED!

Funkysylvanelf
Funkysylvanelf

How about Remember the titans?? Return to your homeworks son!

James
James

Really? No Mighty ducks?

tch71
tch71

what about The Color of Money and The Hustler?

Gwen
Gwen

VICTORY, Michael Caine Sylvester Stallone, and Pele!!!

Geoxie
Geoxie

Bump for Brian's Song - And, ehem! ROLLERBALL? Duh.

John G.
John G.

Are you kidding me?! No Rudy and Any Given Sunday at #20? That's silly.

alfred weiss
alfred weiss

Too bad the trendy shunnung of musicals kept DAMN YANKEES off the list.

sara
sara

good list ! My favorite is Bull Durham !

Sally
Sally

Thank you,Thomas,I couldn't agree more...

Jordan
Jordan

This list is weak. Rocky at number one is cliche. Being that this is TimeOutNY not TimeOutBoston (or Philly), there are plenty of Yankees movies you left out, and "Pride" should be a helluva lot higher than 11th. It had Babe Ruth in it for God's sake! Also where is Basketball Diaries? I like sports movies that invoke childhood memories of the City.

Thomas
Thomas

What about Rudy?