I love the movie “Moneyball” so much that I get chills whenever I think about it. Quarantine has given me the opportunity to indulge in the wonderful world of sports movies. After a couple of weeks now of rediscovering this wonderful world, I’ve confirmed the notion that there are very, very few bad sports movies.
Before breaking down why this is true, I think it’s important to note what the world has become. For the first time since World War II, we won’t even have an Olympics to watch. Without sports, no one got to witness someone sinking a buzzer beater to win the March Madness NCAA tournament, no one got to see the opening day of America’s pastime, and no one got to witness what would’ve been the greatest NBA playoffs of all time.
The coronavirus has taken away moments that unite us. That same binding force is what inspires all the kids who dream of going pro, the same that allows a stressed out parent needing something to unwind and forget about all the pains of the day, that same force drives decade-long fans of teams to follow them through the postseason blindly rooting for them despite the fact that they know the team won’t make it far.
Sure, you can try to recapture these moments by re-airing old games, but it’s not the same. But if there’s one place where that magic doesn’t go away, it’s sports movies. If sports are already so captivating to Americans, adding some fancy editing, decent characterization, and an engaging narrative, it’s hard to lose. Think “The Game Plan” on Disney+ starring none other than The Rock. It is a movie I saw before my age was in the double digits and still provides the same wonderful overwhelming sense of optimism the same way it did when I saw it for the first time. Maybe it’s not entirely realistic that a star NFL quarterback would abandon his daughter at a celebrity party, but the beauty of sports movies always prevails in the end, always with a feel-good, high-tension victory against the odds.
Think about “Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham” or “For the Love of the Game.” Kevin Costner and baseball movies scream feel-good, as they’re some of the most wholesome movies you’ll ever see. Hockey deserves love too, as “Miracle” is an American classic that’s bound to give chills every time you watch it, even if you already know how it ends.
Even the direct-to-TV B sports movies are good, as “Goon” is a sleeper hit that blends a feel-good romance with the high octane entertainment derived from hockey. “The Way Back” just recently released straight to digital due to the coronavirus. It is a deeply moving story of a man who uses a high school basketball coaching gig to guide him through his recovery.
Sports movies are important now more than ever. If you ever get bored during the quarantine, which you will, find a good sports movie to watch, and try not to smile by the time the credits roll. We’re missing out on a lot of moments, but we can still unlock the child in us who sees the world with a blinded sense of optimism using the magic of sports movies.