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20 Greatest Sports Movies of All Time

Hoosiers (1986)

If you want a sports movie that hits all the important beats of the genre, you can't do much better than Hoosiers. You've got underdogs, you've got a coach incapable of anything but inspirational speeches, and obviously you've got a victory no one sees coming. 

The film loosely follows the story of the 1954 basketball state championship win by the team from Milan, Indiana--who, at the time, were the smallest school in the state to ever win a basketball title. With an all-star cast inlcuding Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey, and Dennis Hopper, it's no wonder that Hoosiers became an instant classic and is still a must-watch today. 

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Remember the Titans (2000)

This inspiring movie is based on the real story of a high school football team in 1971 Virginia. Denzel Washington and Will Patton play two high school football coaches, one black and one white, who have to learn to work together to coach their players after integration.

In addition to the compelling storyline, the film also features a fantastic soundtrack usings musicians from the era like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Marvin Gaye, and Cat Stevens. 

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The Longest Yard (1974)

In this hilarious classic, Burt Reynolds plays a former pro-quarterback who is sent to prison after leading police on a crazy car chase. He coaches his fellow inmates for a game against the prison guards.

 

The film was such a success that there have been several remakes of it over the years--including Mean Machine (2001), The Longest Yard (2005), and Captain Masr (2015). That being said, we highly encourage you to stick with the original. 

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Draft Day (2014)

Jennifer Garner and Kevin Costner, who portrays the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, star in this film that shows us the fast pace, behind the scenes scheming of an NFL draft day.

 

While this is a newer film and didn't do particularly well at the box office, it struck a chord with football fans. It's on its way to becoming a sports classic. 

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A League of Their Own (1992)

During World War II, the baseball world created the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. With many male players serving in the war effort, major league executives were looking for a way to keep American's love of baseball going. Eventually the league grew to over 600 women and over 10 teams. And it spawned one of the best movies of all time--A League of Their Own

With an all-star cast including Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Rosie O'Donnell, and even Madonna, A League of Their Own follows the struggles and victories of an all-woman baseball team in 1943. It was an instant hit with critics and viewers alike, and it remains one of the best baseball movies of all time. 

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The Blind Side (2009)

Sandra Bullock won a best actress oscar for playing a woman who, along with her husband, take in a troubled but talented homeless teen. Fans love the cameos by Lou Holtz, Nick Saban, and other NCAA football coaches.

 

The movie was an instant hit, racking up all kinds of awards--including an Oscar win for Bullock. And like several of the movies on this list, while football is front and center, the movies themes run deeper than just that. Even a sports hater is likely to enjoy this one. 

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We Are Marshall (2006)

In 1970, most of Marshall University’s football team, coaches, and a group of boosters died in a plane crash while returning from an away game. This tragic event was given the cinema treatment in 2006's We Are Marshall

 

The movie centers around surviving underclassmen players and a new head coach, played by Matthew McConaughey, as they struggle to overcome and rebuild the football program. Critics and viewers alike particularly praised McConaughey's performance as the best thing about the film.

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Greater (2016)

Destined to become a new classic, Greater is the heartening story of Brandon Burlsworth, an offensive lineman known for his thick, black glasses, who finds success after walking onto the Arkansas Razorbacks college football team.

 

Burlsworth's transformation into a football great is inspiring to watch, and despite his untimely death, it's clear his legacy still lives on. 

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Field of Dreams (1989)

"If you build it, he will come." Even if you've never seen Field of Dreams, you're probably familiar with its most iconic line. That's how popular this movie is. And this slightly supernatural baseball film deserves all the recognition it gets. 

The movie follows Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella who builds a baseball field on his property after hearing a mysterious voice utter the movie's iconic line. Once the field is built, long-dead baseball greats start turning up to play. And while the theme of the movie might be ghostly baseball, at its core, the film is really about Costner's character and his relationship with his late father. 

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Rudy (1993)

Based on a true story, this film follows the determination of Rudy Ruettiger, an underdog who wants to play for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. You'd be hard-pressed to find an underdog story better than this. 

 

Sports fans have been singing this movie's praises for years, but it's got lots to offer everyone. It stars Sean Astin in the titular role, so for any nerds out there who want to see Samwise Gamgee kick ass on a football field, this is the movie for you. 

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Friday Night Lights (2004)

This movie, starring Billy Bob Thornton, launched a hit television show and revealed the seriousness and competitive nature of high school football.

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While a lot of sports movies focus on professional or college athletes, this movie proves that high school football can be just as compelling, nail biting, and heartbreaking as a professional sport. 

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Semi-Tough (1977)

This comedy about pro football players in Miami features a love triangle between superstars Burt Reynolds, Jill Clayburgh, and Kris Kristofferson. It also parodies the self-help movement of the time.

 

This is a great sports pick for people who want a movie on the lighter side. Many films in the genre are pretty heavy-handed with the tragic backstories and adversity, but Semi-Tough is hilarious from start to finish. 

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Miracle (2004)

In 1980 the United States men's hockey team won the gold medal at the Olympics after defeating the Soviet team, who was favored to win. Called "the Miracle on Ice," this victory inspired the nation and eventually led to the 2004 biopic Miracle

Starring Kurt Russell as new head coach Herb Brooks, the movie follows the team in the lead up to their iconic match with the Soviets. Even though we know they're going to win all along, there aren't many sports movie moments more powerful than when they finally clinch the victory. 

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Brian's Song (1971)

Brian's Song was an ABC Movie of the Week in 1971 and starred James Caan (Brian Piccolo) and Billy Dee Williams (Gale Sayers). This inspirational true story focuses on the friendship between teammates. 

 

The film, which is based on a true story, tackles hard-hitting issues from cancer to race--and people still love it to this day. Creating a movie that people like is hard enough, but to create a 1970s made-for-TV movie that still gets mentioned is a truly amazing feat. 

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Knute Rockne, All American (1940)

If you weren't a fan of Reagan in the White House, why not give him a shot on the silver screen? This 40s film follows the football career of Knute Rockne, who played and coached at Notre Dame in the early 20th century. 

Pat O'Brien stars as Rockne, a Notre Dame player and later coach who helps to develop the forward pass. He also helps coach George Gipp, portrayed by Ronald Reagan. Fans have been saying "Win one for the Gipper" ever since this movie premiered. 

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The Sandlot (1993)

The Sandlot is really a double threat. It's an iconic sports movie because of its baseball theme, but it's also one of the best coming-of-age stories ever made, too. The stakes might not be as high as some other, gritter sports films, but it's one that every sports fan still needs to see. 

The story follows a group of kids as they spend their summer playing pickup baseball games at the local sandlot. Things take a comedic turn for the worse when one kid hits a Babe Ruth-autographed baseball into the neighbor's yard where"The Beast" resides. It's technically a kid's movie, but trust us, you'll still enjoy it from start to finish if you're a baseball fan. 

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Any Given Sunday (1999)

With an all-star cast including Al Pacino, Jamie Foxx, and Cameron Diaz, this classic shows the drama of a pro football franchise.

 

Fans love all the cameos, which include: Dick Butkus, Emmitt Smith, Terrell Owens and Barry Switzer.

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The Waterboy (1998)

If you're a football fan and in the mood for some silliness, this might be the film for you. Adam Sandler portrays a gratingly annoying water boy fired from his team who finds a bigger role on an opposing team. 

 

Obviously this movie was destined to fail with critics, but that doesn't mean it's not hilarious. If you're looking for some high-class lowbrow comedy, The Waterboy is for you. 

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Undefeated (2011)

If you’ve never watched Undefeated, that should change immediately! Unlike a lot of picks on this list, this isn't a fictionalized biopic--it's a true-to-life documentary. 

The movie follows the story of a Memphis high school football team who hasn't won a game in years but hopes to turn that all around in the next season. The emotional highs and lows are made all the more powerful by the fact that these are real people and not just actors in front of a camera. 

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Jerry Macguire (1996)

In this romance set upon a backdrop of football, Tom Cruise stars as sports agent, Jerry Macguire. When he begins a new agency, he struggles to keep everything together. 

The film was a hit, racking up five Oscar nominations and one win for Cuba Gooding Jr. in the role of Rod Tidwell. 

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