The Greatest Sports Films of All Time

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In the spirit of Roses 2018, we asked Scan writers to tell us about their favourite sports films of all time…


The Karate Kid (1984)                        Stan Buckley, Sports Editor

I was 10 when I first saw ‘The Karate Kid’. My Dad had prefaced the film by assuring me of two things: ‘Mr Miyagi is the coolest character ever’ and ‘the ending is absolutely unbeatable’. To this day I haven’t been able to disprove either statement. The classic tale of ‘sweet good guy beats vicious bad guy’ was perfected here; and when the final scene begins you struggle to place another time you’ve been so behind a character to overcome the odds. The ending is perfect and no more needs to be said. Sporting triumph is about under-dogs: but ‘The Karate Kid’ is the genres undefeated champion.


Stick It (2006)                         Becky Scott, Online Editor

‘Stick It’ is ultimately the best sporting film of all time. The kick-ass girl power protagonist, Haley, is unparalleled in levels of inspiration, at least to 12 year old me. Haley breaks the law, drives her BMX into someones house and gets the ultimate punishment: a stint in a gymnastics academy. Wouldn’t that be nice? Filled with friendship, challenges and lots of backflips, this film is uplifting and motivational – even if the only rolls in your life are sausage ones.


Cool Runnings (1993)             Zoe Crombie 

Although I could make a thoughtful and analytical case for Cool Runnings being a fantastic, charming, and uplifting film, I really shouldn’t need to: everyone on Earth has seen it. And honestly, if you didn’t enjoy even a just a second of it, you should probably be medically examined. Truly the ultimate underdog story, the semi-true tale of the Jamaican bobsled team is wonderfully corny, and despite it’s light-hearted tone also explores themes of parental acceptance and racism in sports in a similar way to Bend it Like Beckham. If you want a sunny, hilarious movie to raise your spirits this Roses, you needn’t look any further.


The Wrestler (2009)               Pascal Maguet

I’ve never been very enthusiastic about sports so it makes sense my favourite sports film of all time is more of a character study than a traditional sports film. The film follows the washed-out professional wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson, played superbly by Mickey Rourke, as he tries to piece his life back together after he retires from the ring, having sacrificed his family, love life and health for the sport. Not only are the performances amazing but this film rejects the tropes of most sports films; for example, the antagonist isn’t another wrestler or a greedy promoter but Randy himself. This is likely the least ‘feel-good’ film on this list but definitely worth a watch. 


Center Stage (2000)               Alex Brock Carolynne Editor

 Like most (former) dancers, I’ve seen a lot of dance movies. Every ‘Step Up’ film, ‘Save the Last Dance’, and what I really think is the classic, Center Stage. Set in the ‘American Ballet Company’ (a play on the real American Ballet Theatre) Center Stage is a coming of age story, filled with all the cliches you could expect. It might not be the most creative storyline, but its well told, and at the center of the story, the dancing is good enough to hold it together. A cast of mostly actual dancers, Center Stage relies on unique choreography and an almost musical-like structure. While not everyone considers it a ‘sport’ movie (I’m not sure I do) it highlights the physicality of dance and brings back wonderful 2000’s vibes.


Fast Girls (2011)                     Ciara Cessford

Fast Girls is a brilliant film not only because it is of the criminally few female fronted sports movies, nor that it has nearly the half the cast of Sherlock, Doctor Who and Merlin, and not even because it has an amazing late noughties soundtrack, but simply because it is just so wholesome. Lead actress Lenora Crinchlow does a phenomenal job of portraying Shania as both strong and vulnerable. Class and racial issues are present but not laboured on, instead focussing on the budding friendships between Crinchlow and Lily James, and the Olympic spirit of inclusivity and teamwork.


Moneyball                               Matthew Potts

What even is a Moneyball? Like I know what money is and what a ball is and I’m a pretty big fan of both of them, so I was pretty sure I’d be a big fan of a Moneyball. Boy was I right. The perfect blend of sports, statistical analysis and Jonah Hill as some sort of economist who made me realise my dream job exists. You just watch it going “Go on Moneyball baseball team, do that Moneyball to win the baseball. Go on General Manager Brad Pitt, use economics and Jonah Hill to win baseball


 Goal 3!                                                Chris Bickley

If Goal! 3 were a free-kick, the young and loveable scamp Santiago Muñez would curl it right in the top corner. Those people who said that there shouldn’t be a third instalment of the thrilling Goal! series, probably also said the same about Goal! 2, and Goal!. What’s not to love about this? It has goals (three of them, to be precise), it has Freddie Ljungberg, it has a Sven-Göran Eriksson body double for goodness’ sake. How many other films can lay down that claim?! This film certainly isn’t ‘offside’, it’s categorically ‘onside’ ref!

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