Campus Life, Lifestyle, Movies & TV

You don’t have to like sports to love sports movies

I’m not really a sports person. I definitely don’t like playing them, I’m okay at watching them, but I’ve never really “gotten” sports. It just doesn’t grab my attention.

What I do love are movies and TV shows about sports. Well, not all of them. I have to admit I’ve never seen the classic “Field of Dreams” and I honestly don’t plan to. Still, I’ve realized you don’t have to enjoy, understand or even really care about a sport to love a movie or TV show about athletics.

Take “Goon,” for example. The Canadian film is about a kind but dumb bouncer who becomes the enforcer on a struggling Canadian hockey team. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much.

But I absolutely loved it.

“Goon” is funny, sweet and exciting. I still don’t know anything about hockey, but it made me care about the sport for those 92 minutes because I loved the characters so much.

That’s the thing about good sports movies: they’re not really about the sport. Sure, it’s fun to watch the players push the ball around or whatever, but what you really care about are the qualities behind those players. “Friday Night Lights” is another TV series I didn’t expect to like — especially because of all the sports, football might be the one I care about the least.

Sports film selections on Netflix
A selection of sports films. Even audiences who aren’t enthusiastic about athletics can be moved by themes of family, dedication, triumph common in sports films. ILLUSTRATION BY BAILEY SHEN/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

But when I watched “Friday Night Lights,” I found out that it’s much less about high school football and more about the coach, his family and the players.

Another great benefit of movies and TV shows about sports is they only show the most interesting parts of the game. If every football game in real life was as dramatic and exciting as the ones in “Friday Night Lights,” I might actually watch them.

Movies and TV shows about athletics are stories of triumph achieved through the strength of friendship. In the new show “Ted Lasso” — which inspired me to write this article — football coach Ted’s goal isn’t to win, it’s to change his players’ lives for the better. And it just so happens that as they become better people, they start to play better. Isn’t that beautiful?

If you still can’t get enough, I’ll shout out a few more athletics movies: “Bend it like Beckham” was my first sports movie — my first favorite, too. There aren’t many female-centric sports movies and this was a great one. A story of friendship, love and family, it’s a great feel-good watch and even made me want to be a soccer fan too.

I watched “Creed” and “Rocky” on a plane, and both made me cry. Sylvester Stallone, who plays the main boxer Rocky Balboa, is amazing in both movies.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention “Space Jam” — an essential cultural relic starring the Looney Tunes and Michael Jordan that will be worshipped for centuries.

I’m not sure if “Hot Rod” counts as an athletics movie because it’s about a stuntman, but it has the determination, heart and triumph of any classic athletics movie. I would even call “Cars” a sports movie. While the film’s talking cars may be hard for some people to get past, I’ve seen it 10 thousand times on my portable DVD player. If you couldn’t tell, I love it.

In summary, everyone should watch more sports films and shows. Put your preconceived ideas about athletics aside and just jump in. As they say in “Friday Night Lights:” “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

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