What happened to sports movies? Why does there seem to be a huge drop off in the quality of sports films from the 1990s to mid-2000s to today?
When I was growing up, I loved anything and everything about sports. Sports was my second life. Whether it was balancing multiple sports at once, attending my brother’s sporting events or watching sports at home, I loved sports. Sports movies played a role in my beginning passion for sports. Spending my Friday nights and weekends watching sports movies was always a ritual in my household.
A lot of the movies featured strong storylines about teamwork and playing for each other — not yourself. Also, lessons about working with others and how to handle a win versus a loss. These are strong lessons for society and anyone who watched a sports movie could easily pick up and understand them.
Some of my favorite sports films to watch growing up were “Space Jam,” “Rocky,” “Rudy,” “The Little Giants,” “Cool Runnings,” “Seabiscuit,” “Air Bud,” “The Mighty Ducks,” “The Waterboy” and “The Longest Yard.” This short list isn’t even half of the movies that I enjoyed watching as a kid.
Many of these movies usually featured the underdog story and involved a main character who was the underdog or often looked over. He or she usually had to overcome obstacles or tough competition to be successful. I think during this time period, the true underdog story kind of movie evolved and it was usually around a young kid or unpopular kid. These movies each included a deeper meaning or lesson that is beneficial to society.
Within the past few years, I can only name a couple of sports movies: “Creed,” Race, “Concussion,” “Hands of Stone,” “McFarland, USA” and “Southpaw.” Their stories don’t compare to the classics produced when I was kid.
The stories in these movies just don’t connect with me. They aren’t rooted around a group of young kids or kids just starting out their sports journey. I don’t see the deeper story.
I’m not sure the movies being produced today will ever get back to that tradition. And maybe those kind of storylines are outdated? Today, we focus so much on athletes attending the best high school sports programs so they can get recruited by successful college programs. Then onward to to be drafted and playing professionally. Going forward, many sports movies are going to be centered around either health issues like “Concussion” was or around professional athletes.
I miss the great sports movies that were available to me when I was in elementary and middle school. These movies inspired me and other kids interested in sports. They were guided my decision in what sport I wanted to play.
Hopefully, the next decade will see a resurgence of classic sports movies that range from every sport. I would still watch and fall in love again.