Top 25 Sports Movies Of All Time (& 50 More)

I’ve always been disappointed in other people’s lists of great sports movies. After thumbing through the movie database in my brain for a recent post, I decided I’d compile my own list. To begin, I decided on the criteria. I tried to be objective and strip the films of personal nostalgia and cultural hype. I don’t think average movies should be included on the list just so some of the more obscure sports can get a mention. My list is all about quality entertainment, not equal opportunity.

The films have to revolve around a single sport and must include a decent amount of playing time in order for me to consider it a true “Sports Movie.” For example, Tin Cup is obviously a sports movie because of the plot and playing time. The Sandlot qualifies as well, but barely. In contrast, Resurrecting the Champ revolves around boxing but isn’t a sports movie in my opinion. Neither is The Black Stallion, even though it concludes with a horse race. Anyway, here’s the list:

Top 25 Sports Movies of All Time:

  1. Hoosiers
  2. The Natural
  3. Rudy
  4. Rocky II
  5. Miracle
  6. 61*
  7. For Love of the Game
  8. Seabiscuit
  9. The Greatest Game Ever Played
  10. Field of Dreams
  11. Mystery, Alaska
  12. Wind
  13. Cinderella Man
  14. Eight Men Out
  15. Rocky
  16. Any Given Sunday
  17. The World’s Fastest Indian
  18. The Hustler
  19. The Endless Summer
  20. Caddyshack
  21. Major League
  22. Tin Cup
  23. Invincible
  24. Remember the Titans
  25. Bad News Bears

Honorable Mentions (Or, 25 more, with special attention to obscure sports):

  1. Victory
  2. Any Given Sunday
  3. Breaking Away
  4. Wimbledon
  5. Days of Thunder
  6. American Flyers
  7. Aspen Extreme
  8. The Program
  9. The Best of Times
  10. The Flying Scotsman
  11. K2
  12. The Rookie
  13. Blue Chips
  14. The River Wild
  15. Brian’s Song
  16. Goal: The Dream Begins
  17. The Longest Yard
  18. Rocky IV
  19. Brewster’s Millions
  20. Rocky III
  21. Soul of the Game
  22. 8 Seconds
  23. The Pistol
  24. Side Out
  25. Downhill Racer

Movies That Have a Place In Our Hearts (Or, a little nostalgia never hurt anyone):

  1. Rad
  2. Longshot
  3. Rocky Balboa
  4. Winners Take All
  5. By The Sword
  6. The Scout
  7. Bull Durham
  8. Kingpin
  9. Happy Gilmore
  10. Let it Ride
  11. Paper Lion
  12. The Legend of Bagger Vance
  13. Heaven Can Wait
  14. North Dallas Forty
  15. Slap Shot
  16. American Anthem
  17. Hot Dog: The Movie
  18. Ice Castles
  19. The Pride of the Yankees
  20. Cool Runnings
  21. Diggstown
  22. Talladega Nights
  23. Rebound
  24. The Last American Hero
  25. Caddyshack II

That’s my list. I guess the most important selection/ranking criteria for me was… If I’m watching TV on a rainy Sunday afternoon at 3:37 pm and a game is coming on at 4:15 pm, I’m probably flipping through the channels looking or something to watch until the game comes on. If I stumble upon a movie in the first tier, the odds are close to 100% that I’ll put down the remote and probably forget to change it back in time for the start of the game. The movies are that good. The same situation plays out for the remaining films, but the odds go down for each tier. Does that make sense?

I should add that I omitted several titles on purpose. People always say that they love movies like Chariots of Fire and Raging Bull. That’s probably the cinematic equivalent of Nielsen testers lying about watching NOVA on PBS instead of American Idol on FOX. This is what comes to mind when I think of Raging Bull. Movies like that simply aren’t very entertaining. As a result, they’re not on my list.

Still, don’t assume that because a movie you like isn’t listed here, it means I didn’t consider it (although it might). This isn’t a database of all sports-related films. There are also plenty of Almost Sports Movies, like The Champ, The Eiger Sanction and The Hurricane, but I just didn’t think they qualified.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my criteria and my selections.

Top 25 Sports Movies Of All Time (& 50 More)
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5 thoughts on “Top 25 Sports Movies Of All Time (& 50 More)

  • March 11, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Chad, where’s 3? where’s Cannonball Run? Smokey & the Bandit? (could have made the bottom list) Stroker Ace?

    Seems you’re missing some classics, bud.

  • March 11, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Why did I know you’d bring up racing movies? I actually own The Cannonball Run, and it’s probably list-worthy. (Random Note: There’s a guy in an Auburn shirt at the beginning of the race.)

    I never finished 3. It was digital valium. If it put me to sleep, it doesn’t belong on the list.

    I don’t think Smokey and the Bandit qualifies as a sports movie, even though Sally Field is a stone-cold fox in that film. It’s not about racing. In a way it’s similar to The Last American Hero, but I only included that film on the list because the bootlegging/racing it features is what that led to the establishment of NASCAR.

    Stroker Ace? Are you kidding? Let’s add Six Pack to the list while we’re at it!

  • March 11, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Dude… You are missing a top 10 obvious pick. PREFONTAINE!

  • March 12, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Greg, I knew you’d say that. Next, one of my basketball friends will say I left Hoop Dreams, Glory Road and Coach Carter off the list.

    I actually had Prefontaine on here, but it go knocked off when I added other titles. Prefontaine is a lot like Cobb and The Babe. They’re all very well made biopics, and they’re worth watching… once. There’s a reason you don’t see those movies on TBS, USA and TNT on Sunday afternoons.

    On a random side note, whenever I think of Prefontaine, I also think of Personal Best. They just get grouped together in my mind for no apparent reason, kind of like Don Mattingly and Wade Boggs.

  • March 12, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Funny! Another good movie to watch (running wise) is Spirit of the Marathon. It is more documentary and if you aren’t a marathon running it might seem stale. I like it. You are right about Pre’ though..but I could watch it twice perhaps.


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