Throughout the last 50 years Hollywood’s directors have been displaying the thrill of the competitive nature of sports on the big screen. Not only do sports movies influence youngsters athletically and take seasoned vets down Memory Lane, but they propel a sense of pride and glory with every back-shivering inspirational ending of success. I have given much thought into this, and I leave you with my top 10 sports movies of all-time.

1.   Hoosiers

This 1986 classic starring Gene Hackman as an old school style coach, expresses passion and excellence in sports through hard work, dedication and unselfishness. Coach Norman Dale (Hackman) takes over the Hickory High School Hoosiers varsity basketball team after being out of the game for awhile, and helps them make the leap from a no-name squad in a state that worships the sport of basketball to Indiana State Champions at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. This inspirational film speaks volumes about respect towards others and really demonstrates the parallels of teamwork and the importance of the sport of basketball in the state of Indiana.

2.   Caddyshack

With the tagline “at last, a comedy that bites,” Caddyshack marks one of the most timeless comical views on the sport of golf in its great history. Coming out in 1980 and featuring the star-studded cast of Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray and Cindy Morgan, Caddyshack brings you into everyday life at the upscale Bushwood Country Club where the staff seems to be a little rougher around the edges than the club’s high-class members. The movie is based around a high school student named Danny Noonan who also serves as a caddy for the club and is a very talented golfer, showcasing his skills later in the movie as he competes in a playoff with the laid-back Zen-minded Ty Webb played by Chase against the uptight Judge Smails, who is one of Bushwood’s elites. The real comedy comes in when Carl Spackler, the assistant greenskeeper at Bushwood played by Murray is introduced with his trials of getting rid of the course’ rodent problem. In the words of Spackler, “… IT’S IN THE HOLE!”

3.   Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams captures the feeling of old-time baseball through the fictional story of an Iowa Farmer named Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, who hears a voice in the corn field behind his farmhouse that says, “if you build it, they will come.” He feels this voice is telling him to build a baseball field in which will attract the likes of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the Chicago White Sox players who were involved in the throwing of a game in the 1919 World Series. Kinsella travels to Boston to consult with famous fictional writer Terrence Mann (played by James Earl Jones) to find out exactly what the message actually means. A film that was based on the book “Shoeless Joe Jackson” by W.P. Kinsella (which was the influence for Ray’s name) provides a feel-good, legendary view of America’s favorite pastime that every sports fan is a sucker for. A real tear jerker.

4.   Rudy

One of the most critically acclaimed inspirational sports films of all-time, Rudy delivers a powerful message of how far determination and perseverance can get you. Rudy Ruettiger ignores all the critics and naysayers that say he is too small to play college football, let alone college football at Notre Dame, and carry on through the rough times to bring his grade point average sufficient enough to be accepted, gets into a game, and makes a memorable tackle in his senior year. This film is the ultimate motivational movie and, because it is a true story, it creates inspiration for all those young players today who are told they won’t make it in college sports.

5.   Bull Durham

Panning out to be another Costner classic, Bull Durham brings us into life on the road in Minor League Baseball and the comedy and love affairs that come with such a profession. Costner plays veteran Minor League catcher Crash Davis, a man who is chased around by Durham Bulls groupie Annie Savoy, played by Susan Sarandon. Savoy also pursues the up-and-coming sure-thing pitcher ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh (played by Tim Robbins) who completes the love triangle between the three through a season that sees Crash become the Minor League’s all-time home run leader. This flick is the ultimate baseball love story with touches of comical flair throughout.

6.   The Natural

The story of mythical slugger Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) will forever be worshipped as the essence of baseball lore. Hobbs’ bat, carved out of a tree that was struck by lightning, helps him transform his struggling 1930s New York Knights baseball team to the league’s elite, and smashes a legendary home run that erupts the lights high above right field. The Natural is a classic portrayal of the culture of baseball in the 1930s and shows how stories like this of America’s pastime, fictional or not, are as important as anything else in our sports history.

7.   Remember the Titans

To me, Remember the Titans is one of the greatest displays of coming together in the world of sports and cinema. Denzel Washington plays T.C. Williams High School head football coach Herman Boone tremendously along with partner, head coach Bill Yoast played by Will Patton. When the two high schools in Alexandria, Va. integrate, people in the town start butting heads, including the players and coaches. Somehow, they work together and eventually win a state championship, giving the town and the school an uplifting feeling and a new look at racial discrimination.

8.   Tin Cup

Costner kills it again. In this classic he plays a washed-up drunk named Roy ‘Tin cup’ McAvoy who runs a driving range in rural West Texas. McAvoy meets the girlfriend of a former college rival during a golf lesson and makes it his business to qualify for the U.S. Open to steal her away from his cocky former teammate. With a cast that also features Cheech Marin and Rene Russo, Tin Cup fails to disappoint with its dry comedy and old-time charm.

9.   Finding Forester

Sean Connery and Rob Brown star as William Forrester, the fictional anti-social author, and Jamal Wallace, a young talented basketball player and writing prodigy. Wallace seeks guidance and friendship from Forrester after being caught breaking into the author’s apartment, as he struggles to find his place and writing style in an upscale New York City private high school. Forrester not only guides Wallace in his writing but in struggles with relationships in school, basketball and in life in general. Themes of respect and trust are rich in this timeless film.

10. The Sandlot

“You’re killing me smalls.” This quote captures the great 1960s based film about nine kids and the adventures they had while playing baseball in the summer on a beat up diamond in their neighborhood. With names like the Hambino, Benny the Jet, Yeah-Yeah, and Squints, the Sandlot is a hilarious portrayal of what millions of young kids go through during the summers of their youth. The energetic nine face their biggest fear when the main character, Scotty Smalls, hits his stepdad’s autographed baseball over a fence into the wrath of a dog they call the beast. In my opinion, The Sandlot is an instant classic.

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