Why I Love Sports Movies

(Philadelphia, Pa) — I know this is a football related blog, but during the downtime around the NFL I like to write about other things.  In that vain I am writing about “Why” I love spors movies.

Sports movies have been one of the most utilized vehicles in telling stories on screen probably since the motion picture camera was invented.  Some of first film footage that people flocked to theaters to see were sports documentaries on boxing legend and heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan in the late 1880’s.  In the tradition of those ever-popular silent boxing documentaries, sports movies continue today to be a special part of films. Just try and go down to your local video store without stumbling upon any genre of film from comedy to thriller that doesn’t have sports somewhere in the flick.  Whether it is the main plot or something as simple as a game being shown on the television in the background of a scene.

But the main question is “Why are sports movies such a popular film medium throughout cinematography history?”  I believe the main reason that sports movies are so popular is that these movies more than any others throttle the “Wow” meter (the little inner voice that makes someone like, dislike, or love a particular film) in viewers.  People naturally gravitate to sports to see unbridled drama as it unfolds — You know the old saying people will watch anything compete even if it is two frogs trying to out jump the other – and sports movies are the closest thing to reality.  The viewer is right in the middle the ring with Muhammad Ali or up the plate with Babe Ruth circa their special place in history.

Another major reason I believe behind society’s affixation with sports movies is that at one time in almost everyone’s lives they were an “athlete” in their own way.  Whether it was running in the schoolyard at recess, playing organized sports (Little League/CYO/Pop Warner/Babe Ruth), street games – BTW: where have these games of our youth gone –, weekend warrior (pick-up basketball/touch football/softball), high school, college, or for the precious few professional sports.  The vehicle of sports makes it very easy for moviegoers to bridge the gap between fantasy and reality by picturing themselves in the storylines and characters of sports films.  Training until you can’t stand-up any longer, rooting for the home team, family ties (hey Dad let’s have a catch), making the game winning shot, the coach that doles out the “tough love” while never giving up on his pupil, winning the “big” one, team camaraderie, confronting fear, laughter in and out of the arena/field, overcoming the unthinkable foe, or just plan playing for nothing other than enjoyment.

Some say the sports movie is cliché and over used.  But to me as someone that has played sports my entire life including in high school and college plus having personally watched over 200 sports related movies — worked at an old Sameric Movie theater for many years wearing an ugly green jacket while spending most the time watching films instead of ushering/selling tickets or candy/other duties.  I can honestly say that even though sometimes the hokey “good guy wins” ending is inevitable, there is no bastion that brings the competition, commitment, blood, sweat, tears, triumphs, and failures of sports to life, of course other than the “real” thing, than sports cinema.


Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


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