12 Classic Sports Movies That Deserve to Be Remembered by a New Generation

Updated on March 3, 2017
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Arthur is an avid television and movie fan with horror being his favored genre. If you can name it, he has probably seen it. Twice.

The sports film is the quintessential feel-good movie. They teach kids the value of working hard and treating others with respect. To my recollection, our newest generation has not gotten a real sports movie for them to grow up idolizing. Luckily for them, the genre has been around almost as long as film itself, and there is an extensive library from which to choose. I have pinned down 12 classic sports movies that should be required for anyone 15 and under to watch.

Bad News Bears

This was possibly Walter Matthau at his most curmudgeonly, and it was perfect. There are so many qualities to this movie that make it one of the greatest sports movies ever. For one, it tackled gender stereotypes way back in 1976 which was not a favorite thing to do at that time. They also set a standard for sports movies by *spoiler* not having the team win in the end. By doing this, they emphasized the importance of playing the fun of the game and not just the win. There was a remake released in 2005 but if it were up to me, I would stick with the original when introducing it to a new audience.

The Mighty Ducks

This movie might as well be called Bad News Bears on ice, and there is nothing wrong with that. I have a particular affinity for this film because the shooting took place in my home state, and I have visited many of the iconic sites in the picture. It follows a rag-tag group of peewee hockey players who are so bad and so underfunded that they don't even have a team name, they are only identified by their district number. When a lawyer and former player becomes a coach to satisfy a community service requirement everything starts to change. It may just be my nostalgia speaking, but the original Mighty Ducks is one of the all-time great feel good sports movies in my opinion.

Space Jam

This movie is just silly, but it is a classic sports movie just the same. It stars the Looney Toons who are so iconic that they have spanned generations and remain a household name today. On the human side of things, it stars the all-time great Michael Jordan along with a handful of other basketball players who were much more popular then than they are now. The movie is about an evil alien who abducts the Looney Toons and forces them to play a basketball game for their fate. If the Toons lose, they will become an attraction at a space amusement park. Their only hope is to enlist the help of Michael Jordan to win the game of their lives. With the sequel starring Lebron James happening, now is a better time than ever to introduce kids to the original.


Rudy is widely regarded as one of the greatest sports stories of all time, and for a good reason. It borrows from the true story of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger who dreamed of playing college football despite many shortcomings. What he lacked in physical size and athletic ability he made up for in sheer strength of heart. This film is a great reminder to kids that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.

The Sandlot

The Sandlot is one of the most perfect coming of age movies of all time, and it just happens to be set on the baseball field. The movie is almost 25 years old and holds up today. It is still in the pop culture lexicon with people quoting it daily whether they know they are or not. Not only did it teach us how to treat others, to face our fears, and what it is to be a team, but it also cemented Chuck Taylor high tops in the annuls of history. The Sandlot is the perfect movie choice for your next family night.

Cool Runnings

"Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme." That one line will take any '90s kid back to a simpler time. Cool Runnings is a loose adaptation of the original Jamaican Bobsled team that participated in the 1988 Winter Olympics. The movie itself is just fun and lighthearted with few conflicts and an ending that will leave the biggest biker in the room teary-eyed. Though it is a corny Disney movie, it teaches kids to believe in their goals and never stop trying no matter how high the odds are stacked against them.

Angels in the Outfield

This movie is fantastic for so many reasons but first and foremost for the sheer star power. It stars Danny Glover, Tony Danza, Christopher Lloyd, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Neal McDonough, Adrien Brody, Matthew McConaughey, and a few other familiar faces. Angels in the Outfield is such a heartfelt movie with a positive message of hope and believing in yourself. It was one of many feel-good sports movies that Disney produced in the early 90s.

Karate Kid

You don't have to have a ball for it to be a sport, ok. Karate Kid may be a questionable sports movie, but it is still an all-time great. I wouldn't call this a feel-good movie, but it does teach a lesson about treating others how you would like to be treated and ultimately turning the other cheek. Plus, that scene at the end is one of the best scenes in an action film ever.

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams is a movie unlike any other and one that should be required to watch. Much like Angels in the Outfield, it has a who's who of faces on screen. The film originated one of the most iconic lines in cinema history, "If you build it, they will come." There is little negative to be said about Field of Dreams, and it can be enjoyed by a broad audience. Kids may need to be a little bit older for this one simply because there are some complex ideas being breached.


I wanted to include one for the real little ones, and with Cars 3 coming soon I think this is a fitting entry. Cars is a Disney Pixar film about a cocky race car who learns a valuable lesson when he is sidelined in a dusty old town. Kids love themselves some Lightning McQueen, and I think this movie is right at that age where some kids may not have had the opportunity to see it yet.

Teen Wolf

Teen Wolf is definitely up to parental discretion, but I think it is an important sports movie. On the exterior, it is an obnoxious comedy about a lousy teen basketball player who happens to kick butt on the court when he turns into a werewolf. There are a lot of underlying themes in this movie including self-worth, how to treat others, and standing up for yourself. Of course, the movie has a happy ending, and everyone lives happily ever after as if there is not a werewolf in their midsts.

We Are Marshall

We Are Marshall is a movie that you have to set aside time to talk about with your kids when it ends. I added it to this list because it is such a remarkable story of perseverance in the face of unimaginable tragedy. The fact that this movie came from a true story makes it all the more important. I love a lot of sports movies, including ones I left off of this, but this is a contender for one of my favorites, and I am not ashamed to say that I tear up every time Matthew McConaughey brings the team out to the cemetery. This movie is definitively not for a younger audience, but 13+ should be able to grasp most of the concepts.

This list is subjective as most lists are, so there is plenty of room for conversation. What movie do you think I egregiously left off of the list? Which movie on this list do you think should be number one? Please let me know in the comments.

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