Reason Writers Around Town


The Cinematheque asks a bunch of writers to pick their favorite sports movies. The participants include Reason's own Jesse Walker and Reason contributor Timothy "Wirkman" Virkkala. You can decide for yourself which one offers the more eccentric list.

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  1. Wrestling with Shadows is the definitive wresting documentary.

  2. There are no sports movies, only movies about people involved in sports.

    But Hoop Dreams really is about who gets to play basketball. So that makes it not just the best sports movie, it’s the only sports movie.

  3. Of the two, Jesse’s list is far superior. Slapshot is a classic.

    But your failure to include Shaolin Soccer is a serious problem.

  4. Oh, and the girls I used to coach would given you many kicks to the shins for not including what they considered to be the ultimates sports film – Bend It Like Beckham

    I liked it as well, even though I find Keira Knightley to be kind of annoying. I think I got some of the jokes that they didn’t though.

  5. mk: As far as I can remember, the only soccer movie I’ve ever seen is Victory, starring Sylvester Stallone and Pel?. It doesn’t belong anywhere near any top-five list (except, perhaps, the top five films starring Sylvester Stallone and Pel?).

    I just Googled Shaolin Soccer, and I see it stars Stephen Chow. That’s a good sign … maybe I’ll check it out.

  6. Bend It Like Beckham is much more a movie about Indian families living in the west than it is about soccer, although there is soccer throughout.
    Also, I think Parminder Nagra is cute (but not cute enough to suffer through an episode of ER).
    Shaolin Soccer is, in my opinion, even better than Kung Fu Hustle but many people would disagree.

  7. Rocky II

    The Natural

    Big Wednesday

    Friday Night Lights

    Dogtown and Z-Boys

    honorable mention: Drumline, The Color of Money, The Longest Yard

  8. Any list which does not include North Dallas Forty is completely unworthy of consideration, and reveals its creator(s) as completely clueless.

  9. If Strange Brew is a hockey movie, and hockey is still a sport, then it’s the best sports movie ever. If it’s not, then The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh is the best.

  10. debbie does dallas?

    the edna list:

    1. it happens every spring
    2. knute rockne- all american
    3. horsefeathers
    4. three little pigskins (short)
    5. pat and mike

  11. OK, M*A*S*H was a brilliant stroke, and spot on. And it truly picks up a theme in sports that is neglected in most sports movies. Sports movies are about underdogs coming back through good sportsmanship and hard work to overcome insurmountable odds. The good guys play fair and are motivated by a desire for excellence, or a chance to redeem themselves, or to save an orphanage, or whatever.

    The 4077 team is motivated by a desire to take down hubris and general cussedness. “You want a football game? We’ll show you a fucking football game.” The only other movie that I can think of that comes close are the hockey scenes from Strange Brew.

  12. Edna: I am so ashamed that I didn’t think to include Horsefeathers.

  13. Rocky doesn’t seem to get much credit from the critics. I wonder if Rocky is one of those movies that is important to you if you were the right age when it came out. Like Breakfast Club is considered great by most everyone who happened to be in high school when it came out, but considered overrated by most everyone else. I think Star Wars probably fits in that category of being important to people of a certain age. My generation is a video generation and we probably overrate our movies, kind of like a different generation overrates the freaking beatles.

  14. Does Rounders make the cut as a “sports” movie?

  15. next time, jw.

    i admit that “it happens every spring” is more of a stoner flick, but that’s why we look for eclecticism.

    “three little pigskins” makes it, not because it’s great stooges (it isn’t), but because the stooges must go on any “top xx” list.

    i’m actually surprised that no-one picked “hoosiers.”

  16. Holy Crap. I was the second person to mention Strange Brew as a hockey movie. I feel so proud to be a part of the Hit&Run community right now.

    Seriously guys, I’m tearing up. I love you guys!

  17. Personal Best
    Teen Wolf
    Johnny Be Good
    Ice Castles

  18. Jesse doesn’t like Caddyshack? ;(

    I agree – Strange Brew and Breaking Away are glaring omissions.

    What about Beat Street?

  19. There are no great golf movies (sorry, Caddyshack fans)

    You forget Jesse, M*A*S*H is also a golf movie.

    I’m not so sure the goddam thing’s in his heart.

    ‘Course it isn’t, but how many chances do we get to go to Japan? With our golf clubs.

  20. de stijl,

    You are scaring me.

  21. Caddyshack is the greatest sports movie of all time. I know that, because, once, when I was caddying for the Dalai Lama, he told me that I’d receive total consciousness on my death bed. So I have that going for me.

  22. Shaolin Soccer was a hoot, but the 5 best are:

    Bad News Bears
    Slap Shot
    Breaking Away
    The Cutting Edge

  23. Warren: Good point. But the trip to Japan isn’t a great part of the movie. The football game is.

    Highnumber: Caddyshack never did much for me. There’s a bunch of funny people in it, especially Ted Knight and Bill Murray, but they feel like they’re all in different movies. It doesn’t help that I find golf itself pretty dull.

  24. In no particular order:

    Friday Night Lights
    Any Given Sunday
    Rocky IV (it’s the best bad movie ever)
    The Karate Kid
    Jaws (fishing?)

  25. Vision Quest – high school wrestling

  26. I have to admit that I found myself unwillingly entertained by Tin Cup, despite my lack of interest in either Costner or Russo at this point.

  27. Big Trouble in Little China–chopping a beer bottle in half with a knife. Nothing or double!

  28. Oh, and no list of sports movies can be complete without The Princess Bride. Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…

  29. I only saw Raging Bull once, shortly after it came out. It was the most boring movie I’ve ever seen that wasn’t made in France.

  30. After seeing everyone’s lists, I’ve just come to the realization that I don’t really like sports movies.

  31. Second five:

    Gleaming the Cube
    Ready to Rumble
    Point Break

  32. Shaolin Soccer is, in my opinion, even better than Kung Fu Hustle but many people would disagree.

    I liked KFH but Shaolin Soccer is in my top few movies of all time. I never, ever tire of watching it. And I hate sports and “sports movies”.

  33. Nick M. is absolutely correct – Vision Quest, muthafucka!

    One of the few movies that glorifies compulsive exercise and eating disorders. Not to say it doesn’t rock.

  34. I still wanna know how to “Gleam the Cube”.

    Also, add RAD the list of kick ass sports movies.

  35. Should be: Add RAD to the list of kickass sports movies.

  36. Best sports movie of all time?

    You Got Served

  37. I don’t think anyone’s mentioned “Bring it On”. It’s an awful sports movie. I just thought I’d mention it.

  38. Anybody that lists The Naked Gun as the best baseball movie ever made is alright in my book. I told that to my roommate one time and he gave me a look like I was nuts (he’s a huge baseball fan and has just about every baseball movie ever made on dvd). The Zuckers have Mel Brooks beat hands down in the corn-ball humor department.

  39. Warren,

    No movie with Eliza Dushku can be called “awful.” That’s blasphemy.

  40. Hoosiers (because very person raised in Indiana has to list Hoosier as #1 sports movie of all time)
    Lucas (Similar to Rudy, only better because it’s not about Notre Dame)
    Rad (just plain awesome)
    Vision Quest (every former high school wrestler used to watch this movie religiously)
    61* (just a plain good movie)

  41. 1. No Holds Barred
    2. No Holds Barred
    3. No Holds Barred
    4. No Holds Barred
    5. No Holds Barred

  42. de stijl-

    Point Break sucks. If you want a good surfing movie that is a little truer to the sport (and a good film anyway) you need to check out Big Wednesday.

    Apocolypse Now is another good surfing movie. Also the best Vietnam war movie, IMO.

  43. JLM,

    I never claimed I was listing “good” sports movies.

  44. “I never claimed I was listing “good” sports movies.”

    I see…..

  45. No movie with Eliza Dushku can be called “awful.”

    A) Eliza Dushku is just another Hollywood bimbo indistinguishable from the ten billion other Hollywood bimbos

    B) Bring it on is an awful sports movie because it depicts the sport it’s suppose to be glorifying as less athletic, less sophisticated, and generally less interesting, than actually watching competitive cheerleading.

  46. Slap Shot truly is the greatest sports comedy of all time and I can’t believe it was not on more people’s lists. It truly pushed the limits on showing how much we love violence.

    Kudos for including the Naked Gun, too.

  47. Big Lebowski – Best. Bowling. Movie. Ever.

  48. NickM: BREAKING AWAY, too.

    [knowing your university affiliation. ducks]

    but HOOSIERS is definitely the bestest sports movie EVAR!

  49. personal best. hah, i forgot that one. besides the pre-implant mariel hemingway, the movie was notable for record-setting numbers of close up shots of shoe-clad feet.

  50. Eliza Dushku is just another Hollywood bimbo indistinguishable from the ten billion other Hollywood bimbos

    Fie on you! Fie, I say!

    Dude, she was on Buffy. She was Faith, for fuck’s sake, and anchored the second best season on the best show of all time.

  51. Big Lebowski – Best. Bowling. Movie. Ever.

    You’ve got a point there. But Kingpin is a solid second.

  52. VM,

    There are no universities south of Indianapolis. “Breaking Away” is fiction.

  53. Caddyshack never did much for me.

    Jesse Walker

    The more I think about it the more confused I get. I understand all those words, but that sentence makes no sense.

  54. Dodge ball,

  55. To this day, I still putt making the vaguely Six Million Dollar Manish sounds that Chevy Chase uttered while putting in Caddyshack.

    And I never slice.

  56. ProGLib – that sound also augments the BATIN sensation…

    (glad nobody put “Days of Thunder”)

  57. Ah, no one thought to mention Highlander as the best fencing movie? Granted, my character, an Egyptian/Spaniard with a Scottish accent fared ill, but a Scotsman with a vaguely French/Swiss accent won it all!

  58. Best movie performance by a sports guy?

    Rowdy Roddy Piper in John Carpenter’s They Live.

  59. “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

  60. Top Gun

    Men’s Volleyball

  61. Nick M.,


    Zoolander–the Walk Off.

  62. I have no favorite sports movie, as watching a movie about sports is almost as big a waste of time as watching actual sports (baseball exempted) but my favorite cooking movie is Eating Raoul.

  63. Couple of remaining glaring omissions.

    Death Race 2000
    Cannonball Run

  64. Meatballs, for several sports especially “cup stacking”

  65. Better Off Dead; downhill skiing

    “This is pure snow! Do you have any idea what the street value of this mountain is?”

    “Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn.”

  66. Top Secret – Skeet Surfing


    “What’s a little boy like you doing with big boy smut like this?”

  67. Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Something About Mary – BATIN.

    (and retardoball in SAM)

  68. VM,
    How does batin qualify as a sport?

  69. No mention of Bang the Drum Slowly???

  70. How does batin qualify as a sport?

    The loser (or is it the winner?) has to eat the soggy cracker.

  71. nuther glaring O; Pumping Iron

  72. Jesse,
    “Return of the Pink Panther” is the greatest martial arts movie ever made.


  73. [Cato has just attacked Clouseau, causing extensive damage to the restaurant he’s eating in.]
    Clouseau: You raving Oriental idiot! There is a time and a place for everything, Cato! And this is it!
    [Clouseau goes to attack Cato, but misses and destroys the restaurant’s kitchen.]

  74. I would have to put in On any Sunday, a documentary by Bruce Brown (director of Endless Summer) on motorcycle racing, amateur and professional, and hobby motorcycling in general. It’s truly one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen, and certainly opened my eyes to a wonderful subculture. The cinematography is alternately stunning and calming, the stories and characters are empathetic, and overall should be considered a masterpiece of the documentary genre.

  75. “Return of the Pink Panther” is the greatest martial arts movie ever made.

    I never can remember which Pink Panther movie is which. But I like the way you think.

  76. Warren –

    “glaring O” – you’d get style points for BATIN there.

    But I’d be happy to enroll you in URKOBOLD’s SPORT BATIN Academy and Music Emporium, so you, too, can achieve your eggshell belt in BATIN!

    And in Meatballs: x-country running and sport eating.

  77. My favorite — besides “Breaking Away” — is “Chariots of Fire.”

  78. Meatballs: x-country running and sport eating.

    Yes, and soccer, and tennis, and basketball, and potato race, and egg toss, and of course…poker (Children starving in India, and you’re walking around with a whole sombrero full of peanuts.)

  79. Soccer movies? I didn’t see it, but in 1981 there was a little movie called

  80. Stevo is right.

    Two go in, one comes out.
    Two go in, one comes out.
    Two go in, one comes out.
    Two go in, one comes out.
    Two go in, one comes out.
    Two go in, one comes out.

  81. ProGlib,

    Just remember:

    One of life’s simple joys….is playing’ with the boys!!

  82. Sorry, Nick, but I’m locked into the women and their hypnotic ways.

  83. All this talk and no mention of “A League of Their Own”?

    For shame!

  84. What about Thelma & Louise?

    Sport: Man-hating


    Sport: Twaddleknockery

    Team America

    Sport: America-saving

    Kill Bill

    Sport: Killing

  85. “Go that way, really fast. If something gets in your way, turn.”

    My tendency to give this advice in things like volleyball and fencing may be the reason I should never ever be a coach of anyone doing anything.

  86. all of it is nice,i am enjoy reading it.

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