In an earlier post, I presented a list I compiled of 50 things that make me feel good. In a moment lacking inspiration, with over thirty minutes of my daily writing time still to fill, I needed something to go on—I found a middle school prompt that I initially thought would take mere minutes, but required the rest of my writing time for the day to complete. To expand on this writing project, I began an effort to discuss each of the 50 entries, and this post is a result of that project. Read the list at the original post, here.
When I first jotted down entry one, I simply inked “An Inspirational Movie.” In going back through to make my list more specific, I challenged myself to think about which types of inspirational movies I enjoyed most—inspirational sports movies, I decided. I’m certain you need not know one detail about sports of any kind to follow the success, hardship, and overcoming spirit of an inspirational sports movie.
Why is it that lists beget lists? Seriously, you know how the Bible is always going “And this dude begot this dude who begot this dude?” This is the nature of lists, too. My original list is about to beget a new list.
Here is the list of the inspirational sports movies that make me feel good, from the least warm and fuzzy to the most:
8. Coach Carter
If it isn’t enough that Coach Carter features actors/actresses such as Samuel L. Jackson, Antwon Tanner, Channing Tatum, and Octavia Spencer, it tackles many people’s biggest beef with high school sports stars—academics get overlooked in order to take advantage of an individual’s athletic ability. It isn’t the first sports movie to tackle this subject and it’s far from the last, but it does something to me inside that gets the warm and fuzzy meter ticking steadily upward.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.”
7. 1000 to 1
Everyone loves an inspirational sports movie based on a true story. David Henrie portrays a kid who challenged himself to be great in the face of never living up to his old greatness. When much of what we know is lost, it can be hard to move forward when we know it cannot be regained. This is exactly what gets my warm and fuzzy meter going with this movie—the incredible reaction of a kid who could have lost himself to anger and self-pity, but instead challenged himself again.
“What I do know is how you react to something is just as important as what happens to you.”
6. Lords of Dogtown
Two words: Heath Ledger. Some consider the late Ledger overrated, but I dig his stuff. Most of it, for that matter. Also, this sports movie tackles one of the lesser considered sports—skateboarding. My dad tried to teach me to skateboard when I was growing up and it just didn’t take, so maybe there is an emotional nostalgia connected with my warm and fuzzy meter on this particular movie. Plus, it follows the relationship of four boys over an extended period of time, which makes it more complex and intriguing than your average sports flick.
“Yeah, this is Skip Engblom and the Zephyr Skateboard Team. Here’s our entry fees. Now where’s our trophies?”
5. Glory Road
The character of Don Haskins not only starts five African American players for the first time in NCAA basketball history, but he calls one of those players’ Mom when his grades drop. Now, what else can you ask for in an inspirational sports movie? There is a moment in the movie that still makes me giggle to this day, after Mom has been called in and the basketball player is sitting in class. When the teacher asks the class who has the answer, the basketball player’s Mom pops out from the seat behind him, raising her hand, and says, “My son, Harry, can.” Priceless. Haskins represents a man who was willing to do the brave thing, the right thing, before anyone else was willing to.
“Get past you… I will go past you, through you, over you, under you, around you. As a matter of fact I will spin you like a top, twist you in a pretzel, eat your lunch, steal your girl and kick your dog at the same time… pshh, get past you.”
4. The Mighty Ducks
This is the first inspirational sports movie I ever watched. Tack on to this fact that it was released in my best of years, also known as the 90s. I am a 90s kid through and through, so when I started thinking about the inspirational sports movies that make me feel good, this old-school VHS Disney original made the cut. It made an impact on my very first warm and fuzzy meter. I’m pretty sure it’s the closest to a legit hockey film that I’ve gotten also, unless you count the scenes with the hockey sticks from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Which should count, by the way.
“A team isn’t a bunch of kids out to win. A team is something you belong to, something you feel, something you have to earn.”
3. The Blind Side
This movie is one of those movies that you just know exactly what is going to happen all the way through, but it touches your heart just the same. Sandra Bullock has given a lot of stellar performances over the years, and she shines in much the same way in this inspirational sports movie. On the warm and fuzzy meter, her willingness to share all her wealth and privilege with a boy most upper-classes families would be afraid to touch drags me right into an emotional web. It sends a message I wish we’d carry into the real world more often, one that encourages us to help those less fortunate instead of hoarding everything we’ve earned for ourselves. Did I mention it is based on a true story? You know how that gets me every time.
“That’s why courage, it’s tricky. Should you always do what others tell you to do? Sometimes you might not even know why you’re doing something. I mean, any fool can have courage. But honor, that’s the real reason for you either do something or you don’t. It’s who you are and maybe who you want to be…I think that’s what the writer was saying, that you should hope for courage and try for honor. And maybe even pray that the people telling you what to do have some, too.”
2. Remember the Titans
The warm and fuzzy meter in relation to this movie is closely connected to the “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” locker room scene. The combination of Ryan Gosling’s shoulder dance, Ethan Suplee’s white boy singing voice, and Earl Poitier’s makeshift microphone is too much to bear. I mentioned before that I love inspirational sports movies that go beyond sporting obstacles, such as football games. This goes past that and into real relationships in a time when the world was changing. As boys become men in the process of embracing inter-racial friendships, I get the sense I am learning something new about my own self each time I watch the movie. The movie pushes these boys so hard that it makes me want to push myself in life. The coach talks about perfection a lot, and with the warm and fuzzy meter going off the charts, I find myself wanting to chase perfection too. Plus, there’s Sunshine. We all love Sunshine.
“We will be perfect in every aspect of the game. You drop a pass, you run a mile. You miss a blocking assignment, you run a mile. You fumble the football, and I will break my foot off in your John Brown hind parts and then you will run a mile. Perfection. Let’s go to work.”
1. We Are Marshall
I believe I’ve watched this movie over a dozen times. Also based on a true story, this inspirational sports movie tells not only the story of a football team rebuilding itself, but the larger story of a town rocked by a disaster working through near-unquenchable grief. The movie gives viewers a football team’s worth of angles to handle the subject of grief. Matthew McConaughey and Matthew Fox deliver one of their best performances to date. The movie also inspires the college-age idealism that lives in all of us—whether we’ve never been to college, are currently in college or have graduated from college—and waits to erupt when we need it most. As hundreds of students come together to declare “Marshall” law, the mercury in the warm and fuzzy meter explodes right through the top.
“This is your opportunity to rise from the ashes. The funeral ends today.”