Sports Hub’s Top 10 Sports Movies of All Time

Joe Berra

The best sports movies ever is a topic that is hotly debated. Sports Hub continues the debate with our own Top 10 Sports Movies of All Time.

The Sports Hub crew discussed sports movies for several hours. There may have been a few drinks consumed. The result was a truly outstanding list of the best in the category.

There’s a little something for everybody, but we know that we won’t please everyone. If you feel we really missed something, hit the Contact Us button and let us know. You can also find us on social media and interact that way as well.

And now, coming in at No. 10…

The Tear-Jerker – Brian’s Song

Brian’s Song sports movies

Football is, of course, the favorite sport among Americans. Because of its popularity, there have been tons of TV shows and sports movies based around football. Brian’s Song is one of them.

Brian’s Song is unique among the movies on this list. It was not released in theaters. It was actually an ABC Movie of the Week released in 1971.

As with many of the sports movies in our Top 10, Brian’s Song is based on a true story. Gale Sayers was an All-American running back at the University of Kansas and was going to be a star with the Chicago Bears. 

In training camp as a rookie, he meets and becomes best friends with another running back, Brian Piccolo, played by legendary actor James Caan. The role of Sayers was played by Billy Dee Williams. When the movie was released in 1971, the idea of a black Sayers and a white Piccolo becoming like brothers was a big deal. It’s part of the draw of the film.

Piccolo eventually is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Sayers dedicates his “George Halas Most Courageous Player Award” to Piccolo. At the end of the movie, Piccolo passes away at the age of 26 with his wife by his side. It’s one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in sports movies.

Great Sports Movies – The Original Rocky

The Original Rocky logo

Among sports movies, the best ones are those that live on forever. The Rocky series, which has blossomed into a Creed series, may outlive a couple of generations.

In 1976, the original Rocky movie was named the Best Picture of the year. Robert “Rocky” Balboa is just a neighborhood guy on the tough streets of Philadelphia. He’s a journeyman boxer who also works as an enforcer for a local loan shark.

Apollo Creed is the world heavyweight champion and needs a boxer after his opponent had to pull out of a feature fight being held in Philadelphia during the U.S.’s Bicentennial celebration. 

Enter Balboa, the underdog. The guy does some unique fight preparation and, before you know it, knocks Creed down in the first round. 

He doesn’t win, but the ultimate split decision is a victory in itself. The movie’s soundtrack included “Gonna Fly Now,” which plays during Rocky’s training montage. The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 in July of 1977. 

Race to the Top – Ford v. Ferrari

Race to the Top - Ford v. Ferrari movie logo

Believe it or not, of all the sports movies ever made, one genre has brought in more earnings than any other. With all the football-related sports movies on this list, you would be inclined to think it has to be films about the sport.

That would be wrong.

Films about racing lead the pack, particularly because the Fast & Furious franchise is included in sports movies. 

Ford v. Ferrari is more of a true sports movie featuring the race between two of the leading automobile manufacturers of their day. 

Ford proposes to buy Ferrari, which has dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Enzo Ferrari, the company’s owner, counters by making a deal with Fiat that allows him to keep control of Ferrari’s racing team.

Ford enlists Carroll Shelby, played by Matt Damon, who hires British engineer and driver Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale. Ford tries for years to build a car that can rival Ferrari. They finally do.

Ford won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1967, 1968, and 1969. Miles ends up being inducted, posthumously, into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2001. The film has grossed over $225 million since being released in 2019.

Remember the Titans 

Remember the Titans movie logo

Nothing brings people together like sports. In early 1970s Virginia, desegregation was alive and not well. Remember the Titans captures that in one of several sports movies based on a  true story.

In 1971, T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, names the black Herman Boone the new head coach. He was to take over for the white Bill Yoast, a legend who has been nominated for the Virginia High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Boone works his magic and, with Yoast’s help, the team of black and white players – that includes a very young Ryan Gosling – comes together to advance to the state playoffs. All-star linebacker Gerry Bertier gets hurt in a car accident and can’t play in the state championship.

Still, the Titans forge a late fourth quarter comeback and win. The movie ends years later when Bertier is killed in another car accident after winning the shot put in the Paralympics. 

Remember the Titans had it all, including a killer soundtrack filled with tons of hits from the late 1960s and early ‘70s.

The Best of Comedy Sports Movies – Caddyshack

Caddyshack movie logo

In the original script from Caddyshack, released in 1980, Bill Murray had two lines. By the time the film was released in 1980, Murray was a huge part of the movie. Some of his ridiculous lines are among the most quoted movie phrases ever.

It was a star-studded cast with many of Saturday Night Live’s finest including Chevy Chase and Murray. The movie centers on a golf tournament for caddies at Bushwood Country Club. Murray, who plays assistant greenskeeper Carl Spackler, attempts to hunt down a potentially destructive gopher as one of the movie’s subplots.

Caddyshack grossed $60 million back in 1980. That’s roughly the equivalent of $222 million today. Those are Avatar, Titanic, and Avengers type numbers. Many in the sports world have called it the funniest of sports movies ever made. Sports Hub concurs.

The Picket Fence

The Picket Fence movie logo

When it comes to sports movies, nothing is better than the underdog story. Everyone loves underdogs, right?

In the 1950s in the state of Indiana, all high school basketball teams were entered into the state tournament. There were no classifications. A small school could end up playing a much larger school. This is exactly what happened in Hoosiers.

Gene Hackman starred as Norman Dale, the new head basketball coach at rural Hickory High School. The movie has its ups and downs and ends up just where we like it. Hickory takes on a much bigger South Bend Central for the state championship. 

After trailing most of the game, Hickory rallies and needs a last-second shot to win. During a timeout before the final play, the team’s best player, Jimmy Chitwood, in epic fashion simply says, “I’ll make it.” And he did.

Hoosiers was inspired by the true story of MIlan High School which won the 1954 Indiana state championship. Bobby Plump was the Milan player that hit the game-winning jump shot. Actor Maris Vilainis played Chitwood and hit the movie’s game-winning shot on the first take.

Sports Movies Don’t Get Much Better Than This

It’s one of the most misquoted lines in sports movies. In fact, it’s one of the most misquoted pieces in all movies.

“If you build it, he will come,” is the actual line in the movie Field of Dreams. Many have repeated it as “If you build it, they will come.” Regardless, the movie tugs on the heartstrings of anyone who has ever had a love of baseball.

Kevin Costner’s Ray Kinsella builds a baseball field in the middle of his corn farm after seeing Shoeless Joe Jackson of Black Sox Scandal fame on his property. The movie was so popular that after its release in April of 1989, it ran at theaters until December. 

A little known fact about Field of Dreams…then-teenagers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were extras in the scene that took place at Fenway Park. It’s still unconfirmed as to who speaks the line that Costner hears at the beginning of the film, though many believe it is Costner himself.

Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!

Rudy movie logo

Daniel Ruettiger just wanted to play football at Notre Dame. The only problem was that he was too small, too slow, and not athletic enough to even play Division III football. 

In true sports movies fashion, underdog Rudy just simply will not give up. He couldn’t even get into Notre Dame and had to take classes at nearby Holy Cross College before transferring. 

He walks on the football team and catches the eye of assistant coach Joe Yonto. Rudy earns a spot on the practice squad. All Rudy wants to play in a game. He asks head coach Ara Parseghian who says he will indeed allow Rudy to suit up for one game as a senior.

When Parseghian retires before Rudy’s senior year, Dan Devine takes over. He will not allow Rudy to dress for a game. Rudy quits. Prior to the final home game that season, one of the great scenes in the movie shows all the Notre Dame players turning in their jerseys to Coach Devine.

If Rudy can’t play, they won’t either. It’s a powerful display of solidarity. Devine relents and Rudy dresses for the game. Then, with Notre Dame leading late in the game, chants of “Rudy, Rudy” come from the crowd.

Rudy gets on the field and actually makes a tackle. At the end of the game, his teammates carry him off the field on their shoulders. It’s a great story of the underdog coming through. 

Incidentally, the guy that wrote the script for Rudy – Angelo Pizzo – is the same guy that wrote the script for…Hoosiers! The guy knows his sports movies.

No. 1 – Do You Believe in Miracles?

Do You Believe in Miracles movie logo

If you are a sports fan, you’ll remember it as one of the most iconic phrases ever uttered by a sportscaster. In February of 1980 at the Winter Olympic Games being held in Lake Placid, New York, a group of amateur hockey players from the United States pulled off the biggest upset in the history of sports.

There just aren’t enough sports movies like Miracle. Released in 2004, Miracle tells the story of the 1980 U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team. At the time, only amateurs could compete for the U.S. 

The movie stars Kurt Russell as the legendary Herb Brooks, the head coach at the University of Minnesota who devises a strategy to beat the world’s best. 

The Americans are put to the test by Brooks, who interestingly was the last player cut from the Team USA that won an ice hockey gold medal at the 1960 Olympics. 

Brooks finalizes the roster and the young Americans play an exhibition game against the Soviets. Team USA gets crushed 10-3. 

Miracle is the ultimate underdog story, since it is entirely true. Team USA had no business winning its first game in the tournament. Trailing Sweden 2-1, Russell replays a legendary Brooks moment. During an intermission, he throws a table and accuses Rob McClanahan of quitting. 

“Think that’ll get them going?” Brooks says to his assistant Craig Patrick. The U.S. scores with 27 seconds left in the game to salvage a 2-2 tie.

Then, the big one comes. Team USA upsets the best team in the world, the Soviet Union. It’s an absolute miracle among sports movies…and it’s true!

Top Sports Movies Honorable Mention

Coach Rick, one of our leading football experts here at Sports Hub, just happens to be from an area where two great sports movies were filmed. 

He grew up near Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where the 1977 classic Slap Shot was filmed. In fact, his grandmother worked at the arena where the hockey scenes were filmed. As a young kid, he attended many a minor league hockey game where the “Hanson” brothers were actual players. 

A few years later, several of Coach Rick’s high school football teammates were extras in a football movie called All the Right Moves. It starred a very young Tom Cruise.

More Sports Movies Honorable Mention

On the Sports Hub list of best sports movies of all time are films about typical sports. What about those that were pretty good, but they are not about common sports? 

Dodgeball starred Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. It’s a hilarious comedy that made over $168 million in 2004. There aren’t many movies about dodgeball, that sport that used to strike fear into middle schoolers everywhere.

Arm wrestling movies? Check. After Rocky, Stallone needed something to do, so he played the role of Lincoln Hawk in the movie Over the Top. He’s a long haul truck driver that wins arm wrestling tournaments.

There have been a number of horse racing movies through the years. Seabiscuit, which was released in 2003, made over $148 million. It was loosely based on the real Seabiscuit, an undersized and overlooked Thoroughbred who became a household name during the Depression.

Figure skating? Maybe you would like the romance of Cutting Edge or the comedy of Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory. 

Rugby has Invictus. Cross country running has McFarland, USA, starring Costner again. The Bring It On series put cheerleading in the spotlight and there’s even a great pool movie – The Color of Money.

There are tons of great sports movies out there. If you like the Sports Hub list, share it on your social media. If you think we missed something, let us know.

About the Author
Joe Berra
Joe Berra
Sports Writer
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Joe takes care of the bits and pieces that sometimes slip through the cracks of the sports world. Efficiency and consistency is what makes different. JB helps keep Sports Hub’s content fresh and exciting, managing its many authors. From the New York area, Joe knew he had a knack for sports betting when his uncle was always asking him which side he was on as a young boy. His meticulous approach to the numbers formed his career path as a professional handicapper. Joe is sometimes called Jimmy Bagpipes, JB or Mr. B.