Last night there was this three and a half-hour show on TV where all they did was give golden statues to people for making good movies, and not onesports movie got a statue.
Now, I happen to love sports movies, so at first I was a little annoyed at what I believed to be a serious snub. “Man,” I thought, “these awards are never going to catch on unless they get their heads out of their asses. And ‘Oscars’? What kind of name is that?”
However, after I thought about it for a few minutes, I started to think those Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences people might have been on to something. Sure, there was an awesome movie about an epic Formula 1 rivlary (Rush) and a so-so movie about the guy who broke the color barrier in pro sports (42: The Jackie Robinson Story). But there was also a movie about two old dudes boxing (Grudge Match) and a movie about a snail who races in NASCAR (Turbo). So maybe Hollywood needs help finding some really good sports stories worthy of being made into movies.
That’s where today’s list comes in. I racked my brain to come up with a list of stories that would make sports movies that don’t suck, and came up with 11 no-doubters. Take a look and, as always, tell us what you think.
Before we get to the actual entries on the list, we have to talk about boxer Billy Miske. The St. Paul Thunderbolt is a boxing folk hero because, even though he was dying from a rare kidney disease, he continued fighting to put food on his family's table. Barely able to walk, let alone train, Miske got promotors to give him one last fight in 1923, somehow won, and used the money to buy back furniture his family had to pawn, including his wife's piano. Then he died a week later at the age of 29.
Obviously this story should be made into a movie. So the reason it's not on the list? People actually are trying to make it, apparently.
Honorable Mention: Billy Miske
They made a movie about the 1966 Texas Western (now UTEP) Miners national championship team, because they were the first college basketball national champs to start five black players, and because they beat Kentucky and legendary racist Adolph Rupp. That movie was called Glory Road.
However, before the 1966 Texas Western Miners came the 1963 Loyola University Chicago Ramblers. They were the first NCAA basketball team to break the unwritten code that said you don't put more than three black guys out on the court at the same time. They were the first to deal with crazy racists when the State of Mississippi actually banned the MSU Bulldogs from playing them. And they were the first to win a national championship with a mostly African-American starting lineup.
Shouldn't they have a movie, too?
11. The 1963 Loyola Ramblers
Wilma Rudolph wasn't just one of the greatest sprinters of all-time. She was also a black woman who competed during the civil rights era. And she overcame a crippling case of childhood polio. And she dedicated her three gold medals in the 1960 Olympics to her hero, the great Jesse Owens.
Seriously, how is there not an awesome movie about her?
10. Wilma Rudolph
You remember the Adam Greenberg story, right? The guy was a Cubs prospect who got hit in the head by the first pitch he ever saw in the big leagues, and it ruined his career. Then, seven years later, some documentary filmmaker started a campaign to get him his one at-bat and the Marlins stepped up and delivered.
Get a halfway decent actor and a good score, and this one will deliver major cineplex goosebumbs.
9. Adam Greenberg
The 2000 Spanish Paralympic basketball team that won the gold medal with guys pretending to gave intellectual disabilities? Yes, that would make a great movie. Granted, it wouldn't be a feel-good story, and they'd have to do some serious tip-toeing to make it politically correct. But David O. Russell could knock this out of the park, don't you think?
8. 2000 Spanish Paralympic Basketball Team
I'm not even kidding. Tug of war was an olympic sport from 1900 through 1920.
Obviously, this could be the subject of an irreverent sports comedy a la Dodge Ball or Major League. I'm thinking an all-star cast—Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, and Michael Cera. Maybe throw in Bill Murray as a the world's greatest living tugger? It would be amazing.
7. Olympic Tug of War
Are you kidding me? This one is crazy obviously. Canadian Olympic figure skater Joannie Rochette's mother died of a heart attack two days before the women's figure skating competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics, but she went on to compete in her mother's honor and win the silver medal. The story starts with shock and heartbreak and ends with a total triumph of the human spirit.
This should be a movie like yesterday.
6. Joannie Rochette
This one is easy. Just stretch Coleman's kickass Duracell commercial about being the first legally deaf NFL player into a 90-minute film. Show his childhood, show him not getting drafted, then conclude with him winning the Super Bowl. There's nothing to it.
5. Derrick Coleman
With this story you'd have options. You could play up the sports angle and have the movie be mostly about this female sports pioneer's legendary exploits in golf and track and field. However, Hollywood is pretty crazy about the social struggle movies these days, so you could also play up that angle by focusing on sexism and the (probably true) rumors that Zaharias was actually a lesbian, despite being married to a semi-pro wrestler.
Either way, Babe Zaharias was one of the most interesting sports figures of the 20th century. There really should be a movie about her.
4. Babe Zaharias
The 1980 U.S. Men's Olympic Hockey Team gets all the attention, but the 1960 team was just as remarkable. They were also a bunch of college kids playing pros, and they also were supposed to have no chance in hell at winning a medal, but they also managed to beat the Czechs and Soviets to win the gold medal. Thus, they should also get a cheesy Disney movie.
3. 1960 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team
If the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team performed the Miracle on Ice, the 2004 Greek Soccer team performed the Miracle of Grass. They were ranked 13th among the 16 teams at the 2004 European Football Championships and just barely escaped group play with a 1-1-1 record. However, they miraculously won three consecutive 1-0 games against France, the Czech Republic, and host Portugal to capture their first (and only) Euro championship.
2. 2004 Greek Soccer Team
You've probably never heard of the this San Francisco Dons football team, and that's a shame. In 1951 the program was in financial ruins and on the verge of folding when they went undefeated and got an invitation to the Orange Bow. This Orange Bowl appearance would have saved the team, but unfortunately it came with a catch: the Dons would have to leave their two black teammates at home.
Faced with the choice of humiliating two teammates or killing off the football program, the Dons chose the latter. Tell me that wouldn't make a good movie.
1. The 1951 San Francisco Dons
Academy Awards, Feel-Good Story, inspirational, movies, sports movies,