It’s that time of year again—baseball is heading into the playoffs, football teams are working out the kinks in pre-season, and fans everywhere are counting down the days until they can throw on their favorite jerseys, get serious about trash talk, and settle in to see if their team can bring home the bragging rights. If you’re like us, you also don’t hate the way those ripped athletes look as they step up to the plate or get ready to catch the snap… amiright? And while we’re all waiting to see how this year’s championships are going to fall, we’re busy reading contemporary romance author Julia Blake’s Changing the Play. And lucky for us, when we’re finished devouring this sizzling sports romance, Julia Blake has a sports movie marathon all lined up and ready to go.
I love sports movies. All that on-field drama, all the backroom backstabbing, and all those chances for comedy! When it’s done well, there’s nothing better because sports movies push characters into tough situations, forcing them to make choices about what really matters to them, like team, integrity, and hard work.
The best part is, you don’t have to be glued to your TV every Sunday during football season or swear that there’s nothing better than playoff baseball to enjoy a good sports movies.
Here’s a list of five to try the next time you’re looking to add to your Netflix queue:
A League of Their Own
With World War II threatening to shut down major league baseball, a group of owners starts a women’s league. Reluctantly managed by Tom Hanks, Gene Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, and others form the Rockford Peaches and navigate their friendships during their first season together. The movie is a favorite for a reason, not least of all iconic quote, “There’s no crying in baseball!”
This coming-of-age movie always seemed to be on at a restaurant my family would go to in Pasadena when I was a kid. It’s about a group of kids who practice every day for their sandlot league. When a Babe Ruth-signed baseball ends up in the yard of a massive dog named “The Beast,” they have to figure out how to get it back.
Paul Newman plays the aging player-coach of the Charlestown Chiefs, a failing hockey team that’s going to be shut down at end of the season. In an attempt to save the team and get the attention of a buyer, her stacks the roster with a bunch of misfit enforcers who give fans the aggressive, fighting-style they want to see. While this is a classic sports comedy, I will warn you that there’s a lot of hockey bros being hockey bros on screen which means a lot of the language in this movie is a cringe-worthy vestige of its time.
Any Given Sunday
Despite taking itself very seriously, this movie proves that sometimes the NFL is really just one giant soap opera’s worth of off-field machinations. It centers around Al Pacino (who is at his most Al Pacino) playing the head coach of the failing Miami Sharks. When his starting and second-string quarterbacks get injured, he has to play Willie Beaman (Jamie Foxx). The team owner, played by Cameron Diaz, doesn’t like that decision, but the team begins to win games. All of it threatens to unravel, however, when Beaman’s growing arrogance gets out of hand and he needs to be taught the lesson that is prevalent in all sports movies: the team always comes first.
When I decided to write my sports romance, Changing the Play, which tells the story of an agent and sports reporter falling in love while clashing over an interview before the NFL Draft, I didn’t have any movies in mind. Then Draft Day (starring Kevin Costner as the general manager of the Cleveland Browns) came out shortly after I’d finished the first draft, and everyone I mentioned the book to wanted to know if I’d seen the movie.
Well, I have now. I won’t claim that it’s my favorite. (If I had my way I’d rewrite the script so that Jennifer Garner’s Ali, clearly the most competent member of the Browns’ front office, was calling the shots.) However, it’s fun if you like the ever-shifting, behind-the-scenes drama of sports.