There is no question about it; men and sports movies go together like…well…women and Nicholas Sparks. It just fits. Now every person has their favorite sports movie, and listing the greatest films in that genre is certainly another list for another day. This list examines the most emotional or tear-jerking scenes that will make even the most macho dude subtly wipe away tears while pretending it’s pink eye. It should go without saying but this article may in fact provide spoiler alerts.
9. Inches Short (Friday Night Lights, 2004). Not every sports movie ends with a sobby celebration and 2004’s “Friday Night Lights” re-tells the story of the real-life Odessa-Permian Panthers, who came up just short of a state championship in 1988. The movie took many liberties, but the valiant comeback in the final game comes up inches short while the team tries to deal with the heartache of losing. The soundtrack plays a vital role as a beautiful instrumental by post-rock band Explosions in the Sky plays softly over the heart-breaking visuals of defeat.
8. Gerry and Julius (Remember the Titans, 2000). “Remember the Titans” was an unforgettable film that told the real-life story of the T.C. Williams Titans and how the team came together under a cloak of racial prejudice. No scene does the film more justice than when star defensive end Gerry Bertier is seriously injured in a car accident and his black teammate sits at his side.
7. “Do You Believe in Miracles?” (Miracle, 2004). The United State’s victory over the Soviet Union during the Winter Olympics in 1980 is one of the greatest sports stories of all time. The 2004 film was a tremendous portrayal of this underdog tale and the film builds perfectly to a crescendo for the final game. Al Michael’s original line from the Lake Placid broadcast was used in the film and as the clock ticks down, the famed “do you believe in miracles? YES!” hits your heart like a ton of bricks.
6. The Speech (Any Given Sunday, 1999). Oliver Stone’s “Any Given Sunday” was a hard-hitting look at the chaotic life of professional football players, coaches, trainers and front office execs. Just when you feel like you have lost all faith in the Miami Sharks, coach Tony D’amato (played brilliantly by Al Paccino) delivers one of the most inspiring sports movie speeches of all time. He explains to his team that “life is this game of inches…” which winds up working to perfection as the Sharks come back to win a key playoff game on the heels of the inspiring speech.
5. “Yo Adrian, I did it!” (Rocky II, 1978). If you are watching “Rocky II” for the first time, even the most naive a movie-goer has to know that Rocky is going to win the final fight this time. But it was the way it all went down that made this such a magical sports movie moment. After trading blows for 15 rounds, Rocky and Apollo both go to the canvas and are given a 10 count. With the heart-pounding chords of Bill Conti playing, Rocky gets to his feet first thus winning the world heavyweight title in improbable fashion. His message to his wife of “yo Adrian, I did it!” was a perfect representation of the underdog character that Rocky Balboa was.
4. “I’ll Make It” (Hoosiers, 1986). As seconds ticked away in the Indiana state championship game, audiences remained on the edge of their seats at the thought of tiny Hickory High School defeating the giant South Bend Central. The silent assassin, Jimmy Chitwood hits the final shot in dramatic fashion and the “smallest school to ever play for a state championship” celebrates dramatically on the court. The movie was a stellar re-telling of the true story of bite-sized Milan, IN winning the state title in 1954 at the famous Butler Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN.
3. “Do you wanna have a catch?” (Field of Dreams, 1988). “Field of Dreams” is a magical journey that a simple Iowa farmer must make in order to unlock the secrets of his past and future. The film uses baseball as the ultimate metaphor as Ray Kinsella tries to confront his feelings of regret about his deceased father. At the end of the film, we find out that Ray’s journey occurred so that he can come face-to-face with his father in one of the most tear-jerking scenes in film history. Ray asks his dad if he wants to “have a catch” and with that, it becomes clear that Ray will no longer have to live with his remorseful feelings.
2. “I love Brian Piccolo” (Brian’s Song, 1971).”Brian’s Song” is a film about the relationship between Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo, two running backs from the Chicago Bears. Piccolo becomes terminally ill with cancer and the story is told through the eyes of Sayers who famously says of Piccolo ” “I love Brian Piccolo, and I’d like all of you to love him, too. Tonight, when you hit your knees to pray, please ask God to love him, too.” This was the original sports movie tear-jerker and will always be remembered for the wonderful portrayal of friendship between two athletes of such different backgrounds.
1. Rudy’s Moment (Rudy, 1993). The ending of “Rudy” might be responsible for more tears than any film in history as any human being (male or female) can relate to the dramatic story-telling in this film. After working his whole life to achieve his dream of playing football for Notre Dame, Rudy finds himself on the field during the final game of the season. In an awe-inspiring moment, Rudy comes off the edge and actually sacks the quarterback and is carried off the field by his teammates as the musical score reaches its climax. Love sports or hate sports, every human can relate to this film and the wonderful feeling of the underdog achieving his dream.