Sports movies are always crowd-pleasers and the genre has produced some of the big screen’s most popular titles. Chariots of Fire, Rocky, Field of Dreams, the list goes on and on. But it is also an area that includes some intriguing cul de sacs, lesser-known movies from independent producers that can educate as well as entertain and inspire. How many of the following flicks have you seen?
If you are new to the world of cricket, it is worth paying a visit to ComeOn before you watch this 2008 movie. As well as providing useful information about the game in general, the site focuses on tips for those who want to place a bet on the outcome of a game. That’s useful preparation, as Hansie tells the true story of the dark side of this everyday activity in the sport of gentlemen.
Hansie Cronje was captain of the South African cricket team from 1994 to 2000. He fell from grace in the biggest way imaginable when it was revealed he had been intentionally causing his team to lose as part of a betting scam. The movie looks at the events that led up to the media explosion and the aftermath, including his life ban from the sport and his mysterious death two years later, aged just 32.
Cycling is another sport that has seen its share of controversy in recent years, thanks to the dope-fueled antics of Lance Armstrong, a man who still doesn’t know when it’s better to keep his mouth shut. But this 1979 coming-of-age offering is from an altogether more innocent age.
The story focuses on Dave, an Indiana teenager with a passion for cycle racing. He and his three best friends are given the opportunity to compete in their local university’s annual 50-mile bike race, and their lives are never quite the same again. Look out for a young Dennis Quaid as Dave’s friend Mike.
This 2005 creation Blackball might better have been entitled oddball. It features the sport of lawn bowling, usually the preserve of the over-70s, and not the most obvious choice for a comedy sports flick. Incredibly, it is actually based on a true story.
Granted, some of the humor is more miss than hit and the lead character is unsympathetic. However, this movie did not deserve the panning that it received by the media on release. Give it a chance, especially if you love your British stars. The cast list includes Paul Kaye, Johnny Vegas, Bernard Cribbins, James Cromwell, and many other big names.
Searching for Bobby Fischer
A movie about chess is certain to have you on the edge of your seat, right? Set the cynicism aside for a moment and give this incredible film from 1994 a chance. Another that is based on a true story, it follows the fortunes of Josh, a young chess prodigy, and his evolving relationship with his ruthlessly ambitious tutor and his informal mentor, characters played by Ben Kingsley and Laurence Fishburne respectively.
It’s a great movie that delivers an important message about what truly matters in sport, but manages to do so without sounding preachy. In fact, it is arguably the most underrated sports movie of all time.