Has there been a rising interest in sports these days? If you go to the cinema at all, you would certainly think so.
Not only have there been some prominent sports movies in recent years, it seems clear that the bar has been raised for the genre. In the 2009 hit “The Blind Side,” about the young football great Michael Oher, actress Sandra Bullock won the Academy Award's Oscar for Best Performance. And this year, at the Golden Globes award ceremony, Sylvester Stallone, the rugged, beefed up creator of the Rocky movie franchise, won a Golden Globe playing the elderly Rocky Balboa in last year's hit boxing movie, “Creed.”
The movies are a ready-made vehicle for sports stories. Sports are very dramatic and very visual, lending themselves well to the big screen. And there are any number of stories of glorious championships and of great efforts on the field—win, lose or draw.
Sports have lent themselves well to movies of human tragedy. “The Pride of the Yankees,” in 1942 told the story of New York baseball great Lou Gerhig, who battled ALS late in his career, the disease commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease.
A more triumphant note was struck in the 2004 Kurt Russell film “Miracle,” which is often remembered inaccurately as “Miracle on Ice,” about the Olympic gold medal U.S. hockey team of 1980. Another stunning film of victory, “Glory Road,” tells the story of the near-undefeated championship year (1966) for the University of Western Texas, El Paso, Division I basketball team, which came out of nowhere to win it all and overcame a searing season of racism along the way.
Of course, if you love sports, you need not go further than your front door to do so.
Venues like Direct Ticket can attest to the fact that sports and television are generating new growth. That is to say that the wide appeal of sporting events and the ability to broadcast around the world go hand in hand. For example, American football is gaining in popularity in London. The Super Bowl, the crowning event for the National Football League, is viewed around the world. And soccer, once a rare spectacle in the United States, can now be said to have a truly global following with the advent of pro soccer leagues here.
Back on the big screen, there is always the occasional sports farce, featuring football ("The Longest Yard"), baseball ("Bull Duram"), basketball ("Space Jam") or golf ("Caddyshack"). But the recent spate of sports films is heavy on drama and light on laughs.
“Woodlawn,” released on DVD this year, depicts the spiritual awakening of a high school team from Woodlawn, Alabama. “Creed,” is a fictional story of a young boxer coming to grip with his past. “Southpaw,” is another boxing film that shows the private pitfalls of a grueling sport that includes a run for glory in the ring, while outside of it, the athlete's private life spirals out of control.
On the big screen, released Christmas Day, is the story of Dr. Bennett Omalu, the forensic pathologist from Pittsburgh who discovered and named the horrific condition of repeated head trauma endured while playing the sport of football for many years. The film, "Concussion", tells the story of Omalu's plight trying to bring chronic traumatic encephalopathy to the attention of the National Football League.
While football and baseball seem to dominate the big screen in the genre of sports films, "McFarland, USA", a recently released drama, told the story of a high school cross country running team, which was made up predominantly of Hispanic kids from a poor school district in California. Back on the grid iron, however, "My All American" tells the story of personal triumph of a young football player overcoming adversity to play in the big game.