Starring: Kurt Russell
This is hands down my favorite sports movie of all time and I don’t particularly love hockey. This movie takes you back to the 1980 Olympics when an entire country was pulling for the underdogs of the U.S. hockey team. It’s an amazing story of what it means to have heart, perseverance, and to work as a team. It’s one of those happy endings that always make me cry at the end and my kids jumped of the couch and celebrated as if it were 1980.
Starring: Diane Lane, John Malkovich
I can’t imagine anyone not loving this movie, of course I’m from Kentucky so I love thoroughbreds anyway. Secretariat was a Triple Crown winner that was owned by a woman in a men dominated industry. In 1973, the odds were against Secretariat and yet he kept running and had support behind him who never gave up on him. His success started with a woman who just had “a good feeling about this horse” and she wasn’t about to listen to the opinions of critics. After watching this movie for the first time my 9 year old son said, “When I get to heaven I want to ride Secretariat.” Sounds like a pretty nice ride to me!
Remember the Titans
Starring: Denzel Washington
This is probably best suited for kids that are a little bit older, but my 6 year old watched it. It’s hard for kids to understand segregation and that it still existed in the 1970’s (heck, it’s hard for me to understand too). But this movie is a terrific story about overcoming prejudice and about overcoming the way you were raised and making those decisions for yourself. It’s about standing up for what you know is right even when it’s hard and that you can’t be a successful team if you are divided.
Million Dollar Arm
Starring: Jon Hamm
This is the story of an American sports agent went to India on an extreme long-shot talent search for an Indian athlete with a “million dollar arm.” He finally recruits two young Indians who showed promise but who have never played baseball in their lives. It’s light-hearted and entertaining. Great movie about the opportunity of a lifetime and how sometimes great things just come your way. I also found it an interesting lesson about thinking outside the box.
Starring: Kevin Costner
You know this movie is good, because Kevin Costner is in it. There isn’t much in McFarland, California and the primary residents are low income Hispanics. Hispanic kids in this town don’t really have a lot to hope for until a new P.E. teacher realizes that years of hard work have given these kids great endurance so he forms a small cross country team. Coach White leads the boys to a state championship and will do so a total of 9 times in 14 years. All the kids under Coach White that first year go on to college, a major accomplishment from this poverty stricken town.
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Kathy Bates
The downside to this one is that it’s PG-13, however the reasons for the rating kind of went over my kids heads anyway. There are a few discussions about drugs, racism, and some sexual references, but there really wasn’t anything I was concerned about and the worse cuss words are “frickin’, bull, and dang. Click here to learn more about the concerns regarding the rating so you can determine it’s ok for your kids. After my 6 year old daughter watched it she summed it up as, “There is a big brown guy named Big Mike and he finds a new peach momma (she calls white people peach). The new mama teaches Big Mike to play football and helps him learn and he gets to go to college.” That about sums it up! Big Mike is the ultimate American success story and the good people who take him in are the definition of what it means to be good Christian people.
Starring: Josh Lucas
In 1966 Coach Don Haskins is asked to coach college basketball at the Texas Western and it’s the break he’s been waiting for. His first job is to recruit a winning team and he recruits seven African American players, which was just plain unheard of at the time. The coach and his team have to overcome racism in on and off the court. It’s so important for kids to know about how hard African Americans have had to fight for equality.
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Ed Harris
In 1976 people with special needs were often ostracized and people really didn’t understand them as much as we do today. When Coach Jones witnesses some of his football players picking on developmentally challenged man named Radio. Coach Jones forms a strong friendship with Radio eventually winning over the townspeople who shunned him. After this movie my kids and I talked about some kids they know from school with autism and what that means and how we treat others, and how we take up for people who might not be able to take up for themselves.
Starring: Sean Astin
Never give up on your dreams no matter how far-fetched they seem. Rudy wanted to play for Notre-Dame. Problem was he didn’t have the grades to get into Notre Dame and he was also too small for college football. But his biggest obstacle was a family who continued to remind him of his shortcomings. But Rudy was persistent and refused to give up until he got his big chance. While his college football career was short lived, his success in getting there lasted a lifetime and inspired many. Rudy is an American classic!
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear
Vince Papale is an out-of-work substitute teacher, and part-time bartender who arrives home to find his wife has left him taking everything. The only thing left behind is a note reminding him that he is a failure, a man who will never amount to anything. Papale believed in himself and was one of a hundred to make the Philadelphia Eagles football team as a walk on. He inspired people to chase their dreams even when nay-sayers put you down.