What is the point of school? To learn. And sports, in my opinion, are the greatest teachers of life lessons. Here is a subjective list of the top ten movies to show in school:
Honorable Mention: Murderball
Murderball is the story of a group of quadriplegic athletes who are engaged in wheelchair rugby. The film centers around the rivalry between the United States and Canadian teams and also features the 2004 Paralympic Games. This movie tells a story of extreme perseverance. Many of these athletes have achieved more in a wheelchair than anybody could ever hope to accomplish. It is truly inspirational.
All of these movies are so good, and teach such valuable lessons, that they can be considered in any order.
Based on the story of Milan High School, Hoosiers is a 1986 sports film that told the story of an Indiana high school basketball team that won the state championship in 1954. Milan was a very small high school in a rural, southern Indiana town. This is a true underdog story that would inspire nearly everybody who watches it.
9) Coach Carter
Coach Carter is based on a true story in which Richmond High School head basketball coach Ken Carter made headlines in 1999 for locking out his undefeated team due to their poor academic results. It demonstrates, especially to scholar-athletes, that school must come first because athletic ability can only take you so far. Also, Samuel L. Jackson is captivating!
Vince Papale was a substitute teach and bartender in Philadelphia who had never played college football. In 1976, the Philadelphia Eagles, coming off of a pitiful season, decided to hold open tryouts. The 30 year old Papale made the team. He never let go of his dream and he was ultimately able to achieve success against all odds. If this doesn’t inspire people to never let go of their dream, I don’t know what will.
7) Brian’s Song
Brian’s Song features the life story of American football player Brian Piccolo and his good and bad encounters with Gale Sayer, a Hall of Fame African American football player from the Chicago Bears team. It recounts the details of the life of Brian Piccolo, a football player stricken with terminal cancer after turning pro, told through his friendship with Sayers, who helps him through the difficult struggle. The movie is based on Sayers’ account of his friendship with Piccolo and coping with Piccolo’s illness in Sayers’ autobiography, I Am Third.
6) Remember the Titans
In 1971, segregation in southern schools was the norm. For the Virginia high school of TC Williams, it was time for desegregation. This included the football team. Black and white players clashed during training camp as the players had to adjust to something they were not accustomed to in the South. It is through the strong bond of the football team, coupled with their dominance of the opposition on the field, that the school and the community would unite and make Alexandria, Virginia a better place to live. Remember The Titans captures the drama, conflict and emotions of the era through the true story of the 1971 TC Williams Titans football team. Aside from teaching a valuable lesson about segregation in US history, Denzel Washington is captivating.
5) The Express
The Express is the story of Ernie Davis, the first African-American athlete to win football’s Heisman Trophy. It explores civil topics, such as racism and discrimination. Later however, following a series of health concerns, Davis is taken to a hospital to undergo medical testing. During a routine practice session, the team owner informs Davis he will be unable to play the upcoming season due to his condition. Subsequently, Davis holds a press conference and announces he has been diagnosed with leukemia. Davis died two years later.
4) We Are Marshall
This movies follows one of the most tragic events in sports history. On the evening of November 14, 1970, Huntington, West Virginia’s Marshall University chartered a flight to transport them to North Carolina. On the flight home (after a loss), the plane clipped trees on a ridge just one mile short of the runway and crashed into a gully. There were no survivors. In all, seventy-five people lost their lives. The movie depicts the efforts to rebuild the football program and the community at Marshall.
The story is based on the book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 World Rugby Cup, which was hosted in that country following the dismantling of apartheid. Freeman and Damon play, respectively, South African President Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar, the captain of the South Africa rugby team. This is a phenomenal movie with innumerable lessons.
Rudy is a sports film that depicts the life of Daniel Ruettiger, a man who chases his dream of playing football despite several obstacles. He overcomes emotional difficulties, academic struggles, and extreme skepticism to finally make the Notre Dame football team. The ending is unforgettable. It shows that anything can be accomplished with determination and perseverance.
This movie is based on “The Miracle on Ice,” which took place in New York during the 1980 Winter Olympics. The USA national hockey team advanced to the championship game by beating the USSR team who had only lost one game since 1960. The same USSR team had humiliated the American team a week earlier, beating them by seven goals. During the Cold War, Americans needed something to rally behind and this hickey victory was it. This story, full of national pride, is one of the most famous and impressive underdog victories in the history of sports.
School gets boring, especially when you do the same thing day after day. Every time one of my teachers decides to mix things up, it refreshes my desire to learn. There’s no better way to mix things up than with a heartwarming, motivational sports movie. Sports are a huge part of our culture and history and I think more kids students should be exposed to their positive life lessons.