10 Most Inspirational Sports Movies

Published 1 year ago by This is a list post.

10 Most Inspirational Sports Movies

"42" Jackie Robinson Movie The new film 42 tells the life story of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player to play in Major League Baseball, and how his incredible athleticism, consummate professionalism, and character helped change perceptions of race in America, and contributed to the rise of the Civil Rights Movement. So far, reviews for the film are good, praising Chadwick Boseman's performance as the iconic Robinson and Harrison Ford's supporting role as Brooklyn Dodgers' manager Branch Rickey. (Check out Screen Rant's review of 42.) In honor of the release of 42, Screen Rant decided to highlight 10 other inspirational sports movies. Check them out and see if you agree with our list.

Rudy (1993)

Rudy - Inspirational Sports Movie

Rudy, starring Sean Astin, tells the story of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, an average kid who dreams of playing football for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame University. Based on true events, the film is an amazing underdog story that never fails to bring a tear to my eye. Despite all of the obstacles in his way - no money, bad grades, limited athleticism - Rudy never gives up on his dream and works his butt off to make it on the team. By the end of the movie, when the players are hoisting Rudy on their shoulders and the crowd is chanting his name, you can't help but smile (even if the real Rudy story was far less dramatic.)

Warrior (2011)

Warrior - Inspirational Sports Movie

While the Ultimate Fighting Championship has been around for 20 years, mixed martial arts is still a comparatively new sport. But that doesn't mean that MMA doesn't boast its own inspirational movie. Warrior, starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as estranged brothers who compete against each other in a major MMA tournament, was a huge hit with critics in 2011. The film combined believable and sympathetic characters, terrific fight sequences, and top-notch acting to tell an inspiring story of redemption and the bonds of family. Plus, it taught millions of people the strategic value of a rear naked choke.

Remember The Titans (2000)

Remember the Titans - Inspirational Sports Movie

Disney's Remember The Titans is another "based on a true story" film, which tells the story of one coach's struggle to integrate a high school football team in the early 1970s. Many critics felt that the film had a simplistic take on resolving racial tensions, and the movie trumps-up what actually happened for maximum dramatic effect, but mainstream audiences loved Remember The Titans and it's considered a modern sports classic. Plus, it's got Denzel Washington, and who doesn't like Denzel?

The Karate Kid (1984)

Karate Kid - Inspirational Sports Movie

Since it's release in 1984, The Karate Kid has become an integral part of pop culture. (Who among us hasn't stood on top of a post and tried to do a crane kick?) But what's really great about The Karate Kid is that it's actually a really, really good movie. For those unlucky few who haven't seen The Karate Kid, the movie tells the story of Daniel LaRusso, a teenager who is uprooted from his home in New Jersey and moved across the country to Los Angeles. Once there, he becomes the victim of a gang of bullies, who are experts in karate. Fortunately, Daniel becomes friends with his apartment complex's handyman, Mr. Miyagi, who teaches him not only how to defend himself, but also how to live honorably. It's an inspiring film that checks off more than a few sports movie cliches, but doesn't suffer because of it thanks to strong acting, interesting characters, and great writing. While the remake was a success in its own right - there's just nothing quite like the original. Crane-kick FTW!

Hoop Dreams (1994)

Hoop Dreams - Inspirational Sports Movie

The only documentary film on our list, Hoop Dreams tells the story of two African-American teenagers - William Gates and Arthur Agee - who leave their rough Chicago neighborhoods to play basketball at a suburban prep school, with the hope of someday becoming NBA stars. One of the reasons that Hoop Dreams is routinely hailed as one of the greatest documentaries of all time, and one of the best sports movies ever, is because the filmmakers did such such an amazing job of capturing these boys' lives. Over the movie's three-hour run time, you get to know Gates and Agee on an almost personal level. When they're treated unfairly by their school's financial aid department, you want to stand up and shout. When Agee's addict father steps off the basketball court to buy drugs in plain view of his son, you want to cry. Hoop Dreams doesn't offer a happy Hollywood ending, but it's real and challenging, and that's what why it's on our list.

The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

Pride of the Yankees - Inspirational Sports Movie

The Pride of the Yankees is the inspiring story of legendary New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig, whose career was tragically cut short when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a disease so uncommon that it would go on to be known as Lou Gehrig's disease). Gehrig, played in the film by Gary Cooper, died just a year before the release of the movie, so he was still very much in the public consciousness. When the movie came out, it's hard to imagine there was a dry eye in the house when Cooper uttered Gehrig's famous farewell speech at Yankees Stadium. Come to think of it, it's a little hard not to choke up just thinking about Gehrig's speech. Any man that can face what Gehrig was facing and earnestly tell the world, "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth," deserves a spot on our inspirational movies list.

Miracle (2004)

Miracle - Inspirational Sports Movie

Miracle tells the inspirational story of the U.S. Men's Hockey team's underdog victory over the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics. The movie, starring Kurt Russel as USA head coach Herb Brooks, is notable because it captures one of the most famous events in sports history from the perspective of the men who lived it. Like Remember the Titans, Miracle treads on very cliched territory, but manages to elevate itself through strong performances and restrained directing from Gavin O'Connor (who also directed another movie on our list, Warrior). If you talk to people who were alive during the 1980 Olympics, you will hear how big of a deal this game was. The fact that Miracle captures the drama of that time so well definitely earns it a spot on the list.

The Natural (1984)

The Natural - Inspirational Sports Movie

The Natural tells the fictional story of Roy Hobbs, a great "natural" baseball player whose career is limited by a series of setbacks and mistakes. As Hobbs, Robert Redford gives an outstanding performance, showing that, while life is often unfair, we have the power within us to shape our own destiny.

If anything, The Natural makes the list simply because of its very last scene. You know the one: when Hobbs knocks a game-winning home run into the stadium lights and rounds the bases while sparks rain down on him. It's one of the most famous scenes in movie history, and it's also one of the most inspiring sports movie moments ever.

Hoosiers (1986)

Hoosiers - Inspirational Sports Movie

Hoosiers, which is loosely based on a true story, tells the inspirational story of how a small-town Indiana high school basketball team was able to overcome the odds and defeat a much better big city team for the state championship. As Coach Norman Dale, Gene Hackman gives a terrific performance and his motivational speech before the regional finals is fondly remembered as one of the most inspirational moments in sports movie history. It's simple, honest, and delivered with passion, mirroring the things that make the movie so great. "If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we're gonna be winners!" Who can't get behind that?

Rocky (1976)

Rocky - Inspirational Sports Movie

Last, but certainly not least, we have Rocky. Perhaps the greatest sports movie of all time, Rocky is the Academy Award-winning underdog story of Rocky Balboa, a wannabe prizefighter who gets a one-in-a-million shot to compete for the heavyweight title and goes toe-to-toe with the champ. While many would argue that Rocky should never have won Best Picture over Taxi Driver, there's no denying how much of an impact that Rocky has had on our culture. Even the making of the movie is inspirational. Sylvester Stallone regularly rejected huge offers for this script just so that he could star in the movie. The film went on to be nominated for 10 Academy Awards and was the highest-grossing movie of 1976. A true-life underdog story about an underdog movie? It doesn't get much more inspirational than that.


42 - Inspirational Sports Movie

Those are our 10 choices for the most inspirational sports movies of all time, but I'm sure that you've got some great picks too. Let us know which movies you think should have made the list in the comments. (Special note to all you Field of Dreams fans: this was the most inspirational sports movies, not the best sports movies. Please don't yell at me too much.) ——— 42 is now in theaters. Be sure to Read our Review.
TAGS: 42


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  1. RUDY @ #10?? COME ON!!! Nice list though…All your lists are great IMHO

  2. Gavin O’Connor is such an underated director. Guy has directed two great sports films…Warrior would have been an utter straight masterpiece but I didn’t like its ending to much. But during the entire build up to the ending, I was like this is the best sports film I have ever seen. Then the ending had to ruin it, at least the acting was still stellar during the ending scene. Tom Hardy’s acting in that film was unreal. He should have got a Nom along with Nick Nolte.


  4. No Rookie of the Year? I call shenanigans!

    • ROTY was great. And Little Big League. And The Sandlot!!!! But they aren’t really inspirational…

      • Bingo

        • *face-palm*

  5. Nice list. I’m surprised The Blind Side wasn’t on it though. I would have probably put Cinderella Man on it too.

  6. No Coach Carter?! I thought that would have been quite high,

    ” Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    Good to see Warrior in there though..

  7. Quack. Quack. Quack. Quack quack quack quack quack.

    • + 9999999.9


  9. Coach Carter?
    Jerry Maguire?!
    Cool Runnings!?
    Mighty ducks 1 and 2!!
    Taladega nights!? haha
    million dollar baby?

    • I found Coach Carter a good movie but I feel like Glory Road was more inspirational.

  10. Happy Gilmore?…

  11. UFC is as much a sport as pro wrestling. Might as well put 2 guys in a ring with clubs and let them beat each other to death.

    • Pro wrestling isn’t a sport. It’s acting.

    • It’s safer than boxing. And the sport is called Mixed Martial Arts, or MMA. The UFC is an organization

    • Fighting is the oldest sport in the history of existence.

  12. Warrior is my personal most inspirational film. But what about Glory road?

    • Yes.

  13. A League of There Own?


  14. A personal favorite of mine that didn’t make the list is “Without Limits,” but I can understand why. It’s fairly under the radar.

    • +1000

  15. Warrior and Cinderella Man are my favorites.

  16. Vision Quest, Cool Runnings, Legendary, The Hammer (Matt Hamill Bio-Drama).

    And while it’s more comedy along with inspirational, The Air Up There – Kevin Bacon.

  17. For me personally, Blind Side and Rocky Balboa would be somewhere in here. I absolutely loved the Blind Side, and although I do love Rocky, I actually prefer Balboa to it.

    But overall, great list :)

  18. I would say these deserve to be on here:

    based on true stories
    We Are Marshall
    Coach Carter
    Field of Dreams
    The Blind Side

    not based on true stories
    Here Comes the Boom (yes a comedy but it had a great message behind it)
    Facing the Giants (a christian film)

    • Field of Dreams was based of a true story?

      • What? You didn’t hear about the guy who built a baseball diamond in his corn field and a bunch of dead baseball players came to play there? It was all over the news back in the 70s.

        • lol

  19. Warrior is one of my favorites :)

  20. Invincible with Mark Wahlberg as Vince Papale.

    • Love that movie

  21. I was starting to get mad at first because I thought you left out Rocky lol, Rocky IV was my personal favorite but I would be glad to see any of them make the list

  22. Good list!

    Some of my favorites:
    Chariots of Fire
    Without Limits

    Now go run!

  23. Good list. I thought A League Of Their Own could of been mentioned atleast that too was a great film & one of Tom Hanks good acting gigs because he made me laugh. I know it’s Disney & kids film but i liked The Mighty Ducks.

  24. Rocky kept me in shape

  25. The Rocky films sure do have the music help get you in the mood to get in shape, doubt about that. Eye Of The Tiger!

  26. Great clip of some of those movies:

  27. Any Given Sunday anyone!?

    • Love that movie, but its not as inspirational as those listed.

      • I thought it was motivational. Coming from a high school QB, and athlete in general.

        What I got out of it is that you may get the keys to the kingdom but that doesn’t mean you get to play king. Beaman gets QB1 handed to him because of an injury, he goes in does a good job and then thinks he’s this grand king and pisses everyone off. It’s a pretty common thing, pro backups get the call in, no matter what position, they do good and get a head on their shoulders just because they had a few good games. It’s reminding him/us to stay grounded.

  28. What, no Running Man?

  29. hey what about Pumping Iron? ok it’s a documentary , but it got me back to lifting weights after a long break …