OPINION | Sappy sports movies help us believe the impossible

Sports movies have become a fan favorite in cinema from beloved movies like “Remember the Titans” to “The Sandlot.” However, fans appear to value unique storylines more than “based on a true story” narratives, which are sometimes exaggerated and fail to represent the entire story. Mason Britton | Sun News Daily

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In sports movies, underdogs defy the odds and emotions hit the audience harder than a knockout punch.

It is impossible not to love sports movies even though they are sappy. Cheesy and predictable sports movies lie to us and have lackluster plots, but I love them despite this.

There are two reasons it is impossible not to love sports movies. Firstly, sports movies show the impossible being attained. They show the underdog somehow winning against all odds. They portray stories similar to David beating Goliath.

If you watch a Superman movie, you know that you will never be able to fly or shoot lasers out of your eyes, but that is not the case for sports movies. It is possible to be an underdog and attain the impossible.

Movies like “Miracle” portray a rag-tag team of college hockey players beating the unbeatable Soviet Union hockey team in the Olympics. The movie is set before the 1980 Olympics. The Soviets had won the previous four Olympic games dating back to 1960.

During the period from 1960-1980, the USA and the Soviets played each other 12 times. The Soviets won the games by a combined score of 117-26 across, but in 1980, the team of college kids pulled off the impossible to beat the Soviets and won Olympic gold. 

In the movie “Invincible,” your average Joe, Vince Papale, who is a bartender gets convinced by family and friends to try out for an NFL team, and against all odds, he makes the team. He is able to pull off his dream.

We love watching the impossible being attained. We love it so much that some movies are embellished to make it happen.

“Remember the Titans” is an amazing film that is highly beloved by the majority who have watched it. This movie has a 93% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes with over a quarter of a million reviews. In the film, T.C. Williams High School overcomes racism and the “unbeatable” Marshall High School to win the state title.

However, this did not happen. Many facts from “Remember the Titans” were embellished to create an underdog story that never was.

A 1971 Supreme Court ruling on busing caused T.C. to take all the juniors and seniors from several area high schools. Overnight, the school became a dream team, not the team of underdogs that is depicted throughout the movie.

The Titans also never even played Marshall for the state title. They blew out Andrew Lewis High School in the state title game and won 27-0

When you watch movies like “Remember the Titans,” accuracy is not the No. 1 priority of what people look for in the movie. The movie “Remember the Titans” embellishes the facts portrayed in the movie because it is not a documentary. The movie does not need to be 100% accurate. People like watching the underdog pull off the impossible, even if it never really happened.

The second reason it is impossible not to love sports movies is because they just make us feel good.

Sports movies are akin to Hallmark movies in this way, and they are both watched for the same reason. Sometimes it is just nice to watch a feel-good story even if you know what the outcome of the movie will be even before watching it.

It is impossible not to feel for Rudy Ruettiger after watching the movie “Rudy.” Ruettiger gets absolutely battered and bruised for the entire movie, but in the end, he is able to get his opportunity to play and even get a sack in his last game for Notre Dame.

Sports movies can even transcend cinema in this way. Rocky Balboa, a fictional boxer, was able to capture an entire city. Balboa has a famous statue in Philadelphia as the main character from the “Rocky” franchise. Balboa captured and represented the city of Philadelphia, but it is still crazy that a statue of a fictional boxer was erected instead of so many other influential people who have come from the city.

In the end, it’s the combination of the triumph of the human spirit against all odds and the innate desire for a feel-good story that makes sports movies so irresistible. Before you judge a sports movie too harshly for being cliche, give it a chance.