Sports Movies Educate and Inspire Others to Visit ‘Happy Place’

When Robert Redford’s character hits that mammoth homerun into the stadium lights to win the game in “The Natural,” I always get goose bumps. It’s one of those classic moments in sports movies that register in the viewer’s memory forever. Both non-fiction and fiction movies excite, depress, inspire and make the audience laugh their asses off. How many of you have chanted: “Water Sucks! It really, really sucks!” or “Gaaaaatoraaaade,” After seeing “The Waterboy?”

Sports and comedy have been a deadly combination in the last 15 years, really starting with “Happy Gilmore” in 1996. Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Kevin Costner have done a superb job in making us laugh while participating in the sports we love. They have shown a softer side to sports than what we often see in professional sports. Sports can be fun and often funny.

Sports in movies can also teach us about history and struggle. I learned a lot about South Africa and Nelson Mandela from “Invictus.” Morgan Freeman is well deserving of his Golden Globe nomination. I found out that Mandela actually said that if he was to be portrayed in a movie, it could only be Freeman. “Cinderella Man” informed a new generation about the struggles of the Great Depression.

Athletics have always played a large role in not just American history, but world history. The Olympics are a great example. Jesse Owens  defeating Hitler’s perfect race, Tommie Smith’s and John Carlos’ raised black hands, and the Munich massacre in 1972 stick out as the most memorable moments in both Olympic and World history. “Cool Runnings”, “Seabiscuit”, and “61*” chronicled the years they depicted to a tee. The movies mentioned above are just examples of feature films that entertain and are also great teaching aids.

The following words are from The New University staff, talking about their favorite sports movies and why they like them so much:

First up is Features Editor Khassaundra Delgado, who enjoys “Remember the Titans” and “The Sandlot” because they have that classic and timeless movie quality. The year doesn’t matter, because these two movies are great choices anytime.

Next, Entertainment Editor Natasha Aftandilians choice is somewhat of a dark horse candidate in my view, but she chooses “Air Bud” as her favorite sports movie of all-time. Her reason is as follows: “It’s my favorite because it’s a dog that plays basketball with its nose. ’Nuff said.”

Copy Editor Diane Ly has three favorites. “The Sandlot” and “Remember The Titans” make it on the list a second time, and her third choice is “The Mighty Ducks.” She backs up her choice of “The Mighty Ducks” with these statements: “Well, it came out when I was young so I looked up to the characters a lot, namely the Asian dude and the girls on the team (for reasons you can probably assume). Also, I grew up watching hockey with my dad because we’re from Montréal, so it was cool seeing other kids my age being exposed to a sport that was unknown to people in my generation.”

Sports Editor David Gao, AKA my boss, had a larger list than the previous contributors. “‘Sandlot’ because heroes are remembered, but legends never die. ‘Coach Carter’ because our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. ‘The Mighty Ducks’ because of the flying V. ‘Angels in the Outfield’ because I want to be in a stadium where everyone is flapping their arms. ‘Dodgeball’ because it is the ultimate underdog story. ‘A League of their Own’ because you don’t cry in baseball.” David clearly took away important life-learned lessons from the above mentioned films.

Opinion Editor Mengfei Chen picked “Space Jam” because of the Looney Tunes characters and Michael Jordan. I support this choice 100 percent. Good call!

Layout Staffer Traci Garling Lee chose “Angels in the Outfield” for two reasons: 1. It had a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it. 2. It made her laugh a lot, for reasons her seven-year-old self can’t remember.

From reviewing the information above, it’s clear that people enjoy sports movies because of different things. Everyone has different tastes and although many people chose the same movies, they have different reasons.

I personally find any movie with a sport in it entertaining. One of the funniest movies I have ever seen was “BASEketball.” I have actually tried to start my own BASEketball league back home; it’s a great sport in theory and one that any person can play.

It’s hard to pick one all-time favorite sports movie. I will say that “Any Given Sunday” was one of the greatest movies depicting a real sport. It really made me believe that professional football was like what I was watching. And you can’t go wrong with an Oliver Stone flick.