Having played one season of Junior Varsity girls’ soccer in high school, I feel pretty confident in my ability to wax poetic on the benefits of sports. But soon after I traded in my shin pads for a sofa and my cleats for cable television, I found something that made me happier than endorphins ever could: uplifting sports movies.
These works of cinematic art taught me way more about athletics than I learned from going to regular practices. Uplifting sports movies taught me the life lessons that I could never have gained in the real world, in the classroom and certainly not on the field.
- Baseball fixes families. Let’s say, for example, that your biological father abandons you into the foster care system. He gives you one last kiss, and then takes off on his motorcycle, his shoulder length hair gleaming off the back of his rad leather jacket as he rides away in search of whatever makes absentee fathers happy. Your hopes of ever having a real family are dashed. But if you care enough about baseball and believe that Christopher Lloyd can play a believable angel, some millionaire coach will adopt you and your adorable foster care friend and love you forever. I know. I’ve seen it.
- You don’t need any legitimate athletic equipment to become a bobsledder. This is a little known fact, but bobsledding is a sport that thrives on creativity. The less conventional your training regimen, the more likely your team is to win an Olympic medal. By all means, practice your turns in a hotel bathtub. Please do drive down a grassy knoll in a pushcart, sans wheels. Do you need a talisman to ensure successful races? May I recommend an egg, which appears to be impervious to pressure, as it never once cracks throughout an entire movie, despite repeated crashes into stationary objects? Basically, if what you’re doing looks or feels nothing like actual bobsledding, you’re doing it right.
- No matter how many important titles you win, you’ll always be an underdog when you play hockey. Like most kids, you’ll start out on a pee-wee team with an alcoholic coach who hates the sport. Then, having had a mediocre, albeit triumphant season, you’ll immediately be chosen to represent your country in a national competition. Your team will be considered the underdogs, despite the fact that you come from a global superpower. And after you win the entire Junior Goodwill games, making all of America proud, you’ll be granted a full scholarship to a prep school, where you’ll be forced to compete with privileged students who still consider you to be nobodies. The road to professional hockey stardom is complicated and circuitous, but you’ll be fine if remember that Iceland is an evil country and to never trust a Nordic with a ponytail.
- Football cures racism. I know. I was shocked, too. It seems like it shouldn’t work, but it totally does. Just send two busses of high school students from different racial backgrounds to a camp in Pennsylvania and have them beat the crap out of each other until they’re friends. Heck, if the Yankees and the Confederates could have dropped the bayonets and engaged in a quick game of two hand touch, maybe we would never have had to look back on the 3/5s compromise and shudder.
- You don’t need opposable thumbs to play basketball.