6 things you’ll see in almost every sports movie

Sports movies are one of my favourite genres to watch.

Whether it’s about chess (“Queen of Katwe”), baseball (“Field of Dreams”), poker (“21”), or chess again (“Pawn Sacrifice”), you can expect to see similar elements in almost every sports movie ever created.

When you watch a slasher movie, you know what you’re going to get. When you watch a sports movie, the same thing is true.

A great sports movie on the right day can be inspiring, motivational, and the kind of feel good that does well at the box office. That’s why people keep making them.

I guarantee that we’ll see at least a handful of sports movies in 2021 to 2022, all with the same formula that sports movies have always relied on.

Here are 6 things you’ll see in almost every sports movie.

1. The somewhat dysfunctional sports coach

In almost every sports movie, there’s a coach who can only be described as somewhat dysfunctional.

Usually, they either used to play, or used to teach. Usually, their life is a complete mess, and they can only be described as being “down on their luck” at the very start of the movie.

The coach then finds an appropriate goal or magically prodigious player to inspire them.

I understand that movies need plots, but why is the fictional coach’s life always a complete mess from the first handful of scenes?

2. The big match

The build-up behind the majority of sports movies shows preparation for something big.

A huge chunk of every sports movie involves training or preparing for the biggest match of everyone’s lives, for some reason.

Sometimes, the plot involves an important rematch without which the coach’s life cannot continue as normal. Other times, the plot is about an upcoming match or tournament that is sure to change everyone’s lives.

Movies would make you think that there are only huge, life-changing matches and tournaments in every sport. Smaller, quick games? They don’t happen.

3. The underdog player or team

All sports movies have a team or player who is currently getting the raw end of the deal – and who serves as the main focus of the story’s plot.

The underdog player or team always gets picked on, singled out, or horribly bullied for at least a good third of the movie. That’s the formula. It sucks for the hero, but it’s true for most sports movies I could think of while writing this.

The big change happens when the underdog player does something spectacular.

Usually, they show smarts, or an incredible aptitude at the game.

Cue a movie montage scene, and the mentor has found something to do with his time: Transforming the underdog player or team into champions.

4. The spectacular loss

The movie’s eventual champions cannot be winners from the very start of the movie. If they did, there would be no plot to pay attention to.

The winners have to lose once, and sometimes a few times.

At some point in almost every sports movie, there’s a spectacular loss against a formidable opponent.

The movie’s hero feels defeated, and might insist that they are done with the sport completely. The coach is there to break their fall – and the movie hits yet another emotional high.

5. The vain, terrifying opponent

The main antagonist of the average sports movie is always vain, and always terrifying. Sometimes, they are also undefeated – or just so good at the game in question that playing them strikes terror into the hearts of anyone who competes.

It’s part of the excitement of a sports movie’s plot.

The same can be said for a great deal of martial arts movies, action movies, and horror movies, too.

6. The motivational speech

The motivational speech is a crucial part of the sports movie formula.

It normally happens just before the big match everyone has been preparing and training for throughout.

Coach gathers the team or players together, and then follows with the inspirational speech of their lives. There are variations, but you might notice that the majority of speeches say the same in different ways.

It almost makes it seem like you can be a champion with a handful of montages and some inspiration.

(Hint: You can’t – now go practice your bridge game!)

Sports movies are one of my favourite genres to watch.

Whether it’s about chess (“Queen of Katwe”), baseball (“Field of Dreams”), poker (“21”), or chess again (“Pawn Sacrifice”), you can expect to see similar elements in almost every sports movie ever created.

When you watch a slasher movie, you know what you’re going to get. When you watch a sports movie, the same thing is true.

A great sports movie on the right day can be inspiring, motivational, and the kind of feel good that does well at the box office. That’s why people keep making them.

I guarantee that we’ll see at least a handful of sports movies in 2021 to 2022, all with the same formula that sports movies have always relied on.