Now, more than ever, we are looking to sports for comfort.
Since all the games are on hold as the world fights coronavirus, movies are one of the best options to get a dose of your favorite sport.
For the record, my favorite sports flick is Kevin Costner’s 1989 fantasy-drama Field of Dreams, an opinion shared by Gainesville baseball coach Adam Miller.
“The movie reminds of us when baseball stood for America and sacrifice,” Miller said. “I guess that’s appropriate for what we are going through now”.
There’s great things to watch that have nothing to do with sports on Netflix or other streaming services. If you haven’t watched Tiger King on Netflix, I highly recommend doing so.
However, I’m a sports writer, so I’ll stay in my lane.
Sports flicks can be uplifting, hilarious, emotional and teach serious life lessons. Mostly, it’s an outlet while the world waits at home for the quarantine to end. As humans, we are slowly coming to grips with being stuck at home during this COVID-19 pandemic.
If there’s one of these you’ve never watched, it would be a good way to eat up two hours of time. Movies, like most things, are subjective to human opinion.
Different films strike a chord with different people.
What better way to get opinion on the best sports movies than to ask the men and women who coach in real life. Earlier this week, I probed high school coaches in Hall County about their favorite sports movies. The biggest takeaway is that many who teach the game in real life are fans of movies in other sports.
First-year Lakeview Academy football coach Lee Shaw is loyal to Disney’s 2004 box-office hit Miracle, the story of the 1980 US hockey team that pulled the greatest upset in Winter Olympics history, beating Russia 4-3 in the first medal-round game.
Meanwhile, Cherokee Bluff volleyball coach Laura DeLaPerriere is still fond of the nostalgia attached to Space Jam.
As a ‘90s kid’, she recalls vividly attending Johnson High summer basketball camps when Benjie Wood was its coach. Every day during lunch, she said he would put on the film with Michael Jordan to keep them occupied.
“I think I thought I could legit dunk after watching that movie every day as a kiddo,” she said. “And I’m a 5-foot-nothing (tall) girl.”
Flowery Branch girls basketball coach Courtney Gonzalez gives the most vivid reasoning behind her favorite sports film, Remember The Titans, which is based on the experience of players in 1971 at recently-integrated TC Williams High in Alexandria, Virginia.
As the daughter of a career high school football coach, Mike Newton, Gonzalez connected with the relationship on the screen between the coach (Bill) Yoast and his football-obsessed young daughter, Sheryl.
“She had pride for her dad and who he was as a coach and she found an identity in being a coaches kid,” Gonzalez said. “She had a bond with her dad that many kids who grow up watching their parents coach have.”
Then, Gonzalez touches on the team-building storyline that happened when black and white players were forced to play together, sometimes kicking and screaming, for the first time in Remember the Titans.In the movie, Denzel Washington plays the role of the black head coach, Herman Boone, who uses tough love to get a polarized locker room to eventually play for the same cause.
“He showed the value in teams playing for more than themselves and the power of true team unity,” Gonzalez said. “He had a vision and a plan and no matter the roadblocks that he faced, he stayed true to what he believed would unify a group of young men who, in return, accomplished something special.”
Wood, now the boys basketball coach at Cherokee Bluff, and Chestatee girls coach Sutton Shirley both mentioned Coach Carter as one of the top sports movies.
“(Coach Carter) is a little old school in his ways, and has extremely high expectations for his players, on and off the court,” Shirley said. “But ultimately cares a tremendous amount about their successes and was willing to do whatever it took for them to achieve.”
West Hall football coach Krofton Montgomery sticks to films about the gridiron as best in the sports genre.
For its accuracy, he appreciates We Are Marshall, the emotional story of rebuilding a program after a plane crash killed all members onboard from the school in West Virginia, while returning from a game on a plane in 1972.
The focus is Matthew McConaughey, the irreverent new pick as coach of the Herd with quirky traits who certainly uses outside-the-box tactics to build Marshall’s program, almost entirely from scratch.
“Instead of changing a bunch of facts and having them win every game and be a Cinderella team, it follows reality of the program after the crash that destroyed their program at all levels.” Montgomery said. “Well done movie with realistic football sequences that take place during that time period of football and great acting.”
Also among the best, according to Montgomery, is The Program (1993).
“This movie changed the way my generation looked at football from the big hits, spatted cleats, and all the things that go on within a team,” the Spartans’ coach said. “Face paint was born by Steve Lattimer.”
Bull Durham, an unfiltered portrayal of life playing baseball in the minor leagues, and Sandlot, a 90’s look at kids who live for the backyard game and adventures that ensue, are the favorites of North Hall baseball coach Trevor Flow.
“So much about (Bull Durham) relates to anyone who has lived the game of baseball,” Flow said. “The one-liners about the game, the bonus baby vs. the veteran player that presents itself in the everyday life of the real game in the minor leagues, and the small idiosyncrasies relating to the game that are still used today in our present game are all so relatable to the baseball mind.
“The legendary scene where the pitcher shakes the catcher off and then the catcher gives the hitter the pitch resulting in a home run is one of the best baseball scenes ever,” he added. “The consistent rookie vs. veteran (battle) in every aspect of the movie on and off the field is perfect. The use of real-baseball language throughout makes it one of the best, if not the best, baseball movies there is for me.
On Sandlot: “As a baseball person, what is there not to find nostalgic about (Sandlot)?” Flow said. “It is basically like taking a picture of all of us kids that grew up in small towns and subdivisions, where all we lived for was playing a pickup game of baseball with our best friends. That’s where a lot of legends were made in our childhood. To sit around and talk baseball, baseball players and the game itself was a perfect picture of our childhood. It leaves you sitting there, just shaking your head in a ‘yep’ manner because it was so relatable to my childhood. I think that we could probably put each one of our friends in one of the categories of those players. Personalities, mannerisms and play on the field.”
If there are any of these you haven’t seen yet, no worries. Take two hours during quarantine time to check it off the list.
If you’re a sports fan, you’ll want to watch most — if not all of them — again and again.