Rick Zamperin: How many of these ‘must watch’ sports movies have you seen?

PREMIUM -- FIELD OF DREAMS, Ray Liotta, 1989, (c) Universal/courtesy Everett Collection. Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

It’s another long weekend, at least in a handful of provinces and territories across Canada, including Ontario, Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nunavut.

Many Canadians will venture outside to celebrate the civic holiday as we cherish every bit of sunshine and hot weather that summer has to offer.

Others will stay indoors and spend the day in front of the television or cuddle up with a tablet or laptop and binge watch their favourite shows.

If you are in the latter group and are looking for something new to watch, or want to re-watch some classics, here’s my list of “must watch” sports movies.

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Rocky (1976), starring Sylvester Stallone, is a classic movie, sports or otherwise, that epitomizes the underdog story about a boxer that no one has heard about who goes the distance with the world champion and wins the praise of a nation, and his newfound love.

The Bad News Bears (1976), starring Walter Matthau, touches all the bases with a story about a ragtag kids baseball team that becomes the best in the land.

Slap Shot (1976), starring Paul Newman, is on every hockey fan’s list of best sports movies, combining brutal violence with a bunch of hearty laughs.

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Raging Bull (1980), starring Robert De Niro, profiles the life and times of boxer Jake LaMotta and is the only role that brought De Niro an Oscar for Best Actor.

Caddyshack (1980), starring Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray and Ted Knight, will have you laughing throughout, thanks in large part to Murray’s portrayal of groundskeeper Carl Spackler.

The Karate Kid (1984), starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita, gave rise to the popularity of karate in the 1980’s and is an incredible against all odds story.

Ralph Macchio (right) and William Zabka starred in Cobra Kai, which premiered May 2, 2018. YouTube Red/courtesy Everett Collection

The Natural (1984), starring Robert Redford, is set in 1939 and chronicles the mysterious rise of “natural” baseball player Roy Hobbs. The ending, and the magnificent score, gets me choked up every time I watch it.

Hoosiers (1986), starring Gene Hackman, is an against-all-odds story with some exceptional scenes on the basketball court.

Youngblood (1986), starring Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze and Cynthia Gibb, is about a hot shot hockey player on the fictional Hamilton Mustangs who can skate and score, but can’t fight. The film also includes Keanu Reeves, as well as Steve Thomas and Peter Zezel who went on to have lengthy careers in the NHL.

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Bull Durham (1988), starring Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, offers a handful of hilarious moments on, and off, the baseball field and the relationship between a minor league journeyman (Costner) and a promising fireball pitcher (Robbins).

Field of Dreams (1989), starring Kevin Costner, a man who hears voices mows down his cornfield to create a baseball diamond and embarks on a whimsical journey that will have you weeping like a baby before the final credits.

Major League (1989), starring Charlie Sheen, is a laugh out loud comedy with a decent story line that sprinkles in some great baseball action.

Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers in ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’

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A League Of Their Own (1992), starring Tom Hanks and Geena Davis, not only coined the phrase “There’s no crying in baseball,” it profiled the real life exploits of the women who entertained America in the 1940s and 50s in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Rudy (1993), starring Sean Astin, is the inspirational true story of Notre Dame football player Rudy Ruettiger.

The Sandlot (1993), starring Tom Guiry and Mike Vitar (and also includes James Earl Jones and Denis Leary), is a coming-of-age comedy about a group of baseball-loving boys who come face-to-face with ‘The Beast.’

Cool Runnings (1993), starring Leon, Doug E. Doug and the late, great John Candy, is loosely based on the true story of the Jamaican bobsled team’s efforts at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

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Hoop Dreams (1994), starring William Gates and Arthur Agee, a documentary that follows the two African-American teenagers on their quest to become professional basketball players.

Happy Gilmore (1996), starring Adam Sandler, is a mindless comedy about a failed hockey player turned golfer that includes an epic cameo of Bob Barker from The Price is Right fame.

Tin Cup (1996), starring Kevin Costner, is a romantic comedy about a once promising golfer who finds himself on the cusp of glory on the links.

Jerry Maguire (1996), starring Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Junior, follows a sports agent who takes a moral stance and is left with just one athlete.

Million Dollar Baby (2004), starring Clint Eastwood and Hilary Swank, won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Director, is one of the best boxing movies you will ever watch.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004), starring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller, is a downright hilarious flick that follow a group of misfits all the way to the pinnacle of the sport.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), starring Will Ferrell, is what I describe as an over-the-top ‘stupid funny’ film that throws in some cool stock car racing scenes.

The Blind Side (2009), starring Sandra Bullock and Quinton Aaron, is the touching real life story of football player Michael Oher who is taken in by a caring woman and her family.

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Moneyball (2011), starring Brad Pitt, profiles the birthplace of the science of baseball, sabermetrics and predictive analytics.

Rush (2013), starring Chris Hemsworth, is a fantastic film from Ron Howard that is based on the bitter rivalry between Formula 1 racecar drivers Niki Lauda and James Hunt.

Concussion (2015), starring Will Smith, shows us how a pathologist uncovers the truth about brain damage suffered by football players.

There are countless other sports-themed films that will get your adrenaline racing and your emotions running on high — like Brian’s Song, The Wrestler, He Got Game, The Hustler, The Mighty Ducks, and Creed — and while they may not be as raw and exciting as a real sporting event, sports films are the next best thing.

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