12 Most Inspiring Sports Movies – Ever

12 Most Inspiring Sports Movies – Ever

In my last “12 Most Post”, I said we all need inspiration – and sometimes it comes in the form of schlocky, yet highly inspiring, sports movies.

Don’t believe me? Take a day when you’re not your normal positive self, lacking in motivation – and download one of these movies on Netflix. I guarantee you’ll come away ready to conquer the world… or at least knock some items off the “honey-do list”. Who knows? You might even be tempted to dust off that baseball glove and play catch with your kids.

One disclaimer:  please note these are not my “12 Best Sports Movies” ever – but most inspiring sports movies. “Bull Durham” and “Raging Bull” are incredibly good movies about sports, perhaps the best. Ultimately, however, they don’t inspire so much as entertain – so they don’t make the cut here. Neither does any movie by Adam Sandler; only because I really don’t like him (and even if I did, goofball sports movies like “CaddyShack” and “Slap Shot” would make this list well before “Happy Gilmore”).

1. Rocky

While I’m still unable to forgive the dreadful sequels, this movie – and the accompanying music – is the single best method of getting you, and everyone around you, fired up.  Exciting, humble and even cute at times, Rocky is the winner of this bout.

2. Field of Dreams

Despite the lack of a thrilling “hero wins” crescendo, this movie is inspiring for all the right reasons. For just a couple hours, the movie helps us focus less on work, business and money matters… and more on family and doing what’s right. “Hey Dad! Wanna’ have a catch?”

3. The Natural

Okay, so maybe Robert Redford was almost 50 when he played the lead in this baseball movie… who cares? Everything else about this movie is authentic as it gets. Great acting. Great build-up. The perfectly inspirational ending, complete with faux fireworks.

4. Hoosiers

The best “David vs. Goliath” sports movie ever… period. Throw in morals and lessons learned about second chances, and this is a real winner. If nothing else, we all need the poise and confidence Jimmy displays in the climactic scene when he calmly says in the courtside huddle: “I’ll make it”.

5. The Rookie

I imagine you won’t find this one on too many “best” lists. However, Dennis Quaid’s “Rookie” inspires anyone that could have been, should have been – and, by following his gut and passion (and with the right support system in place)… eventually was.

6. Miracle

The film itself is perhaps just adequate – but the real-life story, team-building story is pure inspiration. Feeling nothing they would learn on the court that day could be more powerful, as a coach I once cancelled practice of my varsity basketball team – and drove them all to the theater to watch.

7. Remember the Titans

Set amongst desegregation – and featuring some terrific on-field football footage – this film stands out among many similar movies for keeping a sense of humor while showing both sides of several tough societal issues, on the field and off.

8. Rudy

We know a common theme throughout most sports movies is the underdog status of the main character. In Rudy, the pint-sized, real-life, walk-on football player for Notre Dame, it just doesn’t get any more underdog. Or inspiring.

9. Secretariat and/or SeaBiscuit (Your Choice)

Okay, so maybe horse racing isn’t a typical “sport”… but both these movies are inspiring on several levels, from the races themselves to the underdog status of the equines and humans.  Well worth a place on your “must watch” list.

10. Breaking Away

A little movie with a bunch of (then) nobody actors, about an unimportant bicycle race in a town that doesn’t matter – and we love every single minute of it. From the opening sequence to the ending, this movie’s a good ride.

11. American Flyer

While not well-liked by the critics at the time (or now) this “guy” movie has it all: plot holes big enough to drive a truck through, racing, family conflict, good villains and an “ultimate sacrifice” message. Great way to kill an unmotivated Sunday morning.

12. League of Their Own

Risky starting a “sports” list with a “chick flick”, I know. But for about half our population this movie does what some sports movies just can’t: it inspires them to be something they couldn’t have been had they lived in a different era. Besides, “There’s no crying in baseball!” is one of the best lines ever in a sport movie.

Don’t have 24 hours to watch movies for inspiration? Cheat! When you feel a little less than motivated… go to YouTube, find videos of Rocky’s first fight or James Earl Jones goose-bump inducing speech (“Ray… People will come, Ray…”). Reinvent your day, and your attitude – with instant inspiration, courtesy of the movies!

That’s my “12 Most” post for this week. What are your 12 Most Inspiring Sports Movies… and why were they inspirational to you?

Featured image courtesy of crazypete04 licensed via creative commons.

Mark Babbitt


A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, YouTern CEO Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in Forbes, Fortune, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, and Under30CEO.com regarding internships, emerging talent and the current job market – and was recently honored to be named to GenJuice’s “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors” list.

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like the list

if possible do watch chak de india, an indian movie on women hockey. you will definitely love it


#4 is my favorite sports movie of all time. I watched Secretariat this year and really liked it. You could also throw Glory Road and Facing The Giants on this list IMHO, but then you wouldn't just have 12, huh?


I'm also a big fan of Friday Night Lights. That Permian Panther team overcame a lot of adversity to make it to the state championship game.

Also, while I love the ending to Field of Dreams, I think they really screwed up that classic line. I have never met one person who asks "Wanna' HAVE a catch?"

Most people say "Wanna PLAY catch?".

Sure maybe I'm being picky, but I cringe every time I hear that line.


WHAT!?!?! What about Vision Quest?! Haha.


I am so glad that "Remember the Titans" made it to your list. That was a GREAT movie. Very inspiring, and not just because of the whole perfect season/typical sports movie climax thing but more importantly the main theme of community, values, openness, integrity... the list could go on. Loved that movie, and love drawing inspiration from true life stories. Great list!


How about Friday Night Lights & Chariots of Fire?

Friday Night Lights — It didn't matter that they lost. They did their best and worked hard and new that in the end it was what they did, not what they achieved that counted.

Chariots of Fire — The 'race' between the spiritual and the physical. Don't get more inspirational than that!

Good list Daniel. I'm not really into sports, but I'd say the majority of the movies you listed are great movies for anyone looking for an inspirational Friday Night Flick.

P.S. @deleted_91832_Sean McGinnis & Daniel — Congrats on getting this thing up and running.


True story: My High School Guidance Counselor, Marvin Wood, was the inspiration for Gene Hackman's character in Hoosiers. Mr. Wood was the coach of the Milan High School team that was the smallest school ever to win the state title.