A Special Steve Black Show “Thank You”

On behalf of the Steve Black Show, I would like to take this time to give a special Steve Black Show “Thank You” to H&R Block and State Farm Agent Jeffrey Branum on becoming the first corporate partners of the Steve Black Show.  We hope this becomes a long time partnership!!  We will be adding a Corporate Partner page on this site very soon.

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Of course, we hope that this is just the begining as we look to add more partners for our show.  If you are a business looking to partner with our show, I would love to talk to you.  Please feel free to post a reply on this article with contact information or email me at soonersteve1968@gmail.com and I can contact you with the business plan for our show.

2013 NFL Draft by Conference

The 2013 National Football League Draft has come and gone.  Which conference sent more players on the the NFL via the draft this year?  Well, not a hard guess, but here are some numbers for you anyways!!

SEC  Once again, the SEC is one top with 63 total players selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. 

 

Pac 12  The PAC 12 came in 3rd with 28 players drafted.

Big 10  The Big 10 had 22 players drafted.  As so did the……..

Big 12 The Big 12 Conference.  And of the 6 BCS Conferences, bringing up the rear was the……..

Big East  Big East with 19 players drafted.

How good are the SEC’s numbers?  24.8 percent of those drafted this year came from the SEC.  33 of the first 99 players selected were from (you guessed it), the SEC.  It is the 7th straight year that the SEC has lead all conferences when it comes to NFL draft picks.  How many BCS titles have the SEC won in a row?…………..wait for it…………..Right!!!  7 in a row.  Is there a connection here?  You tell me.

 

 

Spring is here!!!

Spring is HERE!!!  It is that time of the year in which most college football programs have concluded their Spring practices with their annual Spring Football Game.  According to published records, here are the top ten schools who had the most attended Spring game.

 

Auburn_Tigers31.  Auburn University:  83,401

 

alabama-logo2.  University of Alabama:  78,315

 

Tennessee_Volunteers53.  University of Tennessee:  61,706

 

Nebraska_Cornhuskers4.  University of Nebraska:  60,174

 

Arkansas-Razorback-Logo15.  University of Arkansas:  51,088

 

Kentucky_Wildcats26.  University of Kentucky:  50,831

 

texas-longhorns-logo7.  University of Texas:  46,000

 

TexasAMAggies8.  University of Texas A&M:  45,212

 

Georgia_Bulldogs19.  University of Georgia:  45,113

 

ohio-state-wp-210.  Ohio State University:  37,643**

**Game played in Cincinnati, Ohio

Movie Review: “42”

D JaxBy Donney Jackson

 

42 (2013)

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, and Lucas Black

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Synopsis: Chadwick Boseman stars as the man who reintegrated Major League Baseball after 60 years of segregation, Baseball Hall of Famer, Jackie Roosevelt Robinson. Brian Hegleland wrote the screenplay and directed “42” which is Hegleland’s sixth film and greatest accomplishment to this point in his career in my opinion. Based on Robinson’s life, the film picks up when Jackie Robinson is playing baseball in the Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs when he is offered an opportunity to sign a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers by Branch Rickey, played by Harrison Ford. Rickey’s pursuit of winning, making money and doing what is right, motivates him to provide an opportunity to Jackie Robinson as a player who can help him and the Dodgers win the pennant. However, this is Major League Baseball in the 1940’s during the Jim Crow era!

Review: Brian Hegleland did a great job of giving us a baseball movie that isn’t a baseball movie; but it is a movie about a baseball player breaking the color barrier in Major League baseball. Does that make sense? I don’t know, but I do know that this is an enjoyable movie for many reasons, and one of them is Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson. Mr. Boseman was cast well for this part and is a believable, #42. It would be tough to find an actor who bears this close of a resemblance and who can convince you that you’re watching Jackie as he struggles to live his dream of playing baseball; Boseman accomplishes this. Outside of an appearance on the Fox TV sci-fi classic series, Fringe; this is basically my introduction to his true acting abilities, and I hope he continues to find work in Hollywood.

It is 1945, the Brooklyn Dodgers are trying to get over the hump and win a National League pennant but the St. Louis Cardinals are standing in their way, and they are the class of the National League. The Dodger’s president, Branch Rickey, comes up with the idea to sign a “negro” to play baseball for the Dodgers despite the objections of his colleagues, baseball and many in society. Rickey moves forward as you know, and Jackie eventually joins the Dodgers and teammates, “Pee Wee” Reese (Lucas Black) and Eddie Stanky (Jesse Luken) with managers, Lou Deroucher (Christopher Meloni) and Burt Shotton (Max Gail) as they fight for the National League pennant, change baseball and change America. Jackie’s not alone…This is the Jackie Robinson story, but it isn’t much of a story without his heart and Queen, Rachel Robinson (Nicole Beharie).

Jackie R

42, is a feel good story because it is a love story! It is an action film. It is a sports film. It is an American historical film, in a classic dramatic presentation with perfectly placed humorous lines performed quite well by Harrison Ford. Ford, puts out great effort as Branch Rickey by the way. I must admit that I didn’t recognize him at first, but after a line or two…that’s Harrison Ford! Christopher Meloni (Oz and Law and Order:SVU), is very memorable as Leo Deroucher. Alan Tudyk was very convincing as Ben Chapman, Philadelphia manager in 1947. Overall, the acting is good all around, and even though it is a difficult history to digest, Robinson’s passion and the plight of Blacks in 1940’s America, Hegleland did a wonderful job of giving us a glimpse in to that history without making it an overwhelming and face smacking message film that acts as an indictment on American history and society. In addition, Hegleland could have given us a true American movie by showing numerous racially charged, violent and/or shocking scenes to drive home the sign of the times, but he didn’t. He gave us enough! Enough see why Jackie Robinson is an American hero!

robinson   rickey

There were a few things I didn’t enjoy about the movie and I wish could’ve been different. There were some obvious historical errors in relation to the hats and uniforms. For example, the classic Brooklyn “B” on the caps, were embroidered, but in the film so that it would “pop” the on screen, the “B” was made from felt. I doubt many would even notice this unless they are baseball geeks. The jury is out on me… Also, it would have been nice to see Satchel Paige, Double-Duty Radcliffe, and Hilton Smith who were on that 1945 Kansas City Monarchs team with Jackie Robinson, identified to tie in the talent in the Negro Leagues and on that team. This would have been a plus in my book. Now this one is selfish. The movie is 128 minutes in length, and I could have sat for another 128 minutes. I felt like there was more that we could have seen, and more that we needed to see! Is it Oscar nomination worthy for best picture? Yes. Will it win? No, however, it is a good movie and Jackie Robinson was great!

Debate: Should College Athletes get PAID???

bob stoops

Should college athletes get paid for what they do on the field and on the court for their schools?  Well on Wednesday, April 10, 2013, the age old topic of paying collegiate players surfaced again in an article on The Sporting News’ website.  In the article, University of Oklahoma’s football coach Bob Stoops had made comments in regards to players getting more than what they already receive in scholarships (Stoop later clarified those comments).

Coach Stoops, whether you agree with his comments or not, does make valid points on what players currently receive in scholarships.  I want to hear from you.  What are your comments on the topic of giving college athletes stipends as part of their scholarship?  Read the articles and feel free to leave your comments here

bama

WrestleMania 29 Review

A WrestleMania 29 Review from Jon North

wwewrestlemania29wallpaper_cominghome_1024

Reviewing Rasslin’
WRESTLEMANIA 29
By: Jon North (@JNorth0)
Pre-Review -Preshow.

I guess since The Miz and Wade Barrett kicked off WrestleMania on the pre-show, the only logical thing for me to do would be to write a pre-review, over the pre-show. To be honest I didn’t watch this match. Poor Miz main evented this same event just two years ago and his fall from grace has put him in the main event of a pre-show that 100 people watch and 50 actually pay attention to. I’ve never really been a big Wade Barrett guy, his move-set and persona bores me, and I’m an easy wrestling fan to please. I enjoy Miz, but don’t enjoy his new figure-four leg lock, I love the idea behind it, but no just no (and yes I’m bitter because he botched it that ONE time). Regardless, Miz goes over and becomes the new intercontential champion, which ultimately means he now has to lose to Randy Orton every RAW.

The SHIELD vs. Sheamus/Randy Orton/Big Show
Very pleased this match kicked off the show, partly because I was wondering if the Shield was going to drop out of a helicopter or actually hike themselves all the way from the top of MetLife Stadium down to the ring because they usually enter through the crowd. The Shield made up of Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins have been nothing short of dominate since their WWE debut, so it was interesting to see how this “all-star” team of Sheamus, Orton, and Show would handle the trio. A lot of storytelling during this match took place which I personally loved. Orton, Show, and Sheamus were very dysfunctional and they all had a “do it myself” mentality, while the Shield worked together as a team the whole time. The Shield isolated Big Show for most of the match, with a couple of great spots with Sheamus working Ambrose on the outside and making the hot tag after Show was tagged out. There was some tension between Show and Orton when he got tagged in. Orton hit the top rope, hung DDT on Ambrose, hits Rollins with an RKO as Rollins leaps off the top rope but he is nailed by Reigns with a spear as Ambrose covers as Big Show just watches on and doesn’t make an attempt to save.
Winners: The Shield
The Shield split the same way they came in, through the crowd and Show delivered two knockout punches to both Sheamus and Orton. Overall, it was a great opener, and for once the World Heavyweight Championship didn’t start off the show. This was one of my favorite matches on the card, probably third on my list and the WWE (surprisingly) kept the continuity of The Shield working so solid as a three man team. The triple powerbomb/spear on Ambrose spot from Big Show was also awesome. I’m interested to see where The Shield goes from here, or what random three superstars the trio will face at Extreme Rules.

Mark Henry vs. Ryback
The World’s Strongest Man vs. Big Hungry, or “feed me more” guy or whatever the WWE wants you to call Ryback. Despite the short buildup for this match, it was well done and a lot of fans were anxious to see if Ryback could actually lift up Mark Henry on his shoulders (I didn’t think it was possible) the match was typical and what you would expect from these two heavyweight guys. Mark Henry is a great talent, but I just don’t think he works well with guys like Ryback, so the fans weren’t into this match and I cannot say I blame them. There were a lot of pushes and tests of strength, with Henry dominating most of the match. The two traded some sick clothesline spots which were worth noting, and Henry throwing Ryback around like a rag doll was very fun to watch. In an odd ending, Ryback lifted Henry up and the camera shot of Henry’s face is priceless. Regardless Henry holds onto the rope and collapses on top of Ryback and rolls him over for the pin. Ryback saves face after the match and hits Henry with a shell shocked.
Winner: Mark Henry
This feud isn’t over, I can foresee a rematch at Extreme Rules, but these guys have done just about all they can do in a match. Some of my favorite Henry matches are with smaller guys such as Punk and Daniel Bryan. He just doesn’t work well with Ryback, but it was okay for what it was. Ryback is on a bit of a losing streak, but is still pretty over with the fans, but I did not foresee the WWE putting over Henry in this match, who doesn’t really need the push, but was happy he won.  THAT’S WHAT I DO.

WWE Tag Team Championship: Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston vs. Team “Hell No” Kane and Daniel Bryan
My second favorite match on the card by far. It felt like a RAW match with the time constraints (something you’ll see me type a little bit later) but with the people involved, it followed very well and had a little something special in it with two very underappreciated guys in Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler. If you didn’t see the opening spot, I suggest going back to watch as they had a play on the “18 seconds” loss for Daniel Bryan last year, who lost the World Heavyweight Championship in 18 seconds to Sheamus. Ziggler told Bryan to hold on a second while he planted AJ with a kiss, Daniel Bryan kicked Ziggler in the head for a two count, and it was great. Big E Langston was very impressive in this match, while I’ve seen him in NXT (WWE’s developmental brand) I thoroughly enjoyed watching him toss Kane around the ring like a rag doll and dominate most of the match. The ending featured Dolph, while the legal man trying to hit Kane with the Money in the Bank briefcase and Kane ducked and hit Dolph with a choke slam, who tagged in Bryan who hit Dolph with a flying head-butt for the win.
Winner: Team Hell No
In reality the only people Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler have pinned in the last few months it seems like has been each other, in a perfect world I like to think these guys are just single handedly keeping the Internet happy by pinning one another. Regardless, even with eight minutes this match killed it, Bryan led some “YES” chants as his music played afterward and got one of the best crowd reactions of the evening.  One of the better spots in the match was Big E hitting Kane with multiple back-breakers without dropping Kane, I’m anxious to see how they move forward with the big guy.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
This may have been the lock of WrestleMania, the WWE have put so much time and effort into building this Fandango character he was destined to go over, plus Jericho has been the King of making people look good and putting them over as legitimate threats so much he only wins when he’s facing Ziggler, Bryan, or Cesaro (because HAHA internet). This was a very fast paced match with a lot of counters and really proved Fandango can go. The match itself had a lot of great storytelling with Jericho the “favorite” throwing everything at Fandango but Fandango holding on, Jericho got all of his signatures in, a Code breaker sent Fandango to the outside early, and several Walls of Jericho attempts. Jericho sold a knee injury late in the match on a missed Lion Sault attempt, and when Jericho, after kicking out of several of Fandango’s flying leg drop attempts, went to lock it on, the knee gave way and allowed Fandango to get a sloppy, but quick roll up for the 1-2-3.
Winner: Fandango
Jericho will probably take another hiatus from the WWE with the selling of the knee injury, but Fandango got what he needed out of this match and he gets a win over Chris Jericho. It’s going to be very interesting where the WWE goes with Fandango from here, he got a lot of heat from the crowd last night and it was good heat. I’m invested in this character so he’ll probably end up losing to Randy Orton every week from here on out or something. In my booking world Chris Jericho is going through his mid-life crisis of wrestling where he’s turned into this guy who needs to beat all these younger guys to prove he’s still as good as he once was, but he doesn’t have the booking power of Triple H to make him look like the coolest guy in the room. Regardless, Jericho has been here before, he’s been underused and overlooked in his past when he was a young guy and no guy was willing to do the job for him, so good for him for stepping into that role, just stop with the Fandango word plays, they aren’t funny.
Diddy’s concert played after this match. Also, between each match a promo plays for The Rock vs. John Cena. You aren’t missing anything.

World Heavyweight Title: Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger
We come back from another promo to see Jack Swagger gets a non-entrance at WrestleMania. I’m not sure if WWE thought maybe the crowd would actually cheer Jack Swagger too loudly so they just skipped his entrance or because of time constraints, regardless the match really just felt like a RAW match to me, even though it was very good between two of the best wrestlers on the roster. Also, if you were at the event live you would have got to see Jack Swagger ride in on a jeep, which would have been awesome to see because wrestlers and vehicles have a pretty good track record with me. Regardless, a lot of technical wrestling between these two as one would expect, Del Rio had some awesome counters out of the ankle lock that didn’t look spammed or faked, it looked as real as a guy could trying to worm his way out of an ankle lock. I read on the internet this match got cut short, so maybe that’s why it felt a little rushed, but Del Rio wins this one by a couple of neat reverses and then swinging Jack Swagger into his cross arm breaker which was AWESOME and out of nowhere.
Winner: Albertoooooooooo Del RIOOOOOOOOOOOO (Ricardo voice)
After the match Del Rio celebrated, I really wish the crowd would not have chanted “WE WANT ZIGGER” over and over, it kind of took away from how good the match is. I’m totally all in on Del Rio as a face and “living his dream” with the World Heavyweight Championship. It works really well and comes across well on television, this whole Del Rio as face is where the WWE probably thought Miz should have gone, but didn’t. Plus Alberto has a ring announcer, that’s probably the difference.

Wrestlemania-29-The-Undertaker 21-0

CM Punk vs. The Undertaker
There is A LOT to write about this match action wise as it was one of the most fast paced matches of the night. I will say if I had to suggest watching one match on the card, it would be this one. CM Punk had “Cult of Personality” played live by Living Colour, which was cool to see but man, Undertaker’s entrance was simply amazing. It was a back drop with the living dead reaching up and trying to touch Undertaker, I would like to think of it as a play on all the people he’s beaten in the past at Mania. Regardless, one of the COOLEST moments for WrestleMania for me, and got me jacked was the close up on CM Punk during the initial “GONG” of undertaker’s music. He just screamed and pounded his chest as if to say “BRING IT ON” I loved this moment and it got me ready for the match. Also, add Paul Heyman yelling out instructions to Punk as he wrestled was a great touch.
The match itself was well done, like I said, a lot of action, too much for me to explain, but Punk played smart with Taker early, taunting him and then running from him, making him give chase and then waylaying him. Big fan of this, but Punk played the heel role brilliantly, he even got in Taker’s classic “Old School” move where Taker ties up the arm and scales and balances the top rope. Punk taunted, and put on a glorious performance only Punk can do. I was not a fan of the no selling of Undertaker, although really cool. He no sold the Anaconda Vice into his classic “sit up, death stare” taunt and no sold the GTS into his finisher, Punk sold the move by shaking his head violently before he went down to the piledriver, as if he knew it was over.
Winner: The Undertaker
This was by far the match of the night, I could have ended Mania here and been very pleased, because the next two matches will not be very positive, but Taker was coming off of surgery and Punk is as banged up as anyone on the roster and still went out and put on an absolute show. There was a sick spot where Punk hit the Macho Man elbow drop off the top turnbuckle onto the Spanish announcer’s table, but the table didn’t break and Punk looked like he may have hurt his knee, none the less a fantastic spot. Favorite match of the night.

lesnar vs hhh

Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
I’ll just get this out of the way now, I’m not a big fan of Triple H, and I’m not a big fan of the way the WWE has handled Brock Lesnar up until this point. I know Lesnar probably doesn’t care, he’s in this thing for a pay check, but since Brock has been back he’s lost to John Cena, and drew with Triple H, making him 1-2 since his WWE return. Records don’t matter as much as they used to, but still I’d love for them to have built him up to something special. Triple H I can tolerate as a wrestler, he does well, or good enough but he always has to be the coolest, savviest, guy in the room. He’s buried people I liked throughout his career and I’m just not a fan of the way he works. Regardless, this match was a classic brawl. Reports on the internet say Brock took a knee early and was knocked out on his feet five minutes into the match so a lot of headlocks and arm bars early, they got to some good spots late, a few chair shots. No blood, which I was expecting and it ended with Triple H trying to beat Brock with his own Kimara lock before pedigreeing Brock on some stairs to beat him. Not a surprise.
Winner: Triple H
Crowd was sort of down for this match, which took away from it because I do want to give credit where it’s due, it was a fine brawl type match, but you can’t follow something like this match with the Taker/Punk match. I figured the WWE would throw in the mixed tag match they had advertised here, but it got bumped, probably because they had 16,000 Rock vs. John Cena promos.

Speaking of..

rock vs cena

WWE Championship: The Rock vs. John Cena
Nothing special entrance wise for this match which really surprised me, John just did his talk to the camera man thing at the top of the ramp and waddled down the ramp, very simple, and so was the match. If you remember last year, nothing special really happened during the match, a lot of arm bars and head locks, a lot of time for The Rock to catch his breath. Whether it’s a work or not, reports came out The Rock tore his abdominal muscle straight from the bone during this match and wrestled for another 15 minutes. I’m not sure if this is true or a work because of how non entertaining the match was, plus after three straight matches with the star power, the crowd wasn’t very into this one either. It started off pretty slow. It didn’t really keep me “hooked” but it kept me interested with all the false finishers, but it had been done before; these two guys are basically the same wrestler. The Rock is past his prime and can’t go like he used to, and Cena has always been, well, Cena. Cena wins this one with an AA after about four counters into the Rock Bottom and the AA, nothing special, but the end was a lot better than the start of the match and if it’s true about Rock, he’s a trooper.
Winner and new WWE Champion: John Cena
Overall, the first half of Mania I thought was a really fun show, I was bummed to see Ziggler not cash in and get his WrestleMania moment, and even though I did not think I would, I really missed some of the backstage segments, instead all we got was Rock and Cena commercials, where I really thought something special was going to happen between them. Instead we got them chatting it up and raising one another’s hands in the ring and hugging. Boo sportsmanship. I was hoping for a Cena heel turn, but WWE has teased it so much at this point they’ll never do it. I don’t blame them but that’s a different story for a different time.

Until next time, happy Rrasslin.

www.wwe.com

Favorite 30 for 30 Film

My favorite ESPN 30 for 30 Films is the Pony Excess.  It was the story of Southern Methodist University (SMU) of the early 1980’s.  Repeated offenses by the football program while on NCAA Probation lead to what we now know as the infamous “Death Penalty”, meaning no football at SMU for 2 years beginning in 1987.  Here we are now in 2013 and the program, under head coach Jim Jones, has finally come back to some respectability.  None the less, the SMU Football Program has never fully recovered from the Death Penalty after close to 26 years later.

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What is your favorite 30 for 30 Film?  Please leave a reply.

Sports and Movies with Richie Faison

Transcript from Richie Faison’s interview for our Sports and the Movies episode of our 3 part series The Athletic Business that ran from December 1st thru December 15th of 2012.

richieRichie Faison

Why do sports not always translate to the big screen? 

The sports film, along with horror and romantic comedy, is one of my least favorite types of movie.  When I watch a movie, I like to be surprised.  These genres have one thing in common – they are rarely surprising and follow the same tired formulas from movie to movie.  The ironic thing is that one of the elements that make sports so popular is that they rarely predictable and are almost always surprising in some way.  Even the so called experts don’t know what will happen from game to game and are doing well when they can predict winners two thirds of the time.

In the case of the sports movie, the formula means that we will generally meet an underdog (many times a true life athlete/team) who will eventually rise above their current set of circumstances and do something great.  They will most likely have a coach/mentor who also has to overcome challenges but will eventually show flashes of brilliance to help the athlete achieve their goal.  There will be an opposing force, generally seen as a villain, who will attempt to stop/triumph over our hero.  There will be disappointment along the way but they will triumph in the end.  This formula, even when done well in examples like Hoosiers, leaves little room for surprise.

The formulas/themes of the sports film is one of the things that keep some coming back for more when it comes to box office.  The problem is that it also limits the audience.  Many people, like myself, know what they will be getting before seeing the movie so why bother.  Others are not sports fans so they think the movie will not appeal to them.  The best sports movies overcome one of these hurdles but rarely both.

What in your mind, or what are you looking for when it comes to a successful sports movie (you can give examples)?

The best sports films tweak these formulas (Rocky doesn’t win in the end), throws us a curveball (Million Dollar Baby) or throws out the formula altogether (Field of Dreams).  They surprise us as well as exhilarate us.  They make us care for real or imagined characters not based on plot device but on real emotion.  They teach us about people or events we knew little about but should have (Cinderella Man, A League of Their Own).  They show us a side of sports that we are vaguely familiar with but didn’t really know or want to know (The Wrestler, Jerry McGuire).

What are your top 10 sports movies (listed from 1-10) to date and explain why they made your list? (storyline, writing, directing, acting, etc.)

field_of_dreams

Field of Dreams (1989) – Not just my favorite sports movie but one of my Top 50 favorites of any genre.  James Earl Jones has a wonderful speech about how important baseball is to our lives however; it is the father and son theme that really makes the movie.  The mystical, otherworldly feel of the film makes it stand out from almost any other film ever made.  It is truly one of a kind.

milliondollarbaby

Million Dollar Baby (2004) – The story starts out as a character study of a man (Clint Eastwood) who has lived and breathed boxing his entire life and a small-town woman (Hillary Swank) who wants to prove that she has what it takes.  It turns into a movie about larger themes of life and death.  The relationship between Swank’s Maggie and Eastwood’s Frankie is one of the best in sports films.  Throw in Morgan Freeman’s Eddie and you have a special cast.  Sports films rarely surprise me but the last third of this film most definitely did so.  One of only three sports films to win the Oscar for Best Picture along with Rocky and Chariots of Fire.

cinderella_man

Cinderella Man (2005) –This one has all of the elements familiar to these types of films (underdog story, overcoming hardships, etc.) but what sets it apart from the others is its portrayal of The Great Depression.  The boxing moments are excellent but Ron Howard’s depiction of how hard times really were during this time in American history and Russell Crowe’s fierce depiction of James Braddock make this one a great sports flick.

Raging-Bull_1

Raging Bull (1980) – Three in a row for boxing.  This one has two elements that no other sports film can boast; Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese.  These two are always incredible together and that is certainly the case here.  De Niro won an Oscar for his fierce portrayal of Jake Lamotta, a violent man in and out of the ring.  Raging Bull would have been a classic whether it was about boxing or a man in any violent profession.  It was all about the character; the sport was secondary.  With that being said, Scorsese filmed what are still the most brutal and true-to-life boxing scenes ever shown on the big screen.

jerry_maguire

Jerry Maguire (1996) – A great sports film with very little sports in it.  Jerry Maguire is so memorable because of the romance and the “show me the money” particulars of athletes and their agents.  We rarely see the behind the scenes goings on of the financial aspects of sports and what agents actually do.  This film gives us that and so much more.  It also contains some of the most memorable catchphrases from any sports flick, or any other genre for that matter.

hoosiers

Hoosiers (1986) – Hoosiers has all of the major sports movie themes/clichés – an underdog, the down on his luck coach who changes the life/lives of the athletes, David versus Goliath, a true life tale, a redemption story, etc.  What makes it magical is how it is all portrayed.  The performances, especially Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper, make you really care for these people.  It portrays them as individuals and not just characters moving the plot forward.  As usual, we are rooting for the underdog to pull through and this time, it is more than just because we are supposed to do so; we really do care.

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Rocky
(1976) – I realize that this is the fourth boxing movie in the top seven.  What can I say; boxing really does make a great theme for a movie.  I am not even that big of a boxing fan but when it works, it works.  What sets this one apart from the others is not only the music, which is the best of any film on this list and really gives the movie its’ exhilarating feel, but another character that we like and can relate to on many levels.   Rocky
may not be the smartest guy around but he makes up for it in determination and loyalty.  This is one of the very few sports films that was a megahit (it was the highest grossing film of 1976).  Also, the director, John Avildsen, really knows how to make a great sports film – he also directed The Karate Kid which narrowly missed my Top 10.

17-A-League-of-Their-Own

A League of Their Own (1992) – This one gave us a topic that few people really knew much about – female professional baseball.  It was this novelty that sets this one apart along with its’ secret weapon – Tom Hanks.  Hanks was a revelation here and previewed his immense talent before winning back-to-back Oscars for Philadelphia and Forest Gump in 1993 and 1994.  The look inside what made this team and league tick was fascinating.  I love when a film can both entertain and educate me at the same time.  This one did both in equal measures.

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The Wrestler (2008) – This one delves into the dark side of sports – what happens when the body breaks down but the athlete cannot give up the fame and thrill of his profession.  This alone makes The Wrestler different from most sports movies but what truly sets this one apart was Mickey Rourke who was simply phenomenal here and should have won the Oscar for Best Actor (Sean Penn won as Harvey Milk).



Major League (1989) – The only true comedy on my list is by far the most fun.  Major League may not be the same caliber of film as the others on my list but, it is special all the same.  Others might go with Caddyshack here but this one just does it for me more than that one.  First off, who wouldn’t want to see the Cleveland Indians do well back when they were terrible. Second, the film put together one of the most dysfunctional groups of individual athletes ever seen in a sports film and each of them were great.  Finally, and most importantly, Bob Ueker plays the best baseball announcer of all-time.  Enough said.

Jim Valvano Quote

I am watching the ESPN 30 for 30 film Survive and Advance on the 1983 North Carolina State Basketball Team’s NCAA Title run.  It reminds me of one of Jimmy V’s famous quotes.  Here it is….

To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.

Jim Valvano at the 1993 ESPY awards

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