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These Inspiring Sports Movies Will Surely Lift Your Mood

 The coronavirus lockdown has brought the sporting world to a complete standstill. For more than two months now, we haven’t seen any live-action sporting events as most of them have either been canceled or pushed back indefinitely. This has been a major blow for sports lovers and as the current pandemic continues to spread, they desperately crave some sort of sporting entertainment.

There is hope that things will eventually get back to some normalcy and we will get to witness our favorite sports soon. For now, though, what would be better than immersing yourself in some of the most inspiring sports films out there? The list below includes some known and some underrated gems from the genre that you can watch from the comfort of your home. Some of them are based on real-life stories while some are works of fiction. These uplifting sports stories won’t just help you get your mind off the gloom and doom of coronavirus, but will also help ease the cravings of sports fans until things get back to normal.

1. Chariots of Fire (1981)

This Academy Award-winning film is the moving true story of two Olympic runners from Great Britain — Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), and Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross). One is Jewish, and the other is a devout Christian. Both must balance their running talents with their beliefs in the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s.

The two young runners are determined to bring glory to their country in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Abrahams is a student at Cambridge who feels singled out because of the often casual anti-semitism of the people around him. Eric Liddell, meanwhile, is a Scottish Christian who views running as part of his worship of God's glory. The film juxtaposes various sensitive themes and yet culminates in one of the most inspirational endings of all time.

In fact, 'Chariots of Fire' is fondly remembered for its momentous running-on-the-beach scene with the Vangelis song playing in the background. That uplifting musical number earned the film the Oscar for Best Original Score and is enough to elevate your spirits like very few things can.  

2. Rudy (1993)

You will find very few better underdog sports movies than this one. The film is based on the true story of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger whose dream was to play football at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. However, Rudy (played brilliantly by Sean Astin) didn’t have sufficient money for tuition nor the grades to qualify for a scholarship.

What makes things even more difficult is that Rudy is undersized to play football and is also considered a talentless wannabe by most around him. Furthermore, he is also dyslexic which doesn't make things any easier for him. He’s always told that his dreams are foolish and impossible. However, Rudy trusts in his dream and redoubles his efforts to achieve his goal. How the tenacious fighter battles his way onto the school's famous football team is what forms the rest of this captivating tale.

3. A League of Their Own (1992)

This is the story of how America’s first professional all-female baseball league took shape in the 1940s when the country’s stock of male athletes was depleted during World War II. That story is told from the viewpoint of two sisters, Kit and Dottie, (Lori Petty and Geena Davis), who constantly spar with each other at home but somehow find themselves participating in the baseball league. Along the way, they come across other girls with eccentric personalities and issues of their own.

The girls are managed by a grumpy has-been coach Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) who, despite his oddities, shows the girls the value of teamwork and trust. Eventually, this journey opens up a whole new world for the two sisters along with their team-mates and helps them discover themselves.

4. Remember the Titans (2000)

A powerful, inspirational film, 'Remember the Titans' is much more than a story about a high school football team. Yes, football is the obvious backdrop of this classic. However, there are additional layers to the movie and its true inspiration is Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), an African-American who is appointed as the new coach of a high school team in Virginia in the early 1970s. It is a time when high school football is a way of life and is revered by all. Then, in 1971, Boone is given the responsibility of heading a racially-integrated team for the first time. Through various ups and downs, the players and the coach unite to come together for a common purpose.

Based on the actual events of 1971, 'Remember the Titans' is an incredibly powerful and moving film and Denzel Washington’s brilliant performance takes it to another level.

5. Seabiscuit (2003)

Based on the best-selling book of the same name by Laura Hillenbrand, ‘Seabiscuit’ tells the true story of the undersized Depression-era racehorse whose incredible victories not only lifted the spirits of the team behind it but also managed to raise the mood of the country when it badly needed something to cheer for. 

Seabiscuit was a small, lazy, and volatile horse. However, his life changes after he meets three men - jockey Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), owner Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges), and trainer Tom Smith (Chris Cooper). The three men help shape the temperamental horse into the best-loved sports legend of the 1930s. The movie's races are thrilling to watch but at its heart is the horse and his odd yet fascinating relationship with the trio of men who find meaning in their own life from the beautiful animal.

6. Diego Maradona (2019)

Diego Maradona’s name is synonymous with football’s rich history. After all, he is considered one of the greatest ever megastars of the sport. This documentary film, made by Oscar Award-winning documentarian Asif Kapadia, focuses on the playing career of Maradona until the mid-90s and is constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage.

We see Maradona’s rousing journey from his boyhood days in the shantytown of Villa Fiorito to how he achieved superstardom by making near-miraculous goals. The Argentinean footballer had a complex personality and led a tragic life. The film tries to shed light on Maradona the man and Maradona the footballer which makes for an engrossing watch. If not for anything else, the film must be enjoyed to see the legendary footballer in action at his peak and how he went on to become a cultural icon.

7. Soul Surfer (2011)

This is the real-life story of 13-year-old Bethany Hamilton - the promising teenage surfer who loses her arm during a shark attack. The spirited and gifted teen didn’t let that bog her down and, with the help of her family, decides to return to competition. As questions about her future begin to trouble her, Bethany is moved by the devastation in Thailand caused by the 2004 tsunami.

This gives the young girl’s life added purpose and she then wants to make a difference in the lives of others while also refusing to give up on their passion. We then follow the inspirational and uplifting journey of Bethany who overcomes all odds to become a champion again through her single-minded devotion and her unwavering love for her sport.

8. Coach Carter (2005)

You might have seen plenty of movies about weird, eccentric, or tough coaches shepherding a team of oddballs. This one, though, is quite unique. Coach Carter recounts the true story of a defiant coach, Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson), who has been given the job of getting a high school basketball team into shape. Initially, through his strict rules and academic discipline, the coach transforms the team into an undefeated powerhouse and gets them on an incredible winning streak.

However, the players soon begin flunking classes and take their studies for granted. To counter this, Carter locks them out of the gym and shuts down their championship season. The players and their parents turn against the coach and he receives plenty of flak. But Carter holds his ground defiantly and ultimately makes his students excel in class as well as on the court.

The movie isn’t a classic and didn’t win any noted awards. However, it is unusual in its ways with an inspiring story at heart. The film teaches youngsters to be respectful individuals on and off the court, but instead of being preachy it is a fun and at times exciting ride.

Cover Image: YouTube

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