Is there anything more motivating than a great sports movie?
When I was a kid, I remember watching Chariots of Fire and wanting to go run around the block as fast as I could. I also recall watching Hoosiers and The Karate Kid and always rooting for the underdog (and saying Wax On, Wax Off until my mom’s ears bled.)
There is something about a great sports story that can inspire us and want us to be better–which is a great reason why it’s a great way to connect with your teen.
So, when you feel like your teen doesn’t want to talk to you or you can’t get them out of their room, cook up some popcorn, grab their favorite snacks, and ask them which one of these sports movies they want to watch.
If you get a high-five or a hug at the end, even better.
Twenty of Our Favorite, Most Inspirational Sports Movies to Watch With Your Teen
Here are some of our favorite teen-approved movies that will make you want to stand up and cheer.
This one got us totally choked up (thanks, Disney.) This inspired by real-life story is about a down-on-his-luck football coach (Kevin Costner) who has to move his family to a small migrant town because it’s the only job he can get. He notices some hidden talents amongst his students and starts the school’s first cross-country team.
“Do you believe in Miracles????”Kurt Russell leads a fantastic cast in a chance to relive one of the greatest moments in U.S. Olympic history, when a player-turned-coach leads a group of college kids to the gold medal by focusing on building the best team, not building up individual players. You will be quoting this movie for weeks.
Academy Award nominee Samuel L. Jackson stars in the inspiring true story of controversial high school basketball coach Ken Carter, who benched his entire undefeated team for poor academic performance to teach his players the importance of education.
17-year-old Michael Oher was denied a stable upbringing and devoid of an education. As he was one-step away from falling into a different life, Leigh Anne Tuohy and her family take him into their home. Tuohy taps into the best of Oher and unearths a football star, but he must overcome some obstacles first. Bullock’s Oscar-winning turn will touch your heart.
A League of Their Own
In 1943, with the ranks of professional baseball depleted by players going off to war the minor leagues were closing down, and some feared that major league baseball might do the same. Thus was born the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. A League of Their Own is a comic look at the true story of these amazing young women who left their homes to become part of the league and revel in a skill they might once have been ashamed of, and made history in the process.
When we were growing up, it was all about Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, but this biopic about “The Champ” will inspire your whole family. Will Smith puts on the gloves and steps between the ropes as Muhammad Ali, arguably the most fascinating personality in sports history.
An Oscar™-nominated film and one of the most widely discussed and well-received documentaries of all time, Hoop Dreams chronicles the universal process of growing up, coming of age, the love and conflict between fathers and sons, brothers, best friends and spouses. Hoop Dreams tells the remarkable true story of two American dreamers plucked from poverty and given the opportunity to attend a suburban prep school and play for a legendary high school basketball coach. These two young men soon discover how easily their dreams of basketball glory can become obscured amid the intense pressures of academics, family life, economics and athletic competitiveness. But in the end, both boys fight to remain focused on their dream, no matter how hard tragedy strikes or how desperate their situation becomes.
A true story of Arkansa Razorbacks walk-on offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth. Devoutly Christian and ridiculed for his portly appearance, Burlsworth defies the odds to make the Razorbacks squad and become the greatest walk-on story of all time–and he did it his way.
One of the most inspirational stories of all time about believing in your dreams, Rudy will make your whole family stand up and cheer. All Rudy Ruettiger wants in life is to play football for his beloved Notre Dame. Unfortunately, Rudy is no athlete, his academic record is spotty, and his family can’t afford to send him to college. But Rudy has an abundance of two things: heart and hope and he ultimately overcomes the odds.
With the retirement of Serena Williams this year, King Richard is great for family movie night. Based on the true story, “King Richard” follows the journey of Richard Williams, an undeterred father instrumental in raising two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time, who changed the sport of tennis forever. Driven by a clear vision of their future and using unconventional methods, Richard has a plan that will take Venus and Serena Williams from the streets of Compton, California to the global stage as legendary icons. “King Richard” is a profoundly moving film that shows the power of family, perseverance, and unwavering belief as a means to achieve the impossible and impact the world.
Soul Surfer is the inspiring true story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack and courageously overcame all odds to become a champion again, through the love of her family, her sheer determination and unwavering faith. The film features an all-star cast that will give you all the feels.
More geared to an older audience, this movie highlights the story of Vince Papali, a 30-something Philadelphia native who wins a spot playing for the Eagles–and gives the team new, much-needed heart. This movie combines nostalgia, grit, and Mark Wahlberg.
This real-life story is based on Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), who defied conventional wisdom and even his own scouts by fielding a baseball team of castoffs who went on to enjoy one of the most unlikely winning streaks in the history of professional sports.
Remember the Titans:
Based on the true story of how one African American coach broke down racial barriers on a high school football team to bring together a newly integrated school in Alexandria, Virginia. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll want to hit the field for Friday Night Lights in small-town America.
Eddie the Eagle:
Inspired by true events, Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards is an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stops believing in himself even as an entire nation counted him out.
In Disney’s drama “Million Dollar Arm,” the fate of JB Bernstein’s career as a sports agent rests with finding an exceptionally gifted young cricket pitcher in India, who can be trained for an American major league baseball team.
Follow the life of famous 1970s runner Steve Prefontaine from his youth days in Oregon to Oregon University — where he worked with the legendary coach Bill Bowerman — later, to the Olympics in Munich and his early death at 24 in a car crash.
From director Clint Eastwood, Invictus tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) joined forces with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team, Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa’s underdog rugby team as they make an unlikely run to the 1995 World Cup Championship match. This shows how a team can transcend sports and impact an entire nation.
Haunted by a tragic past, Marine Tommy Conlon (Hardy) returns home for the first time in fourteen years to enlist the help of his father (Nick Nolte) to train for SPARTA, the biggest winner-takes-all event in mixed martial arts history. A former wrestling prodigy, Tommy blazes a path toward the championship while his brother, Brendan (Edgerton), an ex-fighter-turned teacher, returns to the ring in a desperate bid to save his family from financial ruin. But when Brendan’s unlikely, underdog rise sets him on a collision course with the unstoppable Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront each other and the forces that pulled them apart, facing off in the most soaring, soul stirring, and unforgettable climax that must be seen to be believed.
This may not be your teen’s favorite, but it is such a classic inspirational sports movie that you should try to get your family to watch it. This highly-acclaimed winner of five Emmy Awards is one of the best-loved movies ever made for television. It’s the true story of a special relationship between two professional football players, Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and Brian Piccolo (James Caan). Both star players for the Chicago Bears, Sayers and Piccolo soon became roommates and best friends. When Sayers suffers a knee injury in mid-season, it is Piccolo who prods and inspires him to work toward a complete recovery. Then fate deals a cruel blow: Piccolo is stricken with malignant cancer. The constant support and friendship of Sayers plays an important role in Piccolo’s heroic fight against the disease. Also starring Shelley Fabares (TV’s Coach) as Piccolo’s loving wife, BRIAN’S SONG is a moving and unforgettable film.
11 Bonus Sports Classics
The Sandlot: When fifth-grader Scotty Smalls moves with his parents to a new town, he strikes out with the neighborhood kids, especially at baseball. But soon, Scotty embarks on a magical summer of first kisses, hilarious adventures and encounters with the scary “beast” behind the left field fence. Co-starring Karen Allen, Denis Leary and James Earl Jones, The Sandlot is major-league fun for the whole family!
Friday Night Lights: Billy Bob Thornton stars in this stand-up-and-cheer true American story of how one legendary Texas town made hope come alive under the exhilarating glare of Friday Nigh
The Cutting Edge: an oldie but a goodie. Action and romance are combined when a self-centered ex-hockey star and a spoiled, prima donna figure skater become unlikely partners in pursuit of Olympic gold.
Rocky: As boxer “everyman” Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone comes out swinging with heart, humor, and unforgettable power as he “goes the distance” against World Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in this unforgettable, Oscar®- winning film. The entire franchise is a great winter weekend watch!
Seabiscuit: Seabiscuit is based on the inspiring true story of three men a jockey, a trainer and a businessman and the undersized racehorse who took the entire nation on the ride of a lifetime.
The Natural: An unknown, Roy Hobbs, comes out of seemingly nowhere to become a legendary player with almost divine talent.
Hoosiers: A tale of redemption, Hoosiers tells the true story of a group of underdogs who become champions. Set in the 1950s, Hoosiers is about a hard-luck, unemployed college basketball coach (Gene Hackman) who gets a chance to coach a small-town Indiana high-school basketball team.
Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” An Iowa corn farmer (Kevin Costner) hears voices and interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields. When he does, the Chicago “Black Sox” come back to play.
The Karate Kid: “Wax on, wax off.” A martial arts master agrees to teach karate to a bullied teenager. A fun franchise where you can watch the movies from the 80s and then the modern-day version.
Glory Road: In 1966, Texas Western coach Don Haskins led the first all-black starting line-up for a college basketball team to the NCAA national championship.
Bend It Like Beckham: Two ambitious girls from different backgrounds have their hearts set on careers in professional soccer,, despite their parents’ wishes.
P.S. Are you looking to have a better relationship with your teen? We love this book, Parenting Teens with Love and Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood, by Jim Fay.
Are you in the thick of raising your tweens and teens? You may like this book by Whitney Fleming, the co-owner of Parenting Teens & Tweens: Loving Hard When They’re Hard to Love: Essays about Raising Teens in Today’s Complex, Chaotic World.
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