3 Sports’ Movies That Made Me Improve And Grow

Even if you don’t appreciate it sports’ stories will motivate and inspire you during trying times in life

Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.
5 min readMar 29, 2021

Most people would say Rocky is their favorite sports movie but I`m not one of them.

Don’t get me wrong I do like it a lot but it’s not my favorite. Partially that’s probably because I’m not a huge fan of Sylvester Stallone.

As my old school teacher said of him when I was about 14 years of age:

“That Stallone, he’s not an actor sure he talks out of one side of his mouth!”

Although I had seen the movie at that time I knew there was something about Stallone that I wasn’t sold on, and ever since my teacher said that and his words drew a big laugh from all the other lads in the classroom I`ve agreed with him.

After all the first sporting movie that had a big impression on me came when I was half that age.

Karate Kid was all about a teenage boy who never fitted in and was being bullied.

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Watching it alone and imagining that I was eventually a few years older, I admired how Daniel LaRusso learned a new martial art, integrated into a new high school and city, and became champion when no one expected him to be.

But most of all I loved the relationship he built with his mentor Mr. Miyagi and the wisdom the older man shared with him on how to win and better again, how to conduct himself as a young man.

But it wasn’t a true story and so I wasn’t hooked on its message either.

Years later though another true story of an underdog in sport captured my imagination.

Now that I was around the age of Daniel LaRusso in real life my mind was seeking something more inspirational.

Keeping an eye on the new releases in my local video store I came across something that was right up my street. As I was obsessed with sport and playing with nearly 10 teams at the time when I noticed a movie about American Football I was completely sold.

Rudy as it was entitled was all about an underdog player named Daniel Eugene “Rudy” Ruettiger who dreamt of playing for the famous Notre Dame team. However, he wasn’t the biggest of players and lacked any notable physical attributes that would push him to the top of the team list. As well as that his grades were not what they should have been. But none of this mattered to Rudy because when his best friend Pete died in a mill explosion , Rudy decided to pursue his dream and play with the famed Notre Dame team.

But Rudy lost more than his best friend in his pursuit to gain his place on the Notre Dame team.

Starting homeless he eventually befriended one of the teaching assistants and trades his skill of being good at socializing with girls in return for being tutored for his academic exams. As it turned out Rudy had dyslexia and upon knowing that he was taught differently and this led him to get his grades up after a whole lot of hard work.

Then though he lost his fiancé to his brother and Rudy’s dream was tested to the core.

Yet he persisted with it and never gave up.

Photo by Muyuan Ma on Unsplash

Rudy’s determination throughout the movie is to be admired. He is left isolated and disappointed on more than one occasion. Others around him give up on him and mock him.

He even gives up on himself at times, but his enthusiasm to keep on trying had rubbed off on other players and this is what helped him achieve his goal in the end.

It’s an incredibly heartwarming tale and one that had a big impression on me when I was growing up.

But Rudy is still not my favorite sports movie.

Because once I watched it at that age I was motivated to keep on improving at my sports and I was also keen to seek out more movies, and documentaries on how to improve.

A few years later that’s when Remember the Titan’s captured my imagination.

As I was now an adult and playing at the top level of my team sport in my region, I too still had big challenges as a young player to overcome. And the Denzel Washington-led cast of Remember the Titans was the perfect movie to learn how underdogs had to fight against all those living amongst them to succeed in what they set out to achieve. As a true story of how black footballers were oppressed by white people, their leader Herman Boone not only brought the black and white players together as a team but educated the local people on how respectful values were the answer to great teamwork and eventual friendship too.

But for me though this was not my favorite sports movie either.

Photo by Moritz Mentges on Unsplash

Because since that time (which is now decades ago) the ability to watch more movies on playback has substantially increased. No longer do I have to go to the video store and rent out one movie at a time and worry about getting it back before the 6 pm deadline the following evening. My video account will never be fined for late fees because things have moved on technologically.

Now there are more movies available and the internet has brought them into our homes at the flick of a switch.

Over the years I’ve watched many sporting movies and each one I’m attracted to teach of improvement and growth.

A lot like me since I first started watching that first sports movie as a child who was hoping to grow, it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite as the minute you watch one great sports movie it motivates you to improve in the way the movie’s message suggests.

And when you do you begin to seek something more again.

Because in seeking something more you’ll always chase that next winner to watch.

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Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.

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