Sports Movies That Aren't About Sports

Sports Movies That Aren't About Sports

Sports have been a popular subject in motion pictures ever since the invention of the medium. Some of the first films were about boxers and wrestlers, and many sports movies have garnered Oscar nominations, like Ali and The Natural. Curiously, there are a few really great sports movies out there that aren't really about sports at all. Whether it's because they focus on things related to sports in the periphery or because they just take a different approach to the subject, these films stand out from the rest of the genre.

Big Fan

Robert Siegel's 2009 drama Big Fan doesn't actually feature any footage of real or simulated football despite being about the world's most enthusiastic supporter of the New York Giants. Patton Oswalt stars as Paul, a strange but essentially good man whose entire life revolves around his fandom of his home team. While working as a parking garage attendant he listens to a sports radio show to which he calls in nightly to express his elaborate, pre-written opinions and respond to his rival fan in Philadelphia. Paul's family constantly prods him to do more with his life but he goes on defiantly insisting that he likes his stalled, limited existence. When he runs into the star quarterback for the Giants who proceeds to beat him senseless for his creepy admiration, Paul's life spirals out of control. Big Fan isn't really a movie about sports, it's a movie about how sports can create a disturbing amount of intensity in the people who use them as an escape.


The Scout

Michael Ritchie, director of The Bad News Bears, has his name on the top spot of this comedy but Albert Brooks is the one who really makes The Scout a memorable picture. Brooks plays a troubled talent scout for the New York Yankees whose career is on the line after his most recent discovery turned out to be a bust. In a small Mexican village he comes across a preternaturally gifted young man named Steve Nebraska played by Brendan Fraser. It doesn't take long for Brooks to learn that Steve's baseball greatness hides a history of deep-seated trauma that threatens to end his career before it even starts. The Scout doesn't feature much actual baseball and according to Brooks the movie's shutout happy ending was tacked on by 20th Century Fox. At its heart, it's a movie about redemption and responsibility that happens to involve a little baseball in between.


Jerry Maguire

Tom Cruise was at the top of his game in the 1990's. He dominated as an action star and a dramatic lead, but perhaps his most memorable role of the decade was as the titular protagonist of Cameron Crowe's 1996 dramedy Jerry Maguire. Cruise plays a sports agent who goes out on a limb after a nervous breakdown loses him his prestigious job. He starts his own agency along with a single mother named Dorothy (Renee Zellweger), securing two future football stars through sheer force of will. Jerry Maguire is about the business behind sports, but on a larger scale it's about how a corporate mentality can destroy a man if he doesn't keep in touch with his humanity.