Editor’s note: The Gazette sports staff has compiled lists of its top 15 favorite sports movies. Each day, a different staffer will share some insight into one of their favorites. Some of them are classics, watched and re-watched time and time again. But for a few, maybe we’ll be able to convince some of you to check it out for the very first time.
It’s entirely appropriate, as a guy who curses way too much in front of my sisters’ and friends’ kids, that the No. 1 sports movie on my list is actually no longer considered appropriate in today’s woke culture.
Yes, “The Bad News Bears” is horribly dated ... but only if your gut instinct upon hearing any trigger word in 2020 uttered in a movie from 1976 is to jump on Twitter and immediately try to cancel its entire existence.
To be fair, the most famous quote in the movie — “All we got on this team are a bunch of (religious term used disparagingly), (racial slur), (another racial slur), (sexual orientation slur) and a booger-eatin’ moron” — is spewed by a foul-mouthed 11-year-old runt. The team’s worst player, also an 11-year-old, instead shows promise as a bartender, fixing dirty martinis for the alcoholic coach, who’s drinking from a full cooler of beer in the dugout during his team’s youth baseball games.
But strip that all away and what have you got? Something with a ton of heart and the most realistic sports movie ever.
Most Little League teams have one, maybe two great players (in this case, an 11-year-old girl who can throw junk and a punk from the wrong side of the tracks who bats .841), then a bunch of other kids that can hopefully, if you’re lucky, play even just a little bit.
Because every kid in youth sports has to get a chance to play, you stick the worst player out in right field and just hope they doesn’t lose the game for you. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll end up making a huge play that they’ll be talking about until they’re 40.
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Maybe your inferior team can hang around in a game you should have no chance of winning because most 11-year-olds can’t throw strikes on every pitch.
And maybe, just maybe, even though it’s a sports movie generated to make you feel good, the “good guys” still don’t win — the “bad guys” are called the Yankees, after all.
But in the end, this sports movie, chock full of prepubescent antiheroes, still makes you feel good. Why? Because you can relate to its imperfections, whether you want to actually admit that out loud or not.
My Top 15 sports movies
1. The Bad News Bears
2. The Color of Money
4. The Karate Kid
7. Eight Men Out
8. Jerry Maguire
9. Teen Wolf
10. Major League
12. The Best of Times
13. Varsity Blues
15. Bring It On
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