Best Sports Movie Bracket – Division Finals

With the world going through a COVID-19 related sports withdrawal, it’s time to escape to the world of film to get our fix in! And since there aren’t any sports to compete in, it’s time to find out what the best sports movie of all time is! We’ve broken all movies into 4 different themed divisions of 8 teams each: Hockey, Baseball, Football and Fighting and The Rest. With the 3rd round here, let’s check out the division finals!

Check out all of the matchups so far:

Best Sports Movie Bracket – Division Semi Finals #2

Best Sports Movie Bracket – Division Semi Finals #1

Best Sports Movie Bracket – Rd. 1 – #4 vs #5

Best Sports Movie Bracket – Rd. 1 – #2 vs #7

Best Sports Movie Bracket – Rd. 1 – #1 vs #8

Best Sports Movie Bracket – Rd. 1 – #3 vs #6

Hockey: #1 Miracle vs #2 Slapshot

By Scotty Hicks

You know that complex phenomenon when characters from a movie or television show make cameos or guest stars on another movie, essentially intertwining the two universes? Well, that is actually the case in this match up, where the 1977 loosely truth-based Charlestown Chiefs of Slapshot faceoff against the 1980 Olympic Hockey team of Miracle.

The Charlestown Chiefs, known to be based on the real-life Johnstown Jets of the old NAHL (minor pro in the 1970s) were a real hockey team that actually faced financial difficulties. The Hanson Brothers were not only based on real players, but were the actual players from the real-life Jets. Dave Hanson, Steve Carlson and Jeff Carlson were professional hockey players before, during, and after the filming of Slapshot. They played in leagues all over North America, from the top-level NHL and WHA, down to the lower level CHL and even the short-lived PHL (Pacific Hockey League). Also noteworthy, Dave Hanson and Jeff Carlson did actually have a lot of PIMs, cracking the 200 minute mark on multiple occasions. The trio were journeymen in the truest sense, playing for a combined 38 teams in their careers, spanning the 1970s and 1980s.

You know who else played professional hockey in the 1980s? The majority of 1980s U.S. Olympic Team from Miracle. Without gamesheets in hand, it would be tough to confirm actual games played with or against the Hanson Brothers, but there are several instances of members of the U.S. Team being rostered with either Dave Hanson or one of the Carlson brothers. John Harrington from the U.S. Team is actually from the same small town in Minnesota as the Carlson Brothers, and once rostered with Steve Carlson in the CHL. Backup goalie Steve Janaszak was rostered with Jeff Carlson in Fort Wayne of the old IHL (80-81) and briefly in Minnesota with Dave Hanson (79-80). Additionally, Steve Christoff from the U.S. Team was on the North Stars in 1980 for 20 games post-olympics. Even Ralphie Cox, the last man cut in the dramatic scene of Miracle, got to play a season in Muskegon of the IHL with Jeff Carlson.

Winner – Slapshot. These are both great stories, and while Slapshot is a bit slap-stick for my typical liking, it has a player coach. Reggie Dunlop on screen, but in fact Steve Carlson went on to be a player-assistant coach in the 1986-87 season for the Baltimore Skipjacks of the AHL. That’s old time hockey.

Baseball: #1 Bull Durham vs #3 The Sandlot

By Carl Landra

What makes a great baseball movie? It is the same thing that draws us to sport in general. Watching someone or someones be able to accomplish something great. We watch to be awed. We watch to be amazed. We watch to be inspired. So, which of these movies pull this off the best?

Winner – Sandlot. Bull Durham is a fantastic baseball story in it’s own right. It gives us everything that we want in a sports movie, but Sandlot does them just a little bit better. Upon watching Sandlot, it makes you want to go throw a ball, take some batting practice and get the team together. This inspiration to fall in love with a sport through movie is exactly what makes it a great movie. The simplicity of living what it was like to be a kid playing ball with their friends is what makes a great story. And Sandlot nails it! Congratulations on the win!

Football and Fighting: #5 Friday Night Lights vs #7 Rocky

By Brodie Cotnam

Friday Night Lights: Amongst a handful of standouts amongst football movies, the film covers it all, from the oft troubled personal lives behind the players, what the team means to the town and the significance of the sport itself. We all know how important football is in Texas and it’s truly the heartbeat of the movie. Everything about their lives revolves around it. From the players, to the coach, to their families, at times it seems like it’s all they have, so in a way we understand how much it means to them, and how much they mean to each other. The story encapsulates the drama and the pressure that they feel from within and the community at large. It’s a familiar story of facing adversity, and believing in oneself despite the odds. The football scenes are great but and we come to empathise with the team.

Rocky: “You’re gonna eat lighting and crap thunder!” Subtlety was not Mickey’s strength…Nominated for 10 Oscars and taking home three (Best Picture, Director & Editing) Rocky is not simply another sports movie. Like Raging Bull it’s a classic film, whose story has much more to offer. Sylvester Stallone’s (Oscar nominated) script paints the portrait of a man down on his luck, and himself, who rises to the occasion when presented the opportunity of a lifetime: a fight with heavyweight champ Apollo Creed. His indomitable spirit, buoyed by the support of his lady love, Adrian wins over the crowd, and the champ, even if he falls short in the ring. Filled with great lines, memorable montages and fantastic performances Rocky earns its place in the pantheon of must see movies, not merely ones in the sports genre.

Winner – Rocky. Both films are about rising up to the challenge of adversity only to ultimately come up short, but Rocky’s cultural impact, memorable dialogue and lasting legacy set it apart from just about all underdog stories. Both are great sports movies, but let’s not let recency bias (like with Raging Bull…) take away from the fact that Rocky is one of the rare few that transcends the genre, and its classic status is well earned.

The Rest: #3 Caddyshack vs #4 Happy Gilmore

By German Villegas

Two golf movies going at it. I guess if we were to accept that golf is a legitimate sport (it’s not, it’s a game for rich people), then these two movies, which are basically about the mocking and degradation of the cultures of golf, should be the culmination of “golf movies.”

But taking a real philosophical point of view, both movies have a lot to say about class culture and the barriers of working-class people. Caddyshack’s showing how “new money” (Al) can disrupt “old money” (Smails) but by still manipulating the worker class (represented by Danny, who in this case who doesn’t care about any of these bickering millionaires at all, and just wants to get enough cash to go to college). In the end, it was through the work of Danny and Carl, the other working-class individual, whose single pursuit (chasing the gopher) destroys the whole golf course that allows the “new money” to win. The sight of the destroyed golf course, while “old money” is left defeated, is a wonderful sight but it is a sobering thought as to what “new money” would do. No, it will not build affordable housing for Carl and Danny, it would build high rise condos for other elites. Alas, it’s a pyrrhic victory.

Happy Gilmore, on the other hand, shows how the working class can disrupt an elitist institution and how much that institution hates how working-class individuals (Happy) infiltrate their status quo. Every time Happy tries his best to play by their rules, he gets frustrated, and the culture tries to repent him. The institution (represented by Shooter) is also shown to be manipulative against Happy and it is only when Happy realizes his full potential outside of the rules of golf is where he shines. Even then, the institution cannot accept defeat, and only through the organization of the working class audience (the mob of people watching Happy) is when they are taken down. A true story of triumph over the shackles of the elite.

Winner – Happy Gilmore. So through this lens, I would have to give Happy Gilmore the win because of the utopian dream of self-realization against the dominance of the ultra elites.

We’ve had our say, now it’s your turn! Vote in the Twitter polls and decide who moves onto the next round. See you next time, when we conquer the semi-finals!

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