The Return Of Sports Movies For Kids
I’m the proud father of a little girl who is still much too young to watch movies let alone play organized sports. That time will come. I often think about the types of movies she will gravitate towards as she gets older. Disney classics and Pixar blockbusters are certainly early contenders. (She’s already obsessed with Frozen.)
I don’t plan on forcing her to watch all the movies I adored growing up. She’ll have her own classics to grow up with. But something concerns me about one particular genre. Sports movies for kids. Now, arguments can be made that the vast majority of sports movies are suitable for kids. I’d happily watch Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own, Space Jam and Cool Runnings with her. It’s the sports movies about kids that fell out of the public consciousness over the last decade or two. (With a few notable exceptions I suppose.)
The Sandlot DOMINATED my childhood. The Mighty Ducks trilogy, The Bad News Bears, Angels in the Outfield, The Karate Kid, Rookie of the Year and more inspired me a great deal as a young athlete. (And film fan) These types of movies are important dammit! Those are my classics but where are the new films geared towards new generations? Movies that demonstrate how much fun it can be to be part of a team. Movies that inspire big league dreams.
I miss movies like that and I would very much like to live vicariously through my daughter. That’s when I realized the genre was never really that BIG to begin with. This article began as a countdown of the top 10 sports movies for kids of all time. A list that has been done thousands of times on other sites. As I clicked through those pages I realized the majority of the lists featured the same 10 movies.
It’s time for Hollywood to revive the genre and produce sports movies for kids that don’t rely on golden retrievers and chimpanzees to find an audience. I want a light hearted movie about kids playing sports so kids today can grow up with their own Ham, Conway, Leak, Gaffney, Larusso, Rowengartner, Squints and more.
These are legendary movie characters as far as I’m concerned. I’m 32 years old. (Wow. Matt Foley just popped into my head) If I stepped to the plate today and someone threw me a wild pitch the first thing I would say is “This is baseball! Not tennis! Give me something to hit!” If I crushed the next pitch? “Low and awayyyyyyyyy, just like I like it!”
I grew up in the glacial like conditions of Northern Ontario, Canada. So you can imagine how many times I watched The Mighty Ducks and D2. (D3 sucks. You’re thinking it. I just typed it out loud. Let’s move on.) I still remember playing street hockey as a kid… One… Two… Three… Triple deke. Ping! I was playing softball a few years back and we got mercy’d. (A fancy way of saying the other team scored so many runs we just… Stopped playing.) When the game ended one of our guys yelled “Let’s go shake their hands.” If you just did your best Gunnar Stahl impression you understand why I laughed when he said it. Is there anyone my age who didn’t try to perfect the knuckle puck?
Speaking of perfection, my swan kick technique was flawless when I was young. How was yours? Could you keep your balance? How was your arm extension?
My dad painted a strike zone on a piece of plywood when I was obsessed with baseball. I was always an infielder but one year I desperately wanted to pitch. The reason? Rookie of the Year. Why couldn’t I be a major league pitcher? (I sucked at it)
You don’t have to be an athlete to appreciate these films either. My daughter may never put on a basketball jersey but that doesn’t mean a movie about sports for kids won’t speak to her. These are inspirational, feel good movies that are full of laughs and feature amazing underdog stories. Who doesn’t love a good underdog story!
It only takes one project to reignite the genre. One giant hit and studios will be falling over each other trying to make more. Will the drought end soon? I doubt it but it might. At least I can show her movies like The Sandlot. A true classic.