As an athlete, sports movies hold a special place in my heart. No matter how cheesy, I am left feeling inspired to wake up at 4am and practice bicycle kicks in the morning fog or go for an insanely steep run up a mountain with my teammates. I just love a tearful motivational speech and an underdog who comes out on top.
Before we get into it, I do need to address one thing...
I can't in good conscience include She's the Man on this list. Don't get me wrong, I love it...I just can't get over the playing soccer with your hair down thing.
Here we go.
"Brr it's cold in here!" Released in 2000, this cult classic has truly stood the test of time. It is full of iconic quotes, music, dance moves, and outfits. Following two rivaling cheer squads, Bring It On shows that women who work together and believe in themselves can achieve their greatest dreams. It's a cheer-ocracy after all.
At first glance, this movie is about boys, but stick with it and you quickly learn that Gabriella is the true star here. The feisty and fearless Gabriella is the soul of the "Soul Skaters" who has to overcome judgment from her peers as well as her family in order to do the thing she loves (and is realllllly good at). I mean, they tried to kill her so that she couldn't compete! That's how good she is! Gabbi is goals for real.
There is a theme among these movies - women having to sneak around in order to chase their dreams. Whip It is such a film. Bliss, played by Ellen Page, is a small town girl who discovers the sport of roller derby and falls in love with it. Her mother is a serious pageant mom who is very strict about her daughter keeping away from anything "unladylike." Bliss has to find the courage to be honest with herself and with her mom in order to be who she truly is.
I couldn't keep this classic DCOM off the list. It's just too good! Any movie that involves a girl having to pretend to be a boy in order to do or get something she wants is a movie worth paying attention to. 15-year-old Andi poses as her twin brother in order to compete in the male-dominated sport of motocross racing. Her awesome mom and brothers help her achieve this until her lame dad learns about their scheme. Does she end up at the top of the podium while simultaneously destroying gender stereotypes in the process? If you're over 30 you know the answer.
Battle of the Sexes recounts the famous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. Women had to take matters into their own hands in order to open the door to the sports leagues we know today. In this movie we see King as she fights injustice by agreeing to take on the former men's tennis champ (Riggs) in what would become one of the most watched sporting events of all time. This is also an important one because we get a look at King as she learns more about herself and her sexuality.
This is one of those movies that I have to stop and watch anytime it's on TV. Released in 2000, Love & Basketball addresses real life discrimination for women in sport. Monica is an insanely gifted basketball player and has loved the game since she was a girl. Her childhood friend and boyfriend, Quincy, is also a stud. They both grow up and want basketball to be their livelihood, but they quickly learn that their paths to basketball stardom are very different.
Jess and Jules both have dreams of playing professional soccer (who doesn't, right?!). However, their parents are not supportive of this dream. Jess has very traditional parents who expect very traditional things from her. With her sights set on becoming the female David Beckham, Jess has to decide if she is going to follow her parents' dreams or her own.
Anne Marie is a surfer who was nearly killed in a gnarly surf accident, and now has to overcome fear and adversity to find her way back on the path towards a professional career. Family and friendship play a significant role while Anne Marie struggles to find her confidence in the water and in life once again.
Released 30 years ago, A League of Their Own is a timeless story of badass women sacrificing everything to pave a path for generations to come. The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League came at a time when men were off to war and the sport of baseball wanted to continue on. The movie follows two talented sisters who enter the league and prove to a very skeptical world that women can not only compete, but they can bring in money as athletes.
Some movies are just one big middle finger to the man, and we love that around here. That's why Stick It comes in at number one. After some trouble with the law, Haley is forced to return to the world she had left years before: competitive gymnastics. Although crazy talented, Haley has trouble fighting her past and her pride in order to step up and be the teammate and gymnast she needs to be. Once she finds her place, she inspires the athletes around her to take competition standings into their own hands. A girl's past, or her sports bra, shouldn't define her performance. Stick It lets hard work and talent do the talking.
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