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The Best Ever Movie Sports Stars



Every sports fan has his or her favorite team. There are many reasons why a team becomes a favorite – location, a history of success, family connections – but a lot of times it is down to a star athlete. These sporting heroes are looked up to by many and are remembered long after they retire.

Sports are naturally dramatic and that is why there are so many movies about sports. Sometimes these films are about special teams but it is even more likely that they concentrate on individual athletes. We then get to root for these cinematic star athletes in the same way that we would in real life.

These movie athletes will never get to be featured in the nightly sports highlights or on the best sports betting websites. But we will remember them in the same way as we do Jackie Robinson, Joe Montana, and Kobe Bryant. Here are some of the best-ever movie sports stars.

Dottie Hinson – A League of Their Own

When this movie came out in 1992 it shone a light on a previously unheralded aspect of baseball history. Dottie Hinson is the standout star of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a league started during WW2 to keep morale up and provide baseball fans with games to watch while the male players were away.

Geena Davis plays Dottie, an incredibly talented player who gains attention by performing the splits while catching a popped-up ball behind home plate. Although nothing is more important than her husband coming back from war, she makes a late appearance in the World Series. The whole movie is seen as a Dottie flashback.

Rocky Balboa – Rocky

Surely one of the greatest movie characters of all time, let alone one of the best-ever fictional sports athletes? Apparently, Sylvester Stallone wrote Rocky and refused to allow it to be made unless he could play the main role. The studio agreed and sports movie history was made.

Rocky is a small-time boxer given the chance to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world. You’ve probably seen this classic movie, but we won’t give anything away. Just know that its popularity started a whole Rocky franchise that is still going to this day.

Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn – Major League

Taking $75 million at the box office, this 1989 comedy followed the fortunes of a fictionalized version of the Cleveland Indians and their new owner’s scheme to move the franchise to Miami. The idea is that if the team is so bad, fans won’t turn up and the Indians can move to sunnier climes.

Part of the new owner’s plan is to put together the worst roster in baseball. Among other has-beens and never-beens is former convict Ricky Vaughn, played by Charlie Sheen. He is a pitcher with a 100-mph fastball but an uncontrollable temper. It takes a while but the players come together to thwart the owner’s plan and Ricky’s pitching is at the heart of the turnaround.

Crash Davis – Bull Durham

Crash Davis was actually a real-life professional baseball player who played in the minor leagues. But the fictional version, played by Kevin Costner in Bull Durham, is the one that is better known. Costner also appeared in the hugely successful Field of Dreams around this time.

In Bull Durham, Costner is a veteran catcher sent to school a rookie pitcher and turn him into a major league player. Crash uses tough love and inspirational speeches to transform raw potential into something worthy of the big league and also finds time to fall in love and find true meaning in his life.

Jake LaMotta – Raging Bull

Boxing is one of the most cinematic sports there is and there have been plenty of movies that have successfully used its drama to good effect. Perhaps none more so than Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull. Robert De Niro plays the brilliant but flawed Jake LaMotta.

This is not a fictional movie with a happy ending though. This sometimes brutal film captures the harsh life of LaMotta, a middleweight boxer in the 1940s and 50s who found it difficult to control his anger outside of the ring. It is one of the most realistic portrayals of the boxing life.

Peter LaFleur – Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Sometimes the most memorable movie sports stars are not from the big major league teams. That’s definitely the case for Peter LaFleur, played by Vince Vaughn in the 1994 comedy, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. This is low-level sports – played for high-level laughs.

LaFleur is the owner of Average Joe’s, a failing gym that needs to raise a lot of money to stay in business. The answer is LaFleur putting together a ragtag dodgeball team that enters a tournament with a huge cash prize. Can they go all the way to Vegas and win against all the odds?

Figure 2: It is not always the major league teams that feature in the best sports movies

Reggie Dunlop – Slap Shot

Paul Newman enjoyed an incredible film career and played a number of sporting roles in his time. But possibly the most memorable was as Reggie Dunlop in the 1977 sports comedy Slap Shot. In it, a minor league hockey team resorts to extreme violence on the ice to gain popularity and success.

Newman’s character is the player-coach of a hockey team that is faced with an uncertain future. Hoping to motivate his players into saving the organization, the violent tactics actually work and the team climbs the rankings, increasing Newman’s previously non-existent future prospects at the same time.

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