By Archie Burke
Bollywood, Hollywood, or otherwise, sports movies have a way of capturing public attention that few other genres can consistently claim. That’s not to say they’re all great films. In fact, many of them over the years have been disappointing. But more often than not, there’s a sizable audience that will at least give a sports movie a chance, whether because people are fans of the sport at hand, or simply because we love the inherent highs, lows, and complexities of sports story drama. As much as this may be the case though, it still feels as if there are gaps in the film industry where certain sports movies ought to have been made by now. These would be our suggestions.
A Modern Cricket Film
Image Credit: Movie – Lagaan
If asked to name a prominent cricket film, many would point first to Lagaan, which, as was discussed on its 15th anniversary a few years ago, has proven to be timeless. It’s an extraordinary drama, and one that touches on various aspects of cricket culture in a way that’s satisfying particularly to an Indian audience. However, despite the fact that it was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film award at the Academy Awards, many who are more used to Hollywood are unaware of it. Many still would struggle to relate to a film with such a historical slant to it.
What we don’t have, at least in any meaningful capacity, is a modern cricket film that can capture the world’s attention. With the sport becoming more and more accessible though outside of its primary markets, now seems an interesting time for a bold filmmaker to take a chance on something that depicts the drama and passion surrounding the sport.
The Rise Of UFC
Image Credit: Movie – Warrior
There is actually an excellent American film about mixed martial arts that generated relatively little attention given the fame of the actors involved. It came out in 2011 and is called Warrior, and it stars Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte in an MMA sports film/drama. While we’re on it, we’d note that it really is worth going back and watching if you missed it when it first came out. It seems to make the rounds on streaming services from time to time.
Despite Warrior being an enjoyable film however, we don’t yet have a mainstream movie about the astronomical rise of UFC as a professional sports league. Right about now, with this international fighting spectacle sputtering slightly, would be a good time for those behind the sport to invest in a sort of true history drama about how the UFC came to be, and some of its key figures.
An American College Football Story
Image Credit: Movie – Rudy
Films about American football are relatively common in Hollywood, though they tend to focus on high school, when in fact the college sport is arguably the most unique. The passion around U.S. college football is simply extraordinary, to the point that there are international markets to bet on games held between otherwise ordinary schools. It’s really about as big a spectacle as any country has in sports.
There is one iconic film Rudy that’s all about American football at the collegiate level. But it’s somewhat dated at this point, as renowned as it may be, and there have been decades of change in the sport since it came out. Whether we’re talking about a wholly fictional tale, or a film about one of the remarkable people or teams that have passed through the sport, the world is ready for more.
The Nike Story
It feels like sports fans all around the world are loosely aware of the influence of Nike, but don’t fully understand it. In other words, the Nike story is one we don’t really know beyond what we can quickly look up online. So how did a once-humble shoe company come to be the preeminent sports brand in the world? And would this not make for a fascinating behind-the-scenes sports drama for fans of just about every sport?
Despite the fact that Nike chairman Phil Knight published a book fairly recently, the best look we’ve ever had into the extent of Nike’s influence may have come from basketball writer Jonathan Abrams, in his book Boys Among Men. Abrams was ostensibly writing about the “prep-to-pro” generation of NBA athletes, but in doing so he pulled the curtain back on some truly astounding inner workings of Nike. To know more, and see it in cinematic form, would be a treat for all of us.
The 2008 AFC Challenge Cup
If there is ever to be a distinctly Indian sports movie that truly resonates with international audiences, it would only make sense that it would revolve around football. Because India seldom competes in the biggest international events, its love of football sometimes goes unnoticed by other nations. However, the right film could paint India properly as a nation that loves football just about as much as everyone else does.
The right vehicle for this concept may just be the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup, in which India famously triumphed over Tajikistan to win the event, establish itself as a rising Asian power, and qualify for the AFC Asian Cup for what was the first time in 27 years. The story of this team and this triumph – perhaps with coach Bob Houghton as the protagonist – would make for a wonderful, inspiring sports movie.
Do you know any other sport story that should be made into a movie? Do write and let us know.