It’s no mystery that SBS loves sports movies. We have done lists of the best ones, covered some of our favs in detail and make callbacks to the best lines and moments in many articles. At this point, these films have become part of the larger culture, an integral part of the modern sports landscape. Which brings me to my point, we need more sports movies featuring women. We have an embarrassingly low amount of them and that needs to change.
Boys grow up with a plethora of male athletes in many different sports to act as their role models. Plus all the fictional ones in movies, video games and television. Young women have way less in this department which is tragic because growing minds need movies to show them they can do anything. Cinema is the telling of a hero’s story. It may sound silly but where else does a kid learn that they can overcome any obstacle and win it all with just hard work and determination? Of course from the parents but that message needs to be echoed in the world for it to truly stick.
Sports movies show us a narrative of the underdog and reveals the viewer’s own potential. It is incredibly powerful. Not just for athletes, for everyone. Understanding all that, you can see my call for action. After a little research I found these films. All starring women, set in sports.
A League of their Own (1992)
The Next Karate Kid (1994)
Bring it On (2000)
Bend it like Beckham (2002)
Blue Crush (2002)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Against the Ropes (2004)
Ice Princess (2005)
Whip It (2009)
I’m sure I’m missing some but still, that’s not a lot. Part of the criteria is that these all had to be theatrically released. No made for TV garbage. Also no dance movies were considered. But cheerleading counts. This is because cheer is deeply rooted in the American sport experience and if I included dance flicks then most of the list would be dance movies and that’s not what this is about. And some of these had sequels but we are talking original sports stories.
Shout outs to Wimbledon (2004) and Little Giants (1994) for having strong female roles but the main characters are still men. She’s the Man (2006) is a female lead and has soccer in the background but the sports angle isn’t really strong enough. Amanda Bynes does disguise herself to play on the men’s team which is fun but it’s more of a romantic comedy than anything else. I half considered adding The Hunger Games (2012) but, you know, not a real sport. Still good though.
It’s a sad state of affairs when studios make multiple sports pictures about men pretending to be women so they can compete (Lady Bugs, Juwanna Man) but no one wants to make any real stories of female athleticism. And while I’m on my soapbox, let’s get some more diversity on screen. It can’t all be white people. I watch sports. I know.
So I challenge Hollywood and all the executives, male and female, make more sports movies starring women. We must have these stories for our kids so they get to see heroics can come from all walks of life. Everyone is an underdog and sports teaches us that it’s okay. We can overcome.
Play like a girl.