guy cry: sports: 9x4

These sports movies really hit you right in the feels.

The goal of this series is to show that being “manly” and being disconnected with your emotions do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. While the approach to these articles is one of comedy and satire, the emotional core of these movies is very valid. Manly movies make guys cry, for example:

Sports Movies

Whether you play sports or just watch them on Sundays with your pants off, sports movies are a staple of the “makes guys cry” diet. You’ve got the machismo of physical competition, the romance angle of teammates, and the ever-present connection to whatever pee-wee soccer or little league you participated in as a child. As long as there are sports being played, there will be movies about that one time that the team you like beat the team you don’t like. Sports may take a disproportionate amount of money from college donations, ruin parking any day there’s a game, and destroy people’s bodies, but damn do they make emotional movies.

1. Rudy
I’m pretty sure I could have just repeated this film 5 times and everyone would have been ok with that. Rudy stars Sean “Goonie” Astin in one of the films he did before Lord of the Rings engulfed his life and career. And much like in The Goonies, Sean brings the chubby-cheeked charisma full force in this one, causing everyone to root for him.

Literally, they all chant his name. It’s a big deal.

The emotional key to this film is Rudy’s teammates. These are kids who have dedicated their careers, bodies, and existence to football. The top of that pyramid is listening to the coach, because he is the musician and players are his instruments. That being said, after seeing the coach refuse to allow ol’ chubby cheeks to play on the team, they lay down their jerseys so that there would be an open spot for him to play in the final game. This act of sacrifice is so moving when you consider what they are risking… but then again, he is Samwise. I would do the same.

And then that sack. And the chanting. And him on their shoulders. THE FEELS!

2. Field of Dreams
Hold on…one sec…need a tissue…okay better now. This film is like a fist full of black pepper thrown directly into your eyes. Kevin “I used to be respected” Costner builds a baseball field in the middle of his farm’s cornfield because of a dream.

AHHH, now you get the title?

Soon ghosts from baseball’s past start showing up to play friendly scrimmages. Long story short, Costner does whatever Al and Ziggy want him to, and then he gets to play catch with his Dad.

Oh I’m sorry, did I mention that his dad is dead? And that his dad was a baseball fan, and their relationship was troubled? Now you start getting the picture of why when Costner sees his dad’s ghost on the baseball diamond and asks “Hey Dad, wanna have a catch?” it’s time to tear up.

3. Remember the Titans
Can’t have a sports list without my man Denzel. This film is, to some extent, a paint-by-numbers sports movie: racial inequality plus sports competition plus more racism equals most sports films set in either the south or the past. This film rises above all that through a mix of moxy and quality.

When one of the more racist teammates gets in a debilitating car crash and then asks for only his black rival teammate to visit him, oh that’s powerful. When the nurse says only kin (it’s the south) are allowed in and he says they are brothers…OOHHhhhhhhhhh the feels in that room.

4. Hoosiers
HACKMAAAAAN!!! Many younger visitors of this site probably have no idea what this film is about. Basketball, for one. Also a coach with a troubled past played by Gene “Luthor” Hackman and the small town that sticks with him through the ups and downs.

This is another small town film that seemingly places sports over anything else. When Hackman’s coaching style doesn’t produce the results they want at the pace they want, they vote to kick him out. BUT THEN a great player who vowed not to play for any other coach than his last coach decides he’ll play with this coach as long as he can still be the coach! RE-VOTE!

I know, it’s a bit schmaltzy, but if you watch the movie you can feel the chest tightening as well. It’s worth it.

5. Searching for Bobby Fischer
“You calling a movie with kids playing chess a SPORTS movie?” Why yes, he who has taken a break from playing CoD and bathing in Mountain Dew Code Urine, I am. Call it a sport of the mind, and this movie is the Superbowl of the sport. Josh Waitzkin is a chess savant, and this film documents his ascent to glory.

You may not have seen the movie but somewhere in the back of your mind, when you hear someone say this movie’s name, you associate that with chess and being really smart. That’s pop culture creep that any sports movie dreams of achieving.

Guys like to fantasize about winning, but better than that we like to imagine winning so hard that our opponent loses his cool and humiliates himself.

Evolution is weird like that.

Josh is so good at what he does that during the final match he knows he’s winning on the board before the match is even over. Not wanting to deprive his rival the victory, he offers a draw. This touching moment has no ego or taunting to it: Josh legitimately feels empathy enough to water down a pure win so that he can share with a fellow player. Of course the rival declines and is beaten horribly.

Isn’t that what we all want, to both be the better man AND destroy our enemies?

Like what you see? Secure enough in your masculinity for more? Check out more Guy Cry Cinema or watch Dan on No Right Answer, the weekly debate show that knows what’s really important: Pointlessly arguing about geek culture.

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Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.

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