Field of Dreams

10 great sports movies to watch with your kids

Looking for a good family movie to watch with your kids? Here are some good sports movies – in alphabetical order – that will entertain and inspire your family.

Some of these are all-out comedies, while others are dramas that teach deeper lessons about friendship, loyalty, courage and commitment. All speak to the uncanny transformational power of sport.

1) Billy Elliot

Comedy, drama released in 2001
Rating: restricted adult
Sport: dance
Suggested ages: 10 years and older
The awkward young son of a working class English coal miner fails to find his place in “normal” boys’ sports (like boxing and soccer), and instead discovers a love for ballet. He has to face the wrath and dismay of his father and others to pursue his ballet dream. The film features some strong language that may offend some viewers and is inappropriate for young children, but the story is very inspirational. Review

2) Cool Runnings

Comedy released in 1993
Rating: PG
Sport: Olympic bobsled
Suggested ages: 8 years and older
This inspirational comedy is the true story of the first-ever Jamaican bobsled team training for the winter Olympics. It’s an underdog story full of laughter. Review

3) Field of Dreams

Drama, fantasy released in 1989
Rating: PG
Sport: baseball
Suggested ages: 7 years and older
In this fictional story, an Iowa farmer becomes inspired to build a baseball diamond in his corn field, even as the bank threatens foreclosure on his property. The source if his inspiration is a ghostly voice which encourages him with the words, “If you build it, he will come.” Review

4) Hoosiers

Drama released in 1986
Rating: PG
Sport: basketball
Suggested ages: 10 years and older
An unemployed college basketball coach becomes the coach of a small town high school team in 1950s Indiana. He subsequently leads them to the state championship despite conflict with parents and local townspeople, teaching his players about commitment and teamwork along the way. Review

5) Kicking and Screaming

Comedy released in 2005
Rating: PG
Sport: soccer
Suggested ages: 7 years and older
While poorly reviewed by some film critics, this movie does a good job of depicting the pitfalls of children’s sport with humour. Will Ferrell is a suburban dad who takes on the job of coaching his son’s team and soon becomes a caricature of poor sportsmanship. Families will laugh with this film, and kids will come away largely inoculated against hyper-competitive, obnoxious coaches. Review

6) Remember the Titans

Drama released in 2000
Rating: PG
Sport: football
Suggested ages: 10 years and older
An African-American high school football coach struggles to build a championship team while facing racism within and without the school. Based on actual events in Virginia in 1971, the film shows the power of sport to overcome serious social issues. Review

7) The Rookie

Drama released in 2002
Rating: G
Sport: baseball
Suggested ages: 5 years and older
The inspirational true story of a small town high school science teacher in Texas who gets his chance to play in major league baseball. While coaching a high school baseball team, he promises his players that he will attend tryouts if they win their playoffs – which they do. Review

8) Rudy

Drama released in 1993
Rating: PG
Sport: football
Suggested ages: 10 years and older
Based on a true story, a high school graduate with limited financial means tries to realize his dream of playing football for Notre Dame. He also has to overcome the fact that he is especially small to be playing university-level football. Review

9) The Sandlot

Comedy released in 1993
Rating: PG
Sport: baseball
Suggested ages: 7 years and older
A shy, physically awkward boy finds friendship and adventure in a small southern California town in the early 1960s by playing scrub baseball with the neighbourhood kids. Review

10) Searching for Bobby Fischer

Drama released in 1993
Rating: PG
Sport: chess
Suggested ages: 10 years and older
Based on a true story, the movie follows the life of a young boy who shows early signs that he may be a chess genius. The father attempts to cultivate his talent, and the film examines the conflict of wills and values that arises. Review

5 responses to “10 great sports movies to watch with your kids

  1. I would add Crooked Arrows instead of Billy Elliot since ballet is not a sport it is an art.

    In what world is ballet considered a sport? It is a fantastic and wonderful expression of who you are but not in the least a sport.

    I am also dismayed that Soul Surfer never made this list but Kicking and Screaming did. It is almost laughable.

    1. Ballet is indeed an art, Kevin. It may not be a sport by the strictest of definitions, but dancers are incredibly athletic.

      At Active for Life we use a loose definition of the word “sport” that includes all manner of physical activities. Dance, all forms of it, certainly qualifies.

      We haven’t watched Crooked Arrows, but that seems like a good one for us to add to the list. Soul Surfer is another one that we haven’t seen. Thanks for the suggestions.

  2. This is a great list – thanks! We love watching sports movies with the kids.

    The one thing I’ve noticed, though, as the mother of three girls, is how hard it is to find a great movie about female athletes. We recently watched the Mighty Macs, which is similar to Hoosiers, and is about a female basketball team. It’s pretty good, and inspired the girls in our house.

    Now if only they’d make a great movie about the Williams sisters for our tennis players! :-)

    1. Thanks for your comment, Susan. Keep your eyes open for a review of the surfing documentary, Lakey Peterson: Zero to 100, which we’ll be running in the next few weeks. Lakey is a surfer from California and her story, from what I’ve been told, is quite something.

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