The Sports Film: Essential Themes Explained

Sports Film - So The Theory Goes

The sports film as a genre has been steadily gaining a really strong reputation in modern cinema. The roots of sports films go back to the early days of cinema when sport was a favourite topic for US filmmakers who were looking for stories that were both dramatic and popular.


Sports films have always been one of the most used stories for films since the formation of Hollywood film industry. The earliest sports films is The Knockout and it was a boxing film starring Charlie Chaplin as the main character. The next era of sports films covered a wide range of sports including the known sports like football and baseball. Similarly, sports films have concentrated on the portrayal of not only conventional sports such as basketball and football but also martial arts in The Karate Kid and horse racing in Seabiscuit.

Common Themes in the Sports Films

The sports films focus on one particular sport and it is used to tell a story about the team or an individual’s struggle. True story, redemption and underdog are some of the most popular themes used in the sports films. The underdog story in sports films shows the struggles of a team that is unlikely to win the game. The story revolves around their rise to the top. Some of the examples are The Karate Kid, A League of Their Own, Seabiscuit, and Miracle.

Sports films with the redemption storyline tell a story about an athlete or team that once was at the top of their game, but after an unfortunate event, they now must find their way out of the dark. We have seen this theme used in The Wrestler. Likewise, the sports films Rocky and Million Dollar Baby have also used the redemption them in the story.

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