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20 sports movies we love that will ease your boredom

It may be hard to find real sports to watch right now, but there is an ABUNDANCE of great fictional sports at your fingertips.

Still frame from the movie ‘Bend it like Beckham’ in which the main character wears a sari while garnering attention from her soccer teammates in the locker room. WireImage

Televised sports are on hiatus for the foreseeable future. It’s a tough (but obviously necessary) blow, considering we’re all stuck inside with little to do, and sports would be the perfect diversion right about now.

Thankfully, there are hundreds, or possibly thousands, of sports-centric movies available to wile away the hours. Some might even be convincing enough to get you to yell at your screen, or feel the inimitable catharsis that comes from watching your team (the good team, obviously) win.

Below are some of the SB Nation staff’s go-to sports flicks, with information about where to stream them included. The majority are also available to rent via Amazon, YouTube, Google Play and the like.

Hot Rod (2007)

Available on Netflix, Prime and Pluto.

Insofar as failing to jump over things with a moped is a sport, Hot Rod is about sports. It’s an extremely dumb, pleasant movie with no stakes whatsoever, and it is my number one.

— Seth Rosenthal

Yes, it’s hilarious — but even more importantly, it has the ability to absorb you before you realize it and not let your mind wander out of its grasp. Distraction grade: 10 out of 10

— Will Buikema

Creed (2015)

Available to rent

Too many Rocky sequels to count, but this one really engages with the mythos around the character and who gets to take part in that myth. Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson are two of Hollywood’s brightest stars, and while it’s frustrating they were not awarded like Sylvester Stallone for their performances, all three are terrific here. Also: unlike the original Rocky, this movie recognizes that boxing includes dodging and blocking as well as punching!

— Pete Volk

Goon (2011)

Available on Netflix.

You could probably analyze Goon for commentary about how we glorify violence in hockey, or you could sit back and enjoy a genuinely hilarious movie. It has everything you want in a hockey film. There’s a dim-witted but lovable bouncer who gets a chance at a hockey career in the minors, and a grumpy Quebecois prodigy with a physicality issue. There’s gratuitous blood and gore, and Liev Schreiber getting into fights, and a hint of bromance. There are even cameos from former NHL players, and one from current Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin in the film’s 2017 sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, which is also on Netflix.

If you don’t mind some exaggerated violence and slapstick comedy (and particularly if that’s what you’re into), I highly recommend it. Plus, the soundtrack slaps.

— Sydney Kuntz

Bend it Like Beckham (2002)

Available on demand with Starz and DirecTV

It’s funny, it’s sweet, and the fact that you’ve definitely seen it before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it again. It made Keira Knightley an international star, and Parminder Nagra picked up the FIFA presidential award. Beyond the film, it represented a crucial moment in David Beckham’s relationship with his country. He’d gone from villain in 1998 after that red card against Argentina, to hero in 2001 after that free kick against Greece. Eight months later this came out, and canonized him as a national treasure.

— Andi Thomas

High Flying Bird (2019)

Available on Netflix

What better to watch during a period without basketball than a movie about basketball personnel that takes place during a time of no basketball? High Flying Bird, shot entirely on iPhone by Steven Soderbergh, follows a top rookie and his ambitious agent during an NBA lockout, as they try and change the owner-heavy economic structure of the NBA.

— Pete Volk

Escape to Victory (1981, also just known as Victory)

Available on demand with Cinemax and DirecTV

Sylvester Stallone is an Allied solider in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp. So is Michael Caine. In there with them, for some reason, is Pele, Bobby Moore, Ozzy Ardiles, and half of Ipswich Town’s 1981 UEFA Cup winning squad. And wouldn’t you just know it, they have to play an exhibition against a handpicked German side, for reasons of propaganda. Will they escape … to victory?

— Andi Thomas

Goal of the Dead (2014)

Available on Shudder

”Some kind of a riot. They are burning cars.”

”Given the refereeing, no wonder.”

French football superstar Samuel Lorit faces off against his hometown team in a cup game. His formerly adoring fans now all despise him. And then a tainted steroid injection turns pretty much everybody into zombies, straight from the 28 Days Later school of hard-running mouth-frothers. Good blood-soaked fun, if probably a bit too long. But then all films are too long these days. Return of the King won a million Oscars, and that didn’t have a ‘roid-raging zombie kicking a man’s head off his neck and into the goal.

— Andi Thomas

Fighting with My Family (2019)

Available on Prime and Hulu

Maybe the only worthwhile WWE Studios release ever? I’ll await the flame from fans of The Marine 5: Battleground in the comments. What would have otherwise been yet another vanilla sports inspiration story is elevated by a terrific cast, led by newly Oscar-nominated Florence Pugh.

— Pete Volk

The Damned United (2009)

Available to rent

An adaptation of a brilliant but bleak novel about Brian Clough’s doomed spell at Leeds United, the film dispenses with most of the book’s harrowing existential loneliness and discovers a surprisingly soft-hearted buddy story underneath. Michael Sheen disappears uncannily into his role, absolutely nailing Clough’s astringent self-possession, but Colm Meaney almost steals the film as Clough’s nemesis, Don Revie. A reminder that English football, back in the ‘70s, was a strange, drizzly place full of strange, compelling people.

— Andi Thomas

Hoop Dreams (1994)

Available on HBO, Kanopy and DirecTV

One of the best American documentaries. Also one of the best movies about dreams, who crushes them and how they evolve. It is also one of the best movies about race and poverty in America. All in all, this is one of the best movies about the allure and grace of basketball. A phenomenal film!

— Pete Volk

Horse Feathers (1932)

Available via the Internet Archive

I grew up watching the Marx Brothers with my dad, and I would be remiss not to mention this college football-centric classic. Turns out the “amateur” status of college football players was a joke in the 1930s, too!

— Pete Volk

Minding the Gap (2019)

Available on Hulu

Only tangentially about sports, since the group of kids at this documentary’s focus are skateboarders, but this is one of the great modern American documentaries about growing up, difficult friendships and toxic masculinity. Highly, highly recommend.

— Pete Volk

Starship Troopers (1997)

Available on Showtime, CBS All Access, DirecTV and Vudu

There are several reasons Starship Troopers is memorable — the broadly written anti-nationalist commentary! The exploding bugs! The co-ed showers! That one fight scene soundtracked to Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You,” for some reason! — but space football is the only one that fits with our theme. In the future, America’s favorite sport is played in high school gymnasiums on old wrestling mats. There are no special teams or roughness penalties. The ball is Nerf’s rough approximation of a baked potato wrapped in foil.

Johnny Rico, our protagonist, wins and is escorted off the field a hero. Roughly 20 minutes of film later, he’s left to die on an alien planet. Shit’s real, yo.

— Christian D’Andrea

Rush (2013)

Available on HBO

If you liked Ford V. Ferrari, you’ll probably love this. Retelling the true story of James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda’s intense Formula 1 rivalry, Rush has fantastic racing scenes and benefits from focusing on the wildly different personalities and approaches of the two rivals.

— Pete Volk

A League of Their Own (1992)

Available on Showtime, and very often randomly on cable

It almost feels redundant to list this classic, which you’ve probably already seen once or dozens of times. But if you have seen it, you know it holds up better than most of the feel-good, strings-swelling-styled sports hagiographies of the 1990s. A more-or-less accurate retelling of a vital and often ignored part of American sports history, conveyed via an all-star cast and too many quotable lines to count. The “hard” may be what makes it great, but there’s nothing hard about watching this iconic and genuinely uplifting movie. (I also wrote more about it here.)

—Natalie Weiner

Speed Racer (2008)

Available to rent

One of my favorite movies of all-time, taking many aesthetic cues from anime and seamlessly bringing them into the live-action world with breathtaking visual effects. Speed Racer is visually explosive and a delight for the senses, with a grounded conflict at its core (a family business getting bought out by a heartless corporation). In my opinion, this is sports + movies in their best balance with each other.

— Pete Volk

The Heart of the Game (2005)

Available to rent

A hardscrabble team works diligently to overcome the odds, with a few twists. The movie centers on a girls basketball team from Roosevelt High School, 10 minutes from where I grew up in Seattle, and the star of the team gets pregnant. Bring tissues.

— Natalie Weiner

Uncut Gems (2019)

Available to rent

No movie better captures the anxiety of being a sports fan, or the bad decisions you make because of your fandom. Also sports luminaries Kevin Garnett and Mike Francesa deliver excellent performances. My favorite 2019 release! Louis wrote more about it here.

— Pete Volk

Undisputed II: Last Man Standing (2006)

Available on Starz and DirecTV

This is the height of me on-my-bullshit, but please allow it: Scott Adkins and Michael Jai White are generational action stars, and this entry in the excellent Undisputed series shows their singular talents at their best. White plays an ex-boxer framed for a crime and sent to prison, where he fights for his freedom in an underground MMA ring. Adkins plays the terrifying Yuri Boyka, the reigning prison champ. This is so up my alley it’s not even funny, and hopefully it’s up yours, too!

— Pete Volk

More Than a Game (2008)

Available on Starz

It’s very easy to take LeBron James for granted. After all, he’s been doing otherworldly things in the NBA for almost two decades now. Sometimes it just seems like he’s always existed, like he’ll just be inevitable forever. At a time when we’re (hopefully temporarily) deprived of watching him play basketball, it’s worth revisiting this great documentary about his origin story. Yes, he overcame seemingly insurmountable odds, but the part that sticks with you is the people around him — those who believed in him completely, and who he has been just as loyal to in return.

— Natalie Weiner