Best Sports Movies Ever for Teens

Best sports movies for teens|www.parentinghighschoolers.com

Written By Melanie Studer

Melanie Prather Studer has spent the last thirty years as a mother and teacher- preschool through middle school. When her kids became teenagers, Melanie started keeping notes and doing research to help her children get a head start on getting into college and ultimately out into the real world. She shares real world ideas and solutions for raising teens in today’s world.

May 20, 2020

Right now movies are the only way we can enjoy sports other than replays of former games.  As we start to have some sports like car racing, golf etc, it will be interesting to see how it all comes back… I can’t wait for live sports again, but in the meantime, here are the best sports movies for teens to enjoy.

I told my boys that I was writing this post, and they helped me to come up with this list. I have them grouped by sport for the most part. At the end, I include a short list of sports movies that are for older teens.  

I tried to keep most of these family friendly, but of course, you decide which movies are right to show to your teens. I love IMBD for checking out specifically why movies are rated what they are. 

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Most of these movies are based on true events and/or people. Most are uplifting. Many have great lessons about persistence, hard word, and dedication to name a few. I hope you will enjoy them! *This post may contain affiliate links.  This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.

Football 

Football is like life. It requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and respect for authority. -Vince Lombardi

High School

Remember the Titans -(PG) Based on true events. Loved Denzel as a coach with a lot to overcome!

Friday Night Lights -(PG-13) Based on true events. Great characters and a great story about the pressures of high school football.

The Blind Side -(PG-13) Based on true events. Inspiring story about love and doing the right thing.

When The Game Stands Tall -(PG) True story about a winning coach that tries to keep the streak going.

College/Pro

Brian’s Song-(the original) (G) Based on true events. Not going to lie, this is a tear jerker, but such a great story about love and friendship during some tough situations.

Invincible -(PG) Based on true events.The amazing story of Vince Papale. My middle son owns this movie, and he watches it all the time!

We Are Marshall -(PG) Based on the heartbreaking true story of the loss of an entire football team and the coach that rebuilt the team and the community.

Greater -(PG) Based on true events. This was a sleeper about the greatest walk-on in history who played for the University of Arkansas.

Rudy -(PG) Based on true events. Talk about determination.

Basketball 

One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team. -Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Hoosiers -(PG) Based on true events. This is an awesome story with an amazing cast! Gene Hackman is one of my favorites!

Coach Carter -(PG-13) Based on true events. This is a story of a controversial coach who values education.

Glory Road -(PG-13) Based on true events. Great story about a coach who led the first all-black team to the NCAA national championship.

The Winning Season -(PG-13) Not based on true events. Called The Bad News Bears of girl’s basketball. Cute movie!

The Last Dance-(TV-MA) This series is on Netflix right now. I walked through the living room a couple of times while my boys were watching this series. They loved it!

Baseball 

Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.” – Bullet Bob Feller

The Natural – (PG) Not based on true events. Awesome movie with Robert Redford, ’nuff said.

A League of Their Own -(PG) Based on true events. This is such a fun movie about the short-lived women’s baseball league during WW2. The cast is fabulous, and so many great one-liners and lessons to take away.

8 Men Out -(PG) Based on true events. I remember really liking this movie, even though it is about a team throwing their season back in 1919. Great cast and great lessons to be learned.

The Bad News Bears -(the original) (PG) Not based on true events. This movie was great when I was a kid, and my boys all love it as well.

Moneyball -(PG-13) Based on true events. This movie is about statistics, money, and how they affect the game of baseball. I have never thought about statistics in such a positive way before…

The Sandlot -(PG) Not based on true events. This movie has been a favorite in our house for years. Great movie about baseball, friends and growing up!

42 -(PG-13) Based on the life of Jackie Robinson. Such a great story!

The Rookie -(G) Based on true events. I love this movie! The story about a coach who makes a bet with his team, and he ends up having to live up to his side when they have a winning season. 

61* -(TV-MA) Based on true events. I have not seen this one, but it’s about the summer of 1961, and two baseball players competing to break Babe Ruth’s record for home runs.

For Love of the Game -(PG-13) Not based on true events. Kevin Costner in another great baseball role. It all takes place during one game while the protagonist is on the mound against the Yankees in a series of flashbacks. Another great cast.

Million Dollar Arm – (PG) Based on true events about converting cricket players to baseball players.

Soccer/Rugby 

The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.” –Pelé

Invictus -(PG-13) Based on true events. The wonderful true story of Nelson Mandela using the game of rugby to unite the country of South Africa. (I have a great friend from South Africa who lived through this happening, such an awesome story and movie!)

Bend It Like Beckham -(PG-13) Not based on true events. Great story about a young Indian woman who rebels against her parents to play soccer. 

United -(PG-13) Based on true events. Manchester United comes back after a tragic plane crash. I have not seen this one, but a friend said he loved it.

Pele: Birth of a Legend -(PG) Based on the life of Pele. Tells the story of his childhood up through him playing soccer for Brazil. Amazing story. One of my boys watched this at a friend’s house back when he played soccer a couple of years ago. He loved this movie!

The Miracle Match -(PG) Based on true events. This is the “miracle” story of the US men’s soccer team in the 1950 Brazil summer Olympics. This is another one that we haven’t seen, but the boys want me to order it. I will keep you posted:)

Boxing 

The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” – Muhammad Ali

Rocky -(PG) Not based on true events. Best underdog story. I don’t even like boxing, but this is a must-see. I did not realize that Sylvester Stallone wrote this! There are tons of sequels, but none as good as this first.

Million Dollar Baby -(PG-13) Not based on true events. I loved this movie, not so much for the boxing, as the characters, especially Morgan Freeman. I also loved how the girl never gave up!

Real Steel -(PG-13) Not based on true events. My boys insisted that this be included in the list for boxing movies even though, it’s not “people” boxing. It is a unique story which we all really liked. I hadn’t even thought of it, but the boys said to add this to my list. If you haven’t seen this, give it a try.

The Power of One -(PG-13) Not based on true events. This is an amazing movie about growing up in complicated times. An orphan boys in South Africa during apartheid learns some really difficult lessons. He not only overcomes them, but is able to use his skills as a boxer to take on the system and help change a way of life. 

Best sports movies ever for teens

Olympics 

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well. —Pierre de Coubertin, father of the modern Olympic Games

Cool Runnings -(PG) Based on true events. This is such a fun movie. Lots of memorable characters.

Miracle -(PG)  Based on true events. I remember watching this in real time, and the movie does a great job showing the whole story. 

Eddie the Eagle -(PG-13) Based on true events. Eddie is so determined, and what a fun movie. My youngest watched this one every day for awhile.

Unbroken -(PG-13) Based on true events. Louis Zamparini was an amazing young man who not only runs in the Olympics, he goes to hell and back during WW2. Amazing story of survival. Watch with Race.

The Cutting Edge -(PG) Not based on true events. Still a fun movie about pairs ice skating. The pair come together in an unusual way, and cannot stand each other, but need each other to compete. Great rom-com!

Golf 

Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots–but you have you have to play the ball where it lies.” -Bobby Jones

The Greatest Game Ever Played -(PG) Based on true events. A young golfer has dreams of challenging the top golfer of his day. Great underdog story!

The Legend of Bagger Vance -(PG-13) Not based on true events. Great movie about a golfer after WW2 who is looking to find and forgive himself, and to move forward. Golf is the vehicle for this transformation and life lessons learned. Wonderful cast.

Tommy’s Honour -(PG) Based on true events. This is the story of the development of the game of golf by a father and son.

Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius -(PG) Based on true events. This movie is a bit slow, but so interesting about a young man, Bobby Jones, battling many difficulties, including chronic pain in his spine, who has record-breaking success in 1930. 

Horse Racing 

A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character.” -Federico Tesio

Secretariat -(PG) Based on true events. I loved this movie! Such a great horse. Such a great story!

Seabiscuit -(PG-13) Based on true events. A small horse and a jockey team up with the trainer and a businessman for a great race. I think that I secretly always loved horses because this was another one I loved!

Dreamer -(PG) Based on true events. Such a sweet movie about a dad and daughter and a horse.

Hildago -(PG-13) Based on true events. This is such an amazing story about a 3,000 mile race through the Arabian Desert. Man and horse and all the elements–so good!

Track and Field 

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”     
— George Sheehan

Chariots of Fire -(PG) Based on true events. 1924 Olympics. Two men competing to prove more than who is faster. Classic!

McFarland, USA -(PG) Based on true events. Loved this movie! Another great underdog story. We watch it all the time:)

Race -(PG-13) Based on true events. This is the story of Jesse Owens  and the 1936 Olympics. Watch with Unbroken.

Other 

I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Breaking Away -(PG) Not based on true events. A young man who is obsessed with Italian cyclists. He also likes a girl… A great coming of age movie. (Only available on Prime Video.)

The Karate Kid-(the original) ( PG) Not based on true events. You probably have seen this, but if you have only seen the remake, this one is worth watching!

Ford vs. Ferrari – (PG-13) Based on true events. Not available for purchase yet. We all loved this true story about fast cars and friendship. (Only available on Prime Video for now).

Touching the Void -(R) Based on true events. Read this book last fall, and I had no idea that there was a movie. The events that occurred on this mountain in Peru are nothing less than amazing. The re-enactment will have you on the edge of your seat. (This is rated R, but mostly for language, and the horror of the accident.)

The World’s Fastest Indian -(PG-13) Based on true events. A man and his motorcycle go fast. I loved this movie because it is such a great story. Great cast!

Soul Surfer -(PG) Based on true events. I just saw this for the first time the other day. It was really great. You would never find me going back into that water again. This girl is amazing for many reasons-that only being one of them!

Battle of the Sexes -(PG-13) Based on true events. I almost put this on the older teens list for a couple of reasons. This was a great movie, and I loved the way the movie showed how much women had to do to get any sort of equality on and off the tennis court. Wow, I had no idea that was happening when I was a kid! 

The Last American Hero -(PG) Based on true events. This is an oldie and a bit clunky-definitely not a smooth modern-day racing movie. The cast is great, and it shows the story of Junior Johnson becoming a racetrack driver after delivering moonshine. My boys loved all the old cars. (The link is for Amazon prime video.)

The Gabby Douglas Story -(NR) Based on true events. I have not seen this one. My friend who has a daughter/gymnast says it is a great family movie.

Free Solo -(PG-13) Based on true events. A man climbs the face of a mountain with no ropes, nothing… Incredible story! 

For older teens 

(On this list because of rating)

Wildcats -(R) Not based on true events, but still a great movie! Goldie Hawn stars as wanna-be coach who ends up with a job that no one wants. I loved this because all she wants to do is coach like her dad did. She finally gets to live her dream. This is rated R, but mostly for language. 

Major League -(R) Not based on true events. This movie is a fun look at a losing team who somehow figures out that their owner wants them to lose so that she can move the team.

Ali -(R) Based on true events. My boys all loved this one. I have not seen this one.

Tin Cup -(R) Not based on true events. Down and out golfer wants to make it to the US Open and get the girl. Great cast.

Here’s my list of the best sports movies for teens. This post was really fun to write with my boys, and we have been watching a ton of these lately. I have always loved sports, and I also love movies. This is one of my favorites genres I think! If I have missed any that you love, let me know!

Other movie posts: 25 Movies About Love, 49 Movies to Watch for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas 

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