A sports movie is an extremely popular film genre which makes use of sport as the main theme of the movie. It’s usually a fictional production in which an athlete, game, sporting event, or fan of sport are heavily involved, and which rely on sport to an extent for their plot resolution or motivation. In this article we’ll take a look at just how they differ from more “traditional” genres and discuss some examples of why they’re becoming increasingly popular with movie-makers these days.
The first major difference between a sports film and other movies is the level of participation. With most sports it’s rare for non-sporty people to be apparent throughout, meaning most of the audience is comprised of people who participate in the actual sport itself. Contrast this with dramas, where it’s quite common for the audience to not only be comprised of people who are fundamentally committed to the plot, but also those who have only a passing interest in what’s happening. Sports films allow for all these levels of participation, and can therefore create stronger stories because of it.
Another difference between sports movies and other dramas is the level of physical activity that’s required. Whilst most games require a great deal of running and sprinting, even sports like tennis require physical contact. This physical contact and the associated energy and exertion helps provide the narrative with a strong sense of urgency – the viewers are constantly trying to keep ahead of their rivals, the athletes involved, so they are almost always motivated to do better, work harder, and improve on their game.
One of the key ingredients in sports films is mental preparation. It’s clear that to be as successful as possible in any sport, you need to have a powerful mental focus and fitness regime. This is especially true in rugby, where the physical demands put the players under extreme pressure to perform to the best of their ability, with little time or resources to prepare themselves for these conditions. The sport of rugby has been a great breeding ground for mind sports stories, some of which have won major awards, such as the Olympics and World Cup.
It’s this competition between man and machine, natural disaster and man against nature that make sports stories so fascinating to watch. And whilst rugby can be regarded as one of the extreme sports around, there are plenty of stories of ordinary people overcoming all odds to excel at the sport. And why shouldn’t we be enthralled by this? If a game like rugby can make you stronger, smarter and more fit, it should be no surprise that it can also make you smarter, fitter and stronger mentally too!
As with any story, there are two sides to the argument; the first arguing for fair play, whereby acts that would normally be deemed as unsportsmanlike are accepted as a natural part of the game, and the second arguing against it. Fair play exists to foster an environment in which players can learn and grow. But as well as nurturing sporting skills, it should be remembered that this same environment is what makes us human. Unfair plays can strip us of our skills, leaving us with less skill than we would otherwise have had. The second part of this article covers some of the psychological aspects surrounding sportsmanship, which is becoming more important now that people find themselves in a position where they must compete against far more physically superior opponents.