TopSportsMoviesBracket.indd

It’s the bottom of the ninth, and the good guys are on the 50-yard line, a buzzer-beating three-pointer the only thing standing between them and soul-crushing defeat.

The only way to get the girl/save the farm/defeat injustice is to ensure that the ball makes it to the end zone/through the net/into the hole.

The dramatic potential of sports has created a lucrative well from which Hollywood repeatedly has drawn over the years.

With the recent 30th anniversary of a beloved sports movie — 1989’s Iowa-set “Field of Dreams” — and the arrival later this month of cast members from two more — “A League of Their Own” and “The Sandlot,” the Telegraph Herald is letting local residents weigh in on their favorite sports movies.

In the weeks leading up to the start of the Team of Dreams event at the Field of Dreams movie site in Dyersville, the TH is asking readers to vote for their favorite films. We’ve narrowed the field to 32 flicks, each of which will go head-to-head today and Saturday, Aug. 17, in online voting at TelegraphHerald.com/sportsmovies. The winners will advance to the final 16, then a new round of voting will start, with the process continuing until we’ve crowned the tri-states’ favorite sports movie.

There is, however, one very notable omission: “The Field of Dreams” itself. While the film certainly has earned its place as a top-tier sports movie, we felt that its inclusion would skew the results.

Many eastern Iowans have personal connections to — or even appeared as extras in — “Field of Dreams.” The movie site remains a popular tourist destination and a huge contributor to the area’s cultural identity.

In short, it is tough to imagine a scenario in which the Kevin Costner vehicle wouldn’t bulldoze a path to victory. So we thought we would give some other films a chance.

Here is the field of 32, with each film summed up in 10 or fewer words:

1 SEEDS

  • “A League of Their Own” — Women’s pro baseball league springs up during World War II.
  • “The Sandlot” — Ball-playing kids befriend baseball-hoarding, legendarily ferocious dog.
  • “Hoosiers” — Coach faces small-town challenges as school contends for title.
  • “Rocky” — Small-time boxer gets title chance. Film spawns seven sequels.

2 SEEDS

  • “Friday Night Lights” — Tough coach steers high schoolers in football-crazy Texas town.
  • “Caddyshack” — Country club caddies coddle golfers while greenskeeper combats gopher.
  • “Moneyball” — Breaking with tradition, baseball nerds use math and team wins.
  • “Remember the Titans” — Black coach integrates Virginia high school football team.

3 SEEDS

  • “Rudy” — Hard-working kid overcomes hurdles to play for Notre Dame.
  • “Bull Durham” — Veteran catcher mentors minor-league pitching prospect.
  • “Jerry Maguire” — Rising sports agent fired for honesty bonds with star player.
  • “The Longest Yard” — Prisoners versus guards in football. What could go wrong?

4 SEEDS

  • “Raging Bull” — Robert De Niro plays middleweight boxing champ, wins Oscar.
  • “The Blind Side” — Adoptive parents raise foster child. He becomes football star.
  • “Slap Shot” — Struggling hockey team’s player-coach signs bruising Hanson brothers.
  • “Major League” — Designed for failure, Cleveland Indians surprisingly win with oddballs.

5 SEEDS

  • “The Natural” — Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs crushes baseball. Lights explode!
  • “The Mighty Ducks” — OWI arrest leads to youth hockey coaching community service.
  • “Happy Gilmore” — Hockey player turns to golf. Memorably fights Bob Barker.
  • “42” — Jackie Robinson becomes first black ballplayer in Major Leagues.

6 SEEDS

  • “Million Dollar Baby” — Waitress dreams of boxing triumph. Crusty old trainer eventually helps.
  • “Space Jam” — Bugs Bunny plays basketball against aliens! Michael Jordan also appears.
  • “The Bad News Bears” — Grizzled coach leads hapless youth team on unlikely title run.
  • “The Karate Kid” — Unlikely friendship develops between karate teacher, bullied boy.

7 SEEDS

  • “Chariots of Fire” — Olympic running pair take different paths to go for gold.
  • “The Pride of the Yankees” — Gary Cooper stars as disease-stricken Yankees legend Lou Gehrig.
  • “Bend it Like Beckham” — Soccer-loving girl defies parents, stars for local women’s team.
  • “Brian’s Song” — Chicago Bears teammates face one’s cancer diagnosis together.

8 SEEDS

  • “Creed” — Rocky Balboa returns to train young boxing hopeful.
  • “Miracle” — Scrappy American ice hockey team upsets Soviets at 1984 Olympics.
  • “Rookie of the Year” — Broken arm healed, Little Leaguer unexpectedly pitches for Chicago Cubs.
  • “White Men Can’t Jump” — Streetball hustlers thrive. Girlfriend dreams of “Jeopardy!” appearance.

Whittling the field down to 32 movies was a difficult effort. Among those that narrowly missed the cut were:

  • “Angels in the Outfield”
  • “Cinderella Man”
  • “Cool Runnings”
  • “Dodgeball”
  • “Hoop Dreams”
  • “I, Tonya”
  • “Seabiscuit”
  • “Secretariat”
  • “Talladega Nights”
  • “Tin Cup”
  • “The Wrestler”
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