Man, I was naïve to think that sports movies weren’t also insanely sexy. And truthfully, sports terrify me. The times I’ve found myself in the crowd at a game were because I like to pay for good vibes, ones consisting of overpriced hot dogs and beers. Can’t we root for something safer, like knitting? All my memories of playing softball involve being hit by a ball on the field or benched in a dugout and somehow still being hit by a ball there. I was yearning for togetherness and hope during a year where I needed it most and sports entertainment more than provided, opening me to a heartwarming genre I was skeptical of until I was in the throes of pandemic isolation. While I’m not ready to get out of my jersey sheets and into a team jersey, I’ll blissfully watch fictional athletes sweat it out on the court, supporting each other, from the comfort of my own bed. While I didn’t love seeing a mean Tom Hanks scratch his balls, seeing Geena Davis catch a fastball with one hand will forever loop in my brain in the form of serotonin. Their streaming category began with “feel good” and that’s exactly what I wanted to do. There’s always a hater who doesn’t believe in our main character or a jerk who is threatened by their potential, and in the end, the hater is wrong and the jerk often turns into a lover or friend. But I’ve spent this year alone in my studio, with more time than usual to consider entertainment categories I’d once dismissed. I don’t watch them. Here’s the thing with these movies and shows: They’re about being an underdog, coming together, inspiring hope, and proving the haters wrong. Next, Love & Basketball. I mean, there’s literally a medic and stretcher on standby at games. Plus, seeing both Michael B. A movie about a sport that makes me wince? We’re talking romance, hot bods, passionate pep talks — and I was hung up on some throws and kicks being made? I love coaches who believe in their players more than the players believe in themselves. Blitz? I also breezed through Ted Lasso, a show I wanted to hate — most simply, it’s about sports and a clueless American abroad — but simply couldn’t. They’re called contact sports for a reason and that contact is dangerous. Why are we so skeptical of the things right in front of us? “Turns Out It’s Pretty Good” is a series that examines the path from resisting the well-known to wholeheartedly endorsing it. I love to cry and a good rom-com, and honestly, sports movies are just rom-coms for people who know what lat muscles are. I don’t play sports. I’m not a sports person. Portrait of a Lady on Fire–level gazing), and therefore, I can relate. An emotional journey about chasing your dreams, but notably for me, also a scene featuring a clothes-stripping version of H-O-R-S-E. Blue 42? And then, A League of Their Own. Jordan and Tessa Thompson on the same screen, flirting, just about broke my brain, and in a stunning display of the spectrum of my sexuality, I genuinely didn’t know which of the two characters I was jealous of. Why didn’t anyone tell me sports movies are about more than just sports? It’s Indian and queer (okay, technically not, but the way Jules looked at Jess? And I love movies that end with an L in the game but a W in life. I didn’t know what I expected, maybe just athletes running around for two hours, but that is, in fact, a live game and not a scripted movie. Growing up, I was put in many sports and failed miserably at each one. And Creed? They can also be tears-obstructing-my-vision emotional: Coach Carter. (I’m not too fond of the sound of a knuckle meeting a skull, which is tough because the point of boxing is to continuously throw punches until someone falls to the ground.) Well, I laughed during a chicken-related training montage, cried when Donnie received a symbolic pair of shorts, and by the end, I needed him to continue fighting. I guess when your head is a magnet for baseballs, it’s easy to lose interest. I started with Bend It Like Beckham. By Ria Sardana
Photo: Warner Bros. Yes, a good amount took place in a locker room, but to my delight there were very few towels wrapped around waists, and Jason Sudeikis brought relentless dorkiness into a place that could use more of it. After watching the pilot of Friday Night Lights three times over multiple years and being too emotionally distraught to continue, I finally did — and, sorry, but this 30-year-old California girl is moving to Texas and enrolling in high school! If there’s anything that motivates me the most, it’s proving my haters wrong, and unfortunately, my exact romantic type is “hot, reformed jerk.”
Now that I’ve given them a chance, I’m all-in on sports movies and television shows. Since hanging up my glove at the age of 12, I’ve avoided sports movies and shows. Plus, many sports movies seem set in locker rooms, and I had no interest in scenes where towels stay perfectly wrapped around perfectly fit bodies, partially because I firmly believe this is an outright lie. Hut, hut, hike? Then there’s TV, providing seasons of tears and motivational speeches. I’ve never fastened a towel around me so perfect that I could walk for longer than two seconds without having to do it all over again. One night, I turned to sports movies. Why would I want to watch sweaty people chant phrases I don’t understand? Both Ted Lasso and Coach Taylor have different approaches, but ultimately they have big hearts and give damn good pep talks, and maybe that is all I want in life, especially this year. Good-bye!