Everyone remembers watching their first sports movie. An underdog team becomes State Champions; a has-been gets another shot at the podium. Regardless of the sport, this genre tells stories of the human spirit prevailing over adversity; in these instances, we cannot help but feel driven to achieve our own goals as the end credits roll.
The reality is that sports movies have been around since the era of silent films, and today, most use the Heroism archetype to induce emotion in their viewers. Notable examples include Remember The Titans. That said, Hollywood also promotes this ease of achieving sporting success, which was even visible in movies 100 years ago.
In the 1915 sports comedy The Champion, Charlie Chaplin finds a lucky horseshoe, puts it in his boxing glove and goes on to beat the world champion. In There’s Only One Jimmy Grimble, Grimble is given a pair of “magic boots” and then dominates the soccer pitch. And in The Rookie, a 35-year-old high school teacher attends an open tryout and then makes his MLB debut months later.
Inspiration Without The Details
Sports movies today often portray inspirational stories that pull on heartstrings but leave out crucial industry details. Ultimately, this inspiration without proper facts fools viewers into thinking if they get one thing, one opportunity, they can make it in the big leagues.
For instance, while The Rookie (2002) is based on the true story of Jim Morris, who did make his MLB debut at 35-years-old after throwing 12 consecutive 98-mph fastballs at an open tryout, the process of open tryouts is more laborious than the movie portrays. Today, as NBC News explains, scouts at open tryouts evaluate players based on five tools— hitting, hitting for power, fielding, throwing, and running. Jim Morris only had one of the five, throwing, which today wouldn’t be enough to grab the attention of a Major League scout.
Similarly, movies like Happy Gilmore undermine what goes into becoming a professional golfer and winning a tour championship.
Not The First Time
Of course, Hollywood leaves out details in other genres, too. One example is the 1988 drama film Rain Man, which, as per Aruma, was inspired by the story of Kim Peek and went on to win several Academy Awards. In the movie, there is a scene where Raymond and Charlie Babbitt win continuously in a blackjack game. Due to the scene’s simplicity, many viewers have been made to believe turning the tables on the house is easy.
However, as Bonusfinder explains, even though there is some truth in it, such as Charlie doubling up against a weak dealer and the dealer questioning Raymond hitting 18, the scene is not representative of how the gambling industry works. While the main issue is the presence of other players at the table, additionally, online casino gaming doesn’t allow this either. A look on Bonusfinder shows a whole plethora of online casinos that don’t present such opportunities. So, even though Raymond is good at reading the deck, there were other players at the table keeping count, which, in reality, would affect the results of the game.
Nothing’s Impossible But It’s Hard Work
Hollywood isn’t trying to trick us, but the more variables there are, the more uncertainty there is. In Rain Man and The Rookie, what the two main characters did isn’t impossible, but it’s harder than what the directors made it look like. All’s fair in love and war, though. People watch movies as a form of escapism, and sometimes, suffocating viewers with uninspiring details may be what breaks a film at the box office.
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