One way to mitigate the inevitable letdown of fading summer is to look ahead to fall sports. This struck me when I walked into a bar the other night and caught sight of those familiar royal blue Giants jerseys on TV. Yes, pre-season is here, and it seemed all eyes were on that screen. Watching the game, I could almost feel those cool autumn breezes.
Even as we wait a few more weeks for the football and basketball seasons to officially launch, we still have our grand national pastime to divert us. Assuming your team is in contention, the closer we get to the playoffs, the more exciting each game becomes.
But you don't need to just rely on live action to scratch your sports itch. Netflix offers up some excellent sports movies to stream most anytime, regardless of season. Oddly, our favorite baseball movies (“Pride Of The Yankees,” “Bull Durham,” “Field of Dreams,” and “A League of Their Own”) are either unavailable or only rentable on DVD — for now, at least. “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” (Try Amazon Prime for these instead.)
Still, there are plenty of other titles — and sports — to choose from, from games that require more skill than physical exertion (pool, archery) to activities only the fittest among us would attempt (surfing, mountain climbing). And then of course, there are those previously referenced fall spectator sports that make the cold weather bearable for so many of us.
Here are just eight titles that earn victory laps.
The Hustler (1961)
Paul Newman is a cocky young pool shark who gets a chance at the big time, and we mean big, when he plays against Jackie Gleason.
The Endless Summer (1966)
Along with the Beach Boys, this beautiful doc from Bruce Brown turned surfing into a craze, and it’s easy to see why. Catch this wave.
Brian’s Song (1971)
This touching made-for-TV movie relates the true story of a pro football player (James Caan) stricken with a fatal disease. It's much more than a weepy though; Caan is amazing.
Sly Stallone’s Oscar-winning breakthrough centers on a palooka who sets out to win the heavyweight championship against stiff odds. "Yo, Adrian!"
Sean Astin is small to be a football player, but still makes the Notre Dame team. In this inspiring film, he ultimately proves himself via sheer grit and spirit.
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Steve James’s brilliant, fascinating documentary follows four basketball hopefuls whose only ticket out of the inner city is a basketball scholarship. Who will score?
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Hot-shot sports agent (Tom Cruise) overreaches and is forced to become an independent, with just one client (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). He finds love along the way. Don't miss this charmer.
The Heart of The Game (2005)
In this thoroughly disarming doc, a tax law professor starts coaching a girls’ high school basketball team in Seattle, and over time, turns their fortunes around.
More: Five Top Football Movies