Top 10 sports movies where the protagonist loses

Rocky is one of the best examples of a sports film, but Sylvester Stallone recently commented that it’s not a sports film at all. It’s hard to argue with the actor considering he wrote the classic film, though Rocky is a sports film in every sense of the genre, and it’s even essentially lost the protagonist’s twist.


In the wake of Rocky, few films have been bold enough to show the heroic athlete or team failure after two hours of training and preparation for the greatest event of their lives. Whether it’s boxing, bowling or bobsledding, these films undermine the sports cliché of the protagonist winning.

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Kingpin (1996)

Stream on Prime Video and Paramount+

kingpin A lot gets overlooked when it comes to discussing great sports movies, and that might be because it’s not the typical melodrama that sports movies usually are. Instead, the movie, about veteran bowler Roy Munson who cripples his bowling hand, is one of the funniest comedies of the 1990s.

However, years later, Roy still manages to bowl with a rubber hand, and he enters a contest where he can win $1 million and beat his opponent, who happens to be the very person who damaged his hand. And surprisingly, the film still packs a surprisingly emotional punch as Roy loses the tournament by just one pin.

Whip It (2009)

Stream on Prime Video

In 2009, actress Drew Barrymore tried her hand at directing when she directed the sports comedy whip it. The film follows teenage girl Bliss Cavendar as she joins a roller derby team and despite not having her mother’s support and going through typical teenage difficulties, she still pursues her dream.

The result is one of the best films by an actor-turned-director, largely due to how Barrymore manages to transform a crushing and heartbreaking moment into something more optimistic and heartfelt. Despite losing the championship game, Bliss’ team still bonds as a team and even chants, “We’re number two!”

Cool Runs (1993)

Stream on Disney+

As an upbeat and fun Disney sports film, Cool runs is full of comedy and good humor, but it doesn’t follow exactly the same formula as The Mighty Ducks or any other Disney sports film where the protagonists lightheartedly win. The 1993 film is based on the real-life Jamaican bobsleigh team that competed against all odds in the 1988 Winter Olympics.

But while they impressed and surprised millions, the bob turned and they lost, but they still finished the race by carrying the sled across the finish line. Cool runs is one of the best movies based on a true story, and while the crew didn’t come back home with any medals, they’re still heroes to thousands of ’90s kids.

Rocky (1976)

Rent on Prime Video and Apple TV

Rocky is Sylvester Stallone’s best film as it proved that he was not only a great actor but also a great writer and single-handedly created a billion dollar franchise. But there wasn’t a film in the series that even came close to recapturing the magic of the original Rocky.

The film is a sports film like no other as it follows the titular character as he trains and puts everything he’s got into his battle with Apollo Creed, only to end up not remotely triumphant. The character’s struggle throughout the film was wasted, but it makes the film all the more impactful. Not only that, but it made Rocky’s comeback in the sequel that much more spectacular.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Stream on HBO Max

The end of the Clint Eastwood direction million dollar baby break up Rocky Looking like the greatest champion in the world, not only does Maggie lose her last fight, but her whole world comes crashing down around her. After being knocked unconscious, she becomes a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic, and her leg will have to be amputated when it becomes infected.

The film has a morbid and emotionally draining ending when Maggie begs Frankie to kill her because she believes there is no point in living if she cannot fight. million dollar baby is not exactly a thrilling sports flick, but it is an engrossing and wonderful sports drama with a female lead.

Bring It Up (2000)

Rent on Prime Video and Apple TV

On paper, a movie about cheerleaders doesn’t exactly sound like an exciting sports movie, especially considering the number of poor-quality direct-to-video sequels that have followed. But the very first Bring it on is such a fun teen comedy and viewers are surprisingly caught up in the competitive nature of the sport.

The film sees the film heroes Toros compete in the championship competition against their rivals, the Clovers, and end up narrowly losing. And as is the cliché at the end of sports movies, where the “bad guy” team has a newfound respect for the underdog winners, the same thing happens in Bring it on.

Tin Cup (1996)

Stream on Showtime

While it doesn’t say much as it’s a niche subgenre and not many of them are highly regarded, pewter mug is the best movie about golf. The romantic sports flick follows a golf prodigy who makes it to the end of the US Open only to repeatedly miss the same shot multiple times and lose the tournament.

While winning isn’t always the most realistic thing that can happen in a sports movie, almost everything else revolves around it pewter mug is hilariously unrealistic. Roy puts on a play for his therapist and the two start dating and it’s the worst thing a therapist could do, but it makes for a great romantic comedy.

Eddie the Eagle (2016)

Stream on Disney+

1988 was a huge year for unprecedented events at the Olympic Games. Along with the Jamaican bobsled team, Michael Edwards became the first British skier to represent Britain in 60 years. And just like the Jamaican team, Edwards was a complete underdog. Eddie the eagle shows how the skier struggled to fit in with other skiers after years of being rejected by other ski groups and officials, but with several English records under his belt, he finally makes it to the Olympics.

However, after being warned to wait four years until the next games so he can practice more, Eddie doesn’t listen and ends up last in the event. But the film is still inspirational as Edwards already said at the age of 10 that he would compete in the Olympics and although he didn’t win his dream still came true.

Money Ball (2011)

Stream on Hulu and Tubi

money ball It’s not about baseball players, and it barely dramatizes winning and losing games to the end. Instead, it’s about the teams’ strategy of which players to buy, which makes it seem original in a sea of ​​dozens of run-of-the-mill baseball movies.

The film is the perfect example of a team going from scratch to hero as Billy Beane turns The Athletics into an incredible team by hiring great but unknown players on a tiny budget. However, the Athletics are still losing to the Minnesota Twins in the American League division, but it’s still a huge achievement for a team that initially struggled so much.

Coach Carter

Stream on BET+

Samuel L. Jackson always spits out the best knockdowns and hurls the best insults with his commanding voice. And in movies like pulp fiction and The Hateful Eight, he even gives epic speeches that just humiliate people. But with such command of English and incredible lines, he can deliver just as empowering and uplifting speeches, audiences just don’t see them as often.

Coach Carter sees the titular character (Jackson) give his high school basketball team some of the greatest monologues and transform them from a group of youngsters into achievers. The team loses their last game, but Carter and his boys still take comfort in the fact that they achieved their academic goals.

NEXT: The 10 best sports movies according to Reddit

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