October is a unique time of year as far as the world of sports in North America is concerned. Baseball is heading into the home stretch with the World Series coming our way. Football is about a month into the season. Hockey's pre-season is ending with the promise of a new chase to the Stanley Cup about to be under way. Even basketball is in the midst of training camp with their regular season starting at the end of the month. And for those of you who follow professional soccer on this side of the pond, that is still going on too. Yes, all (male) major league sports are present in one way or another during October - a busy time for the networks in addition to the MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLS.
But even though there's such a wide variety of real sports games to be watching this time of year, I'm going to give my little ode right now to sports movies. I love them, I always have. More often than not they're stories about the underdog team or athlete working hard and with just enough guts and determination, they're able to beat whatever Golliath they're facing. And as corny as it may be, I love it when these sports tales are commenting on something much greater than just the final score. Miracle wasn't just about a hockey team, it was about a country needing something to believe in when it felt hopeless. Remember the Titans was about more than high school football, it was about looking at race relations in 1960s America and the idea that a small group of people, even a high school football team, can make a difference. The Replacements captures the idea of having a second chance to live your dream. The incomperable The Mighty Ducks shows how even misfits have a place to belong. And though I'm not really one for watching golf, The Legend of Baggar Vance uses the game of golf as a metaphor for life, something that "can't be won, only played."
But that's not always the case, they don't always win or end in the traditional happily ever after, and those stories (fiction or fact) are almost even more endearing to me. Rudy is based on the true story of a young man who only ever dreamed of playing Notre Dame football, and for all his hard work for four long years, he got to dress for one game and participate in two plays. In Mystery, Alaska, a small-town Alaskan team puts up a hell of a fight against the New York Rangers and though they fall short when the final buzzer sounds, the movie is about a team with a lot of heart who really didn't lose when you consider the big picture.
I could go on and on. True, I love it when a movie or story is based on something that actually happened (such as Invictus - if you haven't seen it, you should), but they all carry the same tone with me. Sometimes, it really is more than "just a game" and though winning is always the preferred outcome, the bigger message is about laying it all out on the field, ice, court, etc. and giving the situation your absolute best so that when you do walk away or look back later in life, there are no regrets. So here's to the sports movies and the many metaphors they stand for.
Oh, and Go Blackhawks!!