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Can’t practice outdoors? Do some film work


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The days of spring vacation are beginning to dwindle for local students, and the weather has been, well, not the best.

Finding yourself stuck inside more than you would like? I’ve got a few suggestions to help pass the time.

It is Jay’s Top 10 List of my favorite sports movies of all time.

Most of the movies on my list are considered solid movie fare but wouldn’t make any critics’ lists of top sports movies of all-time. That’s OK because we all know that we react differently to movies. I still can’t understand why “Major League” didn’t win the Oscar.

Sometimes, your enjoyment of a movie is just how you can relate to it. So here is my list. I hope you try a few if you haven’t seen them. These stand the test of time, although some are filmed in black and white.

Oh, and I will say that I only picked movies where the sport played a major role. “Caddyshack” was awesome, but it’s not really about golf.

I also didn’t include a great movie like “Field of Dreams” because I have a pretty hard time identifying with ghosts coming out of the cornfield.

No. 10: “Mystery, Alaska” (1999). Anyone who ever has grown up skating on a pond and dreaming about the NHL would enjoy this one, which had heavy-hitting actors Russell Crowe and Burt Reynolds in key roles. It is about a talented adult rec league team in Alaska getting to play an exhibition game against the New York Rangers. As a side note, my neighborhood pond hockey team used to play other teams from the area, and we thought we were pretty good, so we joined a league that played at an actual ice rink. We were so bad on rink ice that we had to be dropped into competition against kids three or four years younger than we were for an entire season.

No. 9: “The Harder They Fall” (1956). How could I resist this one? Humphrey Bogart (in his final film) plays a sportswriter who covers boxing and sells out to work with a corrupt promoter. Eventually Bogey sees the light. Rod Steiger plays the heavy.

No. 8: “The Mighty Ducks” (1992). I could easily have picked the “Bad News Bears” (1976) because the two are the same movie. A knucklehead coach thinks winning is the only thing in youth sports and ruins the time for his players until he has an epiphany. Emilio Estevez coaches the Ducks. Anyone who has been around the youth sports world has experienced this movie firsthand.

No. 7: “Trouble Along the Way” (1953). You can’t go wrong watching John Wayne play a newly hired head football coach at a Catholic college in New York. Although the program is abysmal, the “Duke” is told to win immediately. Backed into a corner, and with teams like Notre Dame and Army on his schedule, he cheats. Having covered college football for more than 20 years, I know many coaches have found themselves in similar situations.

No. 6: “Phar Lap” (1983). To someone who always has loved horse racing, this is a must-see film. The incredible story of this New Zealand and Australian legendary thoroughbred follows his life from 1926-32. At one point the gelding won 32 of 35 races and was a worldwide phenomenon. The horse survived an assassination attempt just before winning the Melbourne Cup in 1930 and eventually was thought to be poisoned with arsenic after being shipped to America.

No. 5: “Major League” (1989). If you can’t laugh at this one, you have some serious problems. A great cast, including Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes and Bob Uecker, take the sad-sack Cleveland Indians to the World Series despite the hopes of their team owner that they would fail so she could move the team. One of the really fun parts of the movie for me is when pitcher Ricky Vaughn, nicknamed “Wild Thing,” comes in to pitch in a playoff-game against the Yankees. Growing up a Yankees fan, it reminded me of when Sparky Lyle used to enter a game to “Pomp and Circumstance.” Of course, Vaughn’s entrance to The Troggs’ “Wild Thing” is awesome.

No. 4: “North Dallas Forty” (1979). A cynical look at professional football left many people questioning whether North Dallas Forty was an accurate description of the cut-throat relationships between players and management. In the movie, coaches would do anything to keep players on the field, and those players feel pressured to go along with the program. The management is ruthless, using up human beings and spitting them out. A fictional account? You be the judge. Nick Nolte and Mac Davis are the stars.

No. 3: “Hoosiers” (1986). You live in Indiana, so I don’t have to tell you much about this one. And while I think the film has some flaws, it carries the basic concepts that we could all follow. Hard work and determination lead to success and often allow us to overcome formidable odds. Gene Hackman is at his best.

No. 2: “Rocky” (1976). The original message got lost in all the following sequels, but this movie remains inspirational whether you are 5 or 85. If you put your heart and soul into something, the reward might not be greatness but a shot at greatness. Sylvester Stallone didn’t want the original Rocky movie to have a silly ending, so Rocky lost his championship bout. His triumph was turning his life around to get there.

No. 1: “Breaking Away” (1979). Dennis Quaid, Dennis Christopher, Daniel Stern and Jackie Earle Haley might not be happy with their lot in life as compared to the students at Indiana University, but a bicycle race shows them that they can compete on an even level with anyone. A great message in this movie. Our limitations usually are applied by ourselves.

Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at jheater@therepublic.com or 379-5632.

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