The Official Cinematic Top-25
It’s common knowledge that professional college football rankers know nothing about their job and are always wrong. I mean, Western Michigan is in the Top 25, so CFB rankers are saying that if W. Michigan plays anyone aside from the 20 teams ranked ahead of them, more often then not, W. Michigan would win. That is shenanigans and I will not stand for it.
Now, the AP and the College Football Playoff Committee have the monopoly on college football rankings, and the undeserved accumulated trust of the nation. So I thought that I would approach the top 25 ranking in a different way, which I presume will lead to national media outlets begging me to produce my own CFB rankings.
In this list, I compile what I believe to be the best cinematic sports teams of all time. Obviously there is the small issue of the teams playing different sports, so I have tried to put them on a level playing field, comparing who would win in a general sporting contest. I will be factoring in athletic ability, for sure, but also taking into account heart and scrappiness. The climactic speech by the coach or leader of the rag tag crew is weighted heavily. So if, for example, I listened to your speech the night before I got married (I’m looking at you Billy Bob Thornton) you and your team will skyrocket up the rankings. Supernatural effects or crazy circumstances going one team’s way during big games will not be assumed to be an isolated incident, and will be taken as a sign that God wants them to win more, and will thus play into the rankings.
So without further ado: The Cinematic Top-25
- Flint Tropics (Semi-Pro)
Right out of the gate we have a team with more heart than athletic ability, but the heart they have, they have in spades. Jackie Moon headlines a team with half of Outkast and a former Boston bartender, but somehow beats the Spurs to come in forth in the ABA. The Tropics earn their spot here largely due to good management and game-planning. They received their star point guard by trading their washing machine, a shrewd move that the 76ers may be prudent to consider. Likewise, it’s hard to ignore the role that the Tropics played in basketball history, with Jackie Moon’s invention of the alley-oop.
- Team Foxcatcher (Foxcatcher)
In Juxtaposition with number 25, Team Foxcatcher comes in with far more athletic ability than heart. Mark and Dave Schultz lead a group of wrestlers in training for the Olympics, so they’re in pretty good shape. The only reason that they are not higher on the list is their insane coach Michael Scott. Also, the movie’s kind of a bummer, and I don’t want to waste a higher spot on a movie I feel weird joking about.
- Definitely not the Washington Redskins (The Replacements)
Balancing heart and athleticism well, the Washington Sentinels won three of their last four games with replacement players during an NFL strike. Led by a very depressing yet scrappy quarterback, the Sentinels proved that they could win…against other replacements. I find it hard to place this team any higher because if they truly were any good, they wouldn’t need to be scabs crossing the picket line. Also the movie reinforces hurtful stereotypes about Offensive Linemen and their love of food.
- Average Joes Gym (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story)
All the heart in the world, and no earth shattering speech at the end? That decision of Notre Dame fan and all around great guy Vince Vaughn leaves me up at night, but the scrappiness on that team forces me to put it on the list. I truly believe that, in a general athletic event, the heart of Average Joe’s player Kate Veatch would propel her to victory over Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz.
- US Figure Skating Team (Blades of Glory)
Fire and Ice. Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy. Have your ever seen something so beautiful as their routine together. Combined with the Van Waldenbergs, the US team was stacked that year. Maybe this team can’t beat the teams above it athletically, I mean c’mon they don’t even have Johnny “Hit Stick” Weir on their side, but in Trump’s America we need a reminder that two men truly can skate together, and it’s okay, neigh, beautiful.
- Richmond High School (Coach Carter)
The first of the many high school classics on the list, Richmond High is your classic team of talented, yet undisciplined street youths. With Samuel L. Jackson coaching them, though, there isn’t much anyone can’t do. Richmond is a strong team, but take away the coach, and it’s like you don’t have a movie.
- Milan High School (Hoosiers)
Hoosiers: from a great state but an overrated movie. Not bad, but it definitely doesn’t live up to the hype. I am qualified to say this because I’ve seen it once when I was 12…aka kind of an expert. The biggest black mark from this movie is that South Bend loses in the end, which in my opinion is historically inaccurate. Otherwise, a good show of grit.
- The Bears (Bad News Bears)
From a classic in the “making fun of un-athletic children” genre, The Bears are surprisingly high on this list. When it was just the nerds, sure The Bears would have lost to anyone, but when the cool kids come in everything changes: the girl and the outcast. They are what makes the team fun to watch, or at least as fun as baseball can be to watch.
- The Sandlot Crew
Essentially the same as above, just with a better catch phrase: “You’re killing me smalls.”
- The Miami Sharks (Any Given Sunday)
Here we go, we finally got one, a legendary and awe inspiring speech from a speech-impeded Al Paccino. LL Cool J and Jaimie Foxx are on the team, so their coolness factor is not in question, even if Dennis Quaid is on the team. That is not enough to get them up to 16 though. It’s that glorious speech that every high school head coach tries to emulate before the big game that they are almost definitely going to win. It’s the inches and the yards, the admittance that you don’t like who you are in the mirror, which is worth far more than athletic ability when all is said and done.
- Mr. Olympia Contestants (Pumping Iron)
Arnold Schwarzenegger, his version of mini-me who can also lift cars, and the Hulk, its hard to argue their dominance. Combine this athletic ability with deft governance and a quote comparing curling and ejaculation, this team will be the fear of everyone in this hypothetical contest. Unfortunately, I’m a man of principle, and thus this team can only be 15 because of the mandatory PED testing.
- Giants (Little Giants)
It may seem counterintuitive to have this team of preteens as likely to beat Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno, but I don’t care. If you don’t like it make your own list. In the meantime, I have a few words for you: The Annexation of Puerto Rico.
- Chicago White Sox (Field of Dreams)
The heart is what conjures them, but seriously, it’s a team of ghosts. How do you beat that, they are ethereal. The reason they aren’t any higher is the mere fact of logistics. Do we need special ghost balls? Can they truly participate in contact sports? We have all of these important unanswered questions, and people are worried about silly things like the merits of the electoral college.
- South African Rugby Team (Invictus)
The team that ended racism in South Africa: If that isn’t heart I don’t know what is. Who knew all those years of awful violence and protest, and everything could be solved by a rugby team. With athletic ability and heart to spare, these boys could make a playoff push with a little bit more consistent success.
- The Mean Machine (The Longest Yard)
You could argue that this one is unfair because you have the original and the remake to pull from. Obviously you take Burt Reynolds over Adam Sandler, but you definitely pick up Terry Crews and Nelly. With Crews being a former professional football player, and Nelly ballin’ with the St. Lunatics on NBA Street Vol. 2, this team is stacked with athletic ability. And with mustache counting a ton towards heart, this team is a real force. The Prison Crew could have been in the top 10 easily.
- US National Hockey Team (Miracle)
Do you believe in miracles? Well this list certainly does, and if the US national team can perform miracles far be it from me to exclude them from the top 10. Also, you can’t deny the fact that they alone destroyed the Soviet Union. I mean the facts are right there: They beat the USSR in 1980, and nine short years later the wall falls.
- TC Williams Titans (Remember the Titans)
Another example of how sports helps to bring people together. This team brought my hometown of Alexandria, Virginia together, and like we are told to, we will always remember them. We’ve got Dr. Turk and Ryan Gossling on the same team, that’s what we call brains and brawn. Sunshine was actually a fairly successful college quarterback after the events of the film, too. The team wasn’t that big, and was beset with injuries, but they were scrappy and resilient.
- Angels (Angels in the Outfield)
Angels…they have angels on their team. Do you think you can beat angels? If yes, so did the devil and see where that got him. The lack of a really good speech, though, really kills this team in the rankings. Combine this team and Al Paccino’s speech, and watch them shoot up the rankings. Definitely something they should look at in the off-season.
- Permian Panthers (Friday Night Lights)
This is the one, this is the best speech in movie history. I’ve listened to this speech before exams and my wedding alike. The Panthers shouldn’t be this high. They lost, and if you haven’t heard as of last Tuesday being a loser has been outlawed in this country. But Billy Bob Thornton’s speech, combined with Explosions in the Sky’s soundtrack, truly makes this team a contender. Also the refs had it out for them, so that was annoying.
- The Ducks (The Mighty Ducks)
Gordon Bombay is potentially one of the all time greats when it comes to coaching. Thankfully he is starting to get his due credit, as evidenced by his upcoming 30 for 30. This team truly understands what it means to be a team, and has rallied around each other. Their mantra has rung true since they exploded onto the scene: “Ducks fly together!” Also if you question why this team is ranked higher than the team that beat the Soviets in the same sport, tough luck I refer you to my previous comment. Make your own list.
- The Jamaican Bobsled Team (Cool Runnings)
As a team this is the winner of the heart category. All of the members were trained sprinters except Sanka, who has a lucky egg so it kind of evens out the athletic balance. This team had never seen the snow, let alone gone to Canada and had a bunch of hijinks that ends in a motivational tale that I will show my children the moment they are able to process such an amazing and inspirational account. Heart could have propelled this team all the way to the top spot, they even had a motto, but alas they lost. And as I said, losers’ stock is way down right now.
- 1976 Philadelphia Eagles (Invincible)
This is a real pro football team, albeit not very good, so athletically there is that. Also there is a ton of heart, Mark Wahlberg as always stealing the show. This is a man that could have stopped 9/11, so I can only imagine how incredibly beneficial his presence was for the Eagles.
- Tune Squad (Space Jam)
The greatest game ever played, with the greatest lineup ever seen. His Airness himself, Bugs, Lola, Daffy, and Taz. Once they got the poorly named “Michael’s Secret Stuff” in them it was game over for the Monstars. I don’t feel the need to explain why a team that can dunk from the half court line is number three on the list; it’s self-explanatory. Instead I would just like to bemoan a serious oversight in the NBA’s judgment. After this game, why was Bill Murray not awarded the 6th man award? It’s a travesty that really should be relooked at.
- 1917 Fighting Irish (Knute Rockne All American)
Knute Rockne and the Gipper: the best college coach of all time and a President of the United States meant this team was stacked. The movie covers a broad period of time, so the four horsemen can also be incorporated here. These are legendary athletes, and true gym rats. There is a reason Notre Dame won so many National Championships in this time, and there is a reason that this group could knock the teeth out of everyone above them. Simply put: It’s Notre Dame.
- 1975 Fighting Irish (Rudy)
The greatest sports movie of all time is also the greatest sports team of all time. They would neutralize the Angels and the Ghosts because they’re a Catholic School. The multiple speeches in this movie are pound for pound competitive with any movie team above it. The movie is overflowing with heart as Sean Astin shows so well why he is the greatest actor in Hollywood. Lastly, the team is really, really good. They blew out Miami in the Orange Bowl, and were dominant the rest of the year too. This is truly the whole package, and was in no way shape or form influenced by my love of the team and the school.
If you made it this far in the list, I’m sure that you disagreed with pretty much everything I said. Leave your own list in the comments below, and I’ll tell you why you’re wrong.