Best Movies On Netflix If You Root For The Sports Underdog

The best sports movies on Netflix include Rocky and Friday Night Lights.

By Douglas Helm | Published

Everyone loves a good underdog story, especially in the world of sports. These movies tend to be the perfect uplifting watch for a movie night, and Netflix has plenty in the genre available to stream right now. Without further ado, let’s dive into some of the best sports underdog movies on Netflix right now.


Hustle is the newest movie on this list, and it managed to instantly charm viewers to the point that it could be considered a classic sports movie someday. You can always count on Adam Sandler‘s slightly more dramatic roles (i.e., Punch Drunk Love and Uncut Gems) to be some of his best work, and Netflix’s hustle continues this trend. Sandler plays Stanley Sugarman, a basketball scout who finds an incredible player in Spain who has the potential to be an NBA phenom. The film also stars Queen Latifah, Ben Foster, Robert Duvall, Heidi Gardner, and Anthony Edwards. The film was loved by audiences and critics alike, and Sandler even nabbed a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination.

Sandler’s performance helps anchor the film, but real-life NBA player Juancho Hernangomez brings surprising warmth and nuance to his character, Bo Cruz, who is the player that Sugarman finds. Those who love basketball will find a lot to like about this movie, thanks to director Jeremiah Zagar’s exciting direction in the basketball scenes. But the highlight of the film is definitely the charming back-and-forth between Sandler’s Sugarman and Hernangomez’s Cruz as they try to train him to get a spot in the NBA.

Friday Night Lights

There’s nothing like seeing a team come together to overcome the odds; football is one of the best sports for this type of underdog story. There are plenty of football movies out there that take the underdog angle, and Friday Night Lights is one of the best. Friday Night Lights was directed and co-written by Peter Berg and follows a high school football team in Texas gunning for the state championship. The film was based on a true story, too, adapted from the book Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream (1990) by H. G. Bissinger.

Billy Bob Thorton plays the team’s coach and does a fantastic job, while Derek Luke and Lucas Black perform great as the team running back and quarterback, respectively. Despite the relatively low stakes of a high school state championship, Berg and the cast manage to make this film as electric and engaging as any big sports film out there. Texas definitely takes its high school football seriously, and you can see that on full display here. As a bonus, Netflix also has the arguably better Friday Night Lights series available to stream as well if you love the movie.

A League Of Their Own

As Friday Night Lights proves, underdog movies can prove especially interesting when they’re based on true events. A League of Their Own is no exception, as the film does a fictionalized re-telling of how the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) came to be. The league was created when the MLB was in danger of shutting down due to World War II, and the movie follows the team, the Rockford Peaches. Directed by Penny Marshall, the film deftly balances the real-life aspects of the film with a charming, comedic tone.

While your typical underdog sports movie follows a team overcoming the odds of winning, A League of Their Own is an underdog story where players must overcome the societal expectations of their time. While even the Peaches’ manager (played by a curmudgeonly Tom Hanks) initially treats the team as a joke, the team fights against sexist expectations that women’s professional sports shouldn’t be taken seriously. The empowering film, combined with the comedic bent and the stellar cast of Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty, Rosie O’Donnell, Jon Lovitz, David Strathairn, Garry Marshall, and Bill Pullman, make A League of Their Own an instant classic.


Of course, no underdog sports list is complete without Rocky. Rocky could very well be the quintessential underdog story, and it helped launch Sylvester Stallone‘s career into the stratosphere. The film follows Stallone’s Rocky Balboa, a small-time club fighter who gets a shot at the heavyweight champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). From the classic training montages to the bittersweet ending, Rocky hits all the right notes you would want out of a rags-to-riches underdog tale.

Rocky not only told the story of an underdog, but the film itself ended up being a bit of an underdog story. It did incredible at the box office and managed to be the highest-grossing film of 1976, earning approximately $225 million worldwide. It also got a whopping ten Oscar nominations at the Academy Awards and ended up taking home three wins, including Best Picture. Of course, this success ended up launching a huge franchise that would get multiple sequels and spin-offs. As a bonus, Netflix has plenty of Rocky sequels available to binge after you check out the original.