The 10 Best Sports Movies About Underdogs

The best sports movies about underdogs include Hoosiers, Remember the Titans, and Rocky.

By Chad Langen | Updated

The genre of sports movies is beloved by many for its ability to capture the human spirit at its best. Whether it’s an underdog triumphing against all odds, like in Rudy, or a story of perseverance and determination, as seen in Rocky, these films have the power to deeply resonate with audiences. In this list of the 10 best sports movies about underdogs, you’ll find both classic and modern tales of grit and inspiration that will uplift and motivate viewers of all ages.

10. Seabiscuit (2003)


Seabiscuit, the 2003 film based on Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling book, is considered one of the greatest sports movies about underdogs. The movie centers around Seabiscuit, a small, unremarkable racehorse who, with the help of a dedicated trainer, a jockey, and an owner, becomes a champion during the Great Depression. Seabiscuit’s journey to success is not only a triumph for the horse, but also for the people who believed in him when nobody else did.

The film’s portrayal of the grit, determination, and heart of the underdog is both inspiring and emotional, with standout performances by Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, and Chris Cooper. Seabiscuit is a timeless reminder that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible, even for the most unlikely of heroes.

9. A League of Their Own (1992)


A League of Their Own, released in 1992, is considered a classic among sports movies and revolves around the first female professional baseball league, formed during World War II when most of the male players were away at war. The film centers around the Rockford Peaches, a team of misfit players who come together to prove that women can play ball just as well as men.

With an all-star cast that includes Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, and Madonna, A League of Their Own tackles themes of gender discrimination and female empowerment in a way that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. The film’s message of perseverance and overcoming adversity is not only inspiring for athletes, but for anyone facing a seemingly impossible challenge.

8. The Natural (1984)


Released in 1994, The Natural is one of the most beloved sports movies that tells the story of Roy Hobbs, a talented baseball player whose dreams of a major league career are derailed by a mysterious shooting. Years later, Hobbs gets a second chance at stardom when he joins the struggling New York Knights and becomes a key player in their improbable run for the pennant.

The film is a classic tale of redemption and perseverance, with Robert Redford delivering a standout performance as the aging underdog. Featuring themes of overcoming adversity and achieving greatness against all odds, The Natural remains a timeless classic that continues to inspire audiences of all ages.

7. Cool Runnings (1993)


1993’s Cool Runnings is a beloved sports movie that tells the story of the first Jamaican bobsled team and their journey to the 1988 Winter Olympics. The film is a heartwarming and humorous portrayal of a group of misfits who come together to pursue their dreams, despite overwhelming odds and cultural barriers. Led by the charismatic Derice Bannock, played by Leon Robinson, the team proves that with determination and a strong work ethic, anything is possible.

With its themes of perseverance, teamwork, and the power of the human spirit, Cool Runnings continues to be a favorite among fans of sports movies, and a testament to the triumph of the underdog.

6. Miracle (2004)


Released in 2004, Miracle tells the inspiring true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team, a group of young and inexperienced players who went on to achieve one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Directed by Gavin O’Connor, the film captures the spirit of the underdog as the team faces off against the heavily favored Soviet Union in the midst of the Cold War. Led by coach Herb Brooks, portrayed brilliantly by Kurt Russell, the team overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to win the gold medal.

Miracle is a thrilling and emotional tribute to the power of teamwork and the human spirit and remains one of the best sports movies about underdogs of all time.

5. The Karate Kid (1984)

karate kid


The Karate Kid, released in 1984, is a classic underdog story that has remained popular for decades. The film centers on a young boy named Daniel who moves to a new town and becomes the target of a group of bullies. With the help of his wise and skilled karate teacher, Mr. Miyagi, Daniel learns the discipline and techniques necessary to defend himself and compete in a local tournament.

The film features iconic scenes and memorable characters, including the indelible Mr. Miyagi, portrayed by Pat Morita. The enduring appeal of The Karate Kid lies in its portrayal of the importance of persistence, self-control, and resilience in the face of adversity. One of the most iconic sports movies of all time, The Karate Kid has captured the hearts of audiences across generations, inspiring viewers to hold on to their aspirations and never give up.

4. Rudy (1993)


1993’s Rudy is the inspiring true story of Rudy Ruettiger, a young man with a dream to play football for the University of Notre Dame. Despite being undersized and lacking natural athletic ability, Rudy’s unwavering determination and work ethic earn him a spot on the team, where he becomes a beloved and respected player.

Directed by David Anspaugh and starring Sean Astin in the title role, the film captures the spirit of the underdog and the power of perseverance. Rudy‘s emotional plot and unforgettable acting performances have made it one of the most adored sports movies, motivating viewers to pursue their aspirations against all odds.

3. Remember the Titans (2000)


Released in 2000, Remember the Titans is based on the true story of an African American football coach, Herman Boone, who takes over a recently integrated high school team in Virginia. With the team facing prejudice and resistance from both the community and themselves, Coach Boone and his white assistant coach, Bill Yoast, must work together to unify the players and lead them to victory.

The film, directed by Boaz Yakin and starring Denzel Washington and Will Patton, explores themes of racial tension, teamwork, and leadership. Remember the Titans is one of the most cherished sports movies due to its heartening message and captivating acting, inspiring audiences to unite and triumph over challenges.

2. Hoosiers (1986)


1986’s Hoosiers is a classic sports movie based on the true story of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that defies the odds and makes it to the state championship. Led by the unconventional coaching methods of Norman Dale, the team must overcome personal obstacles and the skepticism of their community to achieve their dreams.

Directed by David Anspaugh and starring Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper, the film captures the heart and soul of the underdog. As far as sports movies go, Hoosiers is timeless. With its themes of perseverance and redemption, the film continues to inspire viewers to never give up on their dreams and to believe in the power of teamwork.

1. Rocky (1976)


Rocky, released in 1976, is an iconic sports movie that tells the story of Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer who gets a shot at the heavyweight championship. Despite facing overwhelming odds, Rocky trains tirelessly and shows incredible heart and determination in the ring.

Considered by many to be the best sports movie of all time, Rocky embodies the true spirit of an underdog. Directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Sylvester Stallone, the film’s message of perseverance and hope has touched audiences worldwide for decades. Additionally, the movie’s immense popularity has led to multiple sequels and has serves as a source of inspiration to numerous athletes and fans alike.

With its unforgettable characters, inspiring soundtrack, and powerful themes of overcoming adversity and achieving success, Rocky has become a cultural phenomenon that continues to inspire generations of viewers to never give up on their dreams.