Readers Roundtable: Where Are the Sports Movies About Women?

A few months ago, I read that A League of Their Own is getting a remake. (Well, sort of. It will be an Amazon series focusing on a different team.) That got us Salties talking behind the scenes. Not only the familiar, “Why does everything need a remake?”, but also, “Why can’t people tell more stories about women athletes, instead of just updating the old ones?”

I grew up watching a loooot of sports movies. Sports has always been a big part of my life, plus, look, I’m kind of a cheeseball. Most sports movies aren’t that deep, I’ll admit. They usually have some heartwarming moments, the hero overcoming an obstacle and/or showing someone who didn’t believe in them, and then the moment of glory. And yet, I love them in all their simplistic sweetness.

Eight Men Out. Rudy. Field of Dreams. Hoosiers. Remember the Titans. The Mighty Ducks. Lots of men’s stories.

A League of Their Own came out when I was 12. It was actually the first movie that I saw multiple times in the theater. You know how some movies you loved when you were younger don’t stand the test of time? (Titanic, I’m looking at you.) This is definitely not the case here. I count it among one of my favorite movies, period – not just sports movies. I credit it with showing me – and the world – that women’s stories were worth telling.

I can think of a few other sports movies featuring women from my younger days (Bend It Like Beckham comes to mind), but lots of them have the kicker of the surprise romantic ending, like The Cutting Edge and Wimbledon. It’s as if the athletic parts of the story aren’t enough, filmmakers don’t think people will be interested unless the protagonist falls in love.

When I read about the remake, I realized that I was extra bummed because A League of Their Own had been such a unicorn. Not only does it tell the true story of a group of women athletes, the main love story is about the relationship between the two sisters. That’s not even that common now, let alone more than 20 years ago.

It does seem like things are trending up, with Battle of the Sexes and Brittany Runs a Marathon just two of the recent offerings, but I think what’s missing are more true stories. Let’s give women the treatment that Rudy Ruettiger, Muhammad Ali, Jim Morris, and countless other men have had.

Where are all the sports movies about women? And why aren’t they being made? Who would you nominate to have their story told as an inspirational sports movie?

Southern transplant who loves 90s boy bands, outdoor adventures and college basketball, although not necessarily in that order. Recovering running perfectionist.

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4 comments

  1. I ask myself those questions basically every time I am trying to hunt down a new inspirational movie. Where are the sports movies about women?? A League of Their Own is amazing but it isn’t the only story out there. I would nominate Kathrine Switzer as someone incredibly deserving of her own movie.

  2. Given that the process of training and racing is kind of inherently dramatic with all the ups and downs you can experience, I feel like ANY female runner could be inspiration for a film. Is that a cop-out? Maybe. But really, think of all the women who have ever run, starting with 18th-century footraces in the English countryside right on up to 21st-century middle-aged Boston qualifiers. I’m convinced any of these could be made into a movie. Of course some might be more riveting than others.

    1. Not a cop out at all! Some of the sports movies I love are about everyday people who have this one shining moment, if you will (like Rudy or Jim Morris, depicted in The Rookie). So I don’t see why we can’t tell those types of stories, but about women!