It’s really hard to enjoy a film when you can predict the outcome immediately. The team that was broken apart suddenly wins for the first time after someone new and totally unexpected joins. Yay!
People love the underdog story, because we like to see ourselves in them. But, there are some expectations we should hold for these films.
Sports teams in real life go through different players and coaches, which is normal. But wouldn’t it be great to see a team figure out that they just need to fix themselves, and not have someone come save them?
Look, when a dog joins the game after a middle school basketball team is down a player, things just don’t add up. Yes, Air Bud, I’m talking about you. The coach allows this, and so do the referees and the fans! If you were rooting for the other team, that totally wouldn’t be fair, would it?
Could the dog simply inspire the players as a mascot? Sure. But to play with them? That’s just unrealistic and doesn’t focus on the kids improving themselves.
Movies like this make me a bit irritated for multiple reasons. It just seems that sports films make one thing the main focus: winning, no matter what the risk.
In the “Game Plan,” when the main character Joe gets tackled hard, all he needs is to see his daughter and be given a pep talk.
Although he ended up winning, and clearly loves what he does, we shouldn’t be pushing people towards their breaking points. Sports injuries are bound to happen, but we shouldn’t think anyone can just magically bounce back for one final victory.
There are other risks that players take we don’t really think about, especially for people that may not be sports fans. For drama or any other movie fans, this can take us on a whole new ride.
In “Amateur,” the main character of the movie is gifted at basketball and even plays at the high school level as a middle schooler. He attends a private school with a scholarship until he exposes that he’s been paid to play.
He ends up getting in trouble and not being able to play basketball in school anymore, which is when he decides he wants to go pro. He wants to be the youngest player in the NBA. We, the audience, never get to see him do this, but the movie makes you hope he does. He’s the underdog wanting to do the impossible.
You know, I actually like to see a happy ending, but I don’t like to see stories that I’ve already been told. There are so many ways we can tell stories where there’s more to sports than simply winning. Just like many great players, who are more than their stats.
On the flip side of the victorious underdogs are the Richmond Oilers from “Coach Carter” who lost their big game in the end. They were devastated, of course, but they realized that this wouldn’t be the end for them. Most of them got a reality check and realized that high school basketball shouldn’t be the highlight of their lives.
The thing is though, sports team wins are unexpected, and even if they lose, they can still learn from that loss. It just seems like teams have to be victorious in films. Why does losing a game have to be the end of the world? A twist makes the show even more interesting!
Back in my anime phase, I got into “Haikyuu,” which was a series about volleyball. For many animes there just needs to be a happy ending, but in “Haikyuu” the main character is a bit vertically challenged for a typically successful volleyball player.
I was watching the final episode of the season, and I was only half paying attention. The main team that the story was based around was going against some long-time rivals. Surely they would win, the main character had so much passion about the sport, no matter what was against her.
They didn’t win though. I was left in such shock. How could this be? They actually lost? Where is the cliche happy ending? I was even more hooked on the show as the next season focused on making even the minor characters on the team better than they were before. It was finally realistic and told a better story in the end.
Is it wrong to like happy endings? No. But we should absolutely have higher expectations from Hollywood about the stories they produce. Just like many sports, there’s more to the game than just winning.
In a society where we idolize the dream life, the underdog and hard work when facing adversity, we should also show the truth. Sometimes giving it your all is also gambling everything you have.