We have a strict no PG-13 movies in our house prior to turing the big 1-3. (Read my column about that here.) Luckily there is no shortage of great movies that are appropriate for younger children. One genre we enjoy the most in our house is sports movies. These have a double dose of goodness because they are great movies and also inspire kids to be more active.
My daughter wanted to surf before seeing Soul Surfer, but after it she was obsessed. Now she's in lessons. In making this list two things came to mind, how many great sports movies there are for kids and how few of them had girls as the athlete. Out of nine, only two feature girls.
My son had zero interest in sports. None. Nada. I tried and tried to get him to throw the ball around, kick the soccer ball or take swim lessons. You know what persuaded him? Movies. The Sandlot to be specific.
This is my list of great sports movies for kids--up to about 19-years-old or so.
1.) The Sandlot: One of my favorite movies. I couldn't wait until my kids were old enough to watch it. It's the story of new kid "Scotty Smalls" who doesn't know how to play baseball until he's introduced to the sandlot in his new hood and the eight kids who play there. It's a great movie for boys--lots of harmless and creative name calling, a treehouse, baseball playing and of course, The Beast.
Be warned there are a few bad words, but nothing too shocking. Made in 1992 and set in 1962, this movie was ROTFL before ROTFL was invented. A must-see for all boys...and my daughter loves it, too.
2.) Miracle: The story the USA Olympic hockey teams unbelievable win against the soviets in the 1980 Olympics. Inspirational, truthful and one of the best lines in coaching history, "Great moments are born from great opportunity." I loved this movie and so will your kids.
3.) Kicking and Screaming: What do you get when you make Will Ferrell the coach of a youth soccer team--a pretty funny movie. Your kids will love how outrageous Ferrell gets with his team. There are some classic lines in this movie as well. The one delivered to Mike Ditka is quoted often in our house--"Bye-Bye juicebox!"
4.) The Might Ducks (series): My kids just watched the entire series of Mighty Ducks movies the last few weeks and like them all. I could hear them while I was in the other room cracking up and having a good time. Definitely put all three on your summer movie-watching list. (Couple girls on the team, too!)
"Ducks fly together!" Ha, great speech by a coach...
5.) The Next Karate Kid: Not the best in the series, but my daughter liked this movie. It possibly made the list simply because it featured a female athlete. I probably would have put League of Their Own in here (I love that movie), but my daughter couldn't make it through 1/2 hour of it--too many adults and mature jokes.
6.) Breaking Away: This movie is a personal choice for me. My brother was enormously influenced by this film and still, to this day, rides his bike daily wearing a white tank and bicycle shorts. It's an older movie--made in 1979 and nominated for an Oscar that year. The movie is about nineteen-year-old who lives in Bloomington Indiana and is obsessed with cycling and all-things Italian. The relationship between his dad and him is classic. One of the best. Well-worth hunting down and watching with your older kids.
7.) Soul Surfer: Have you seen Soul Surfer yet? Bethany Hamilton is my daughter's hero. I was a little afraid that after we saw the movie, the shark scene would scare my daughter away from surfing, but it didn't. What is so unique about this movie is how honestly they portray Bethany's love of the sport of surfing.
If your daughter is interested in Bethany or surfing, in this video she tells her story in her own words. She's a brave and strong example for our daughters.
8.) Rudy: Fine. Maybe not for younger kids, but older kids will like the story of a young man struggling to reach his goal of making the Notre Dame football team. There are so many great scenes in there that will teach kids some fantastic lessons. This movie is most famous for making grown men cry like little babies--it's that good.
9.) Angels in the Outfield: Everything you want from a kids sports movie: a kid who makes a wish, Christopher Lloyd, a down-and-out sports team and lots of silliness. If you haven't watched Angels in the Outfield with your kids, rent it this week, make some popcorn and pop it in. You'll all love it!