10 Best Sports Movies Where The Protagonist Loses

Rocky is one of the best examples of a sports movie, but Sylvester Stallone recently noted it’s not a sports movie at all. It’s hard to argue with the actor considering he wrote the classic film, but Rocky is a sports movie in every sense of the genre, and it even basically sparked the loser protagonist twist.


After Rocky, only a few movies have had the guts to portray the heroic sportsman or team failure after two hours of training and preparation for the biggest event of their lives. Whether it’s boxing, bowling or bobsledding, these films have overturned the sporting cliché of winning protagonists.

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Pivot (1996)

Stream on Prime Video and Paramount+

Center pivot is well overlooked when it comes to debating great sports movies, and maybe that’s because it’s not the typical melodrama that sports movies tend to be. Instead, the film, which is about talented bowler Roy Munson who loses his bowling hand, is one of the funniest comedies of the 1990s.

However, Roy still manages to bowl years later with a rubber hand, and he enters a contest where he stands to win $1 million and beat his opponent, who happens to be the very person who is damaged hand. And, surprisingly, the movie still packs a surprisingly emotional punch, as Roy loses the tournament by a single pin.

Whip (2009)

Stream to Prime Video

In 2009, actor Drew Barrymore tried his hand at directing, when she was in the director’s chair for the sports comedy-drama Whip it. The film follows teenager Bliss Cavendar who joins a roller derby team, and although she lacks the support of her mother and goes through the typical hardships of adolescence, she still pursues her dream.

The result is one of best movies by an actor-turned-director, which is mostly down to how Barrymore manages to turn what should be a crushing and heartbreaking moment into something more upbeat and heartfelt. Although Bliss’ team loses the championship game, they still bond as a team and even chant “We’re number two!”

Cool Races (1993)

Stream on Disney+

To be an upbeat and fun Disney sports movie, Cool races is full of comedy and good humor, but it doesn’t follow exactly the same formula as The Mighty Ducks or any other Disney sports movie where the protagonists win with ease. The 1993 film is based on the Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics against all odds.

But while they were impressing and surprising millions, the bobsleigh flipped over and they lost, but they still finished the race carrying the sled over the finish line. Cool races is one of best movies based on a true storyand although the team didn’t go home with medals, they are still heroes to thousands of 90s kids.

Rocky (1976)

Rent on Prime Video and Apple TV

Rocky is Sylvester Stallone’s best movie, as it proved that he was not only a great actor but also a great writer, and he single-handedly launched a billion-dollar franchise. But there hasn’t been a movie in the series that comes close to recapturing the magic of the original. Rocky.

The film is a sports movie like no other, as it follows the titular character as he trains and puts his all into his fight with Apollo Creed, only to end up not triumphing from a distance. The character’s struggle throughout the film was for naught, but it makes the film even more impactful. Not only that, but it made Rocky’s return to the sequel even more spectacular.

Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Stream on HBO Max

The end of the film directed by Clint Eastwood Million dollar baby ends Rocky look like the greatest champion in the world, because not only does Maggie lose her last fight, but her whole world crumbles around her. After being knocked out, she becomes a quadriplegic dependent on a ventilator, and then needs to have her leg amputated when infected.

The film has a morbid and emotionally draining ending, as Maggie asks Frankie to kill her because she thinks there’s no point in living if she can’t fight. Million dollar baby isn’t exactly an exciting sports movie, but it’s a gripping movie and marvelous sports drama with a female lead.

Bring It On (2000)

Rent on Prime Video and Apple TV

On paper, a movie about Cheerleaders doesn’t exactly look like an exciting sports movie, especially when you look at the number of shoddy direct-to-video sequels that followed. But the very first Bring it on is such a fun teen comedy, and viewers are surprisingly caught up in the competitiveness of the sport.

The movie sees the movie heroes Toros take on their rivals, the Clovers, in the championship contest and end up narrowly losing. And as is the cliché at the end of sports movies where the “evil” team has a new respect for underdog winners, the same thing happens in Bring it on.

Tin Cup (1996)

Stream on Showtime

Although that doesn’t say much, as it’s a niche subgenre and few of them are highly regarded, metal mug is the best golf movie. The romantic sports film is about a golf prodigy who comes to the end of the US Open, only to repeatedly fail the same shot multiple times and lose the tournament.

While winning isn’t always the most realistic thing that can happen in a sports movie, almost everything else metal mug is hilarious and unrealistic. Roy does a play for his therapist and the two end up dating, and that’s the worst thing a therapist can do, but it makes for a great rom-com.

Eddie the Eagle (2016)

Stream on Disney+

1988 was a huge year for unprecedented events at the Olympic Games. With the Jamaican bobsled team, Michael Edwards was the first British skier to represent Great Britain in 60 years. And just like the Jamaican team, Edwards was a complete underdog. Eddie the eagle depicts how the skier struggled to fit in with other skiers, having been shunned by other ski groups and officials for years, but with several English records under his belt he finally made it to the Games Olympics.

However, after being warned to wait four years until the next matches, so he can practice more, Eddie doesn’t listen and he ends up coming last in the event. But the film is still inspiring, because Edwards said from the age of 10 that he was going to compete in the Olympics, and although he didn’t win, his dream still came true.

Silver Ball (2011)

Stream on Hulu and Tubi

silver ball isn’t about baseball players, and it doesn’t even dramatize winning and losing games until the very end. Instead, it’s about the strategy of teams choosing which players to buy, which makes it stand out as original in a sea of ​​dozens of mundane baseball movies.

The film is the perfect example of a team going from zero to hero, as Billy Beane transforms The Athletics into an incredible team by hiring great but unknown players on a shoestring budget. However, The Athletics are still losing to the Minnesota Twins in the American League Division, but it’s still a huge achievement for a team that originally struggled so much.

Coach Carter

Stream on BET+

Samuel L. Jackson always spits out the best reviews and hurls the best insults with his authoritative voice. And in movies like pulp Fiction and The Hateful Eight, he even gives epic speeches that simply humiliate people. But with such mastery of the English language and incredible line deliveries, he can give equally thought-provoking and uplifting speeches audiences just don’t see them as often.

Coach Carter sees the titular character (Jackson) give some of the greatest monologues to his high school basketball team and transforms them from a group of teenagers into high achievers. The team loses its final game, but Carter and his boys are still reassured that they have achieved their academic goals.

NEXT: The 10 best sports movies, according to Reddit

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