1 Rocky Balboa
Sports films: Rocky, II, III, IV, V, Rocky Balboa and Creed
Played by: Sylvester Stallone
Who are they: Rocky Balboa is the local loan shark who is waiting for his big moment while fighting the local club circuit.
Why they’re so inspirational to sports players: Played by Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky series, Rocky is the run-of-the-mill guy who yearns to be the best. In all of his matches he is the underdog, his opponents always having some edge over him. But he eclipses all of them when it comes to his heart; he may not be skilled in the ring, but when he entered into a contest in the ring he gave it his all. Rocky should inspire all with his fortitude to succeed.
Quote: ‘Well, ya see, sir I understand you’re looking for sparring partners for Apollo, and I just want to let ya know that I am very available.’
2 Jimmy Dugan
Sports film: A League of Their Own
Played by: Tom Hanks
Who are they: Drunk former baseball player Jimmy Dugan initially treats managing female baseball players as a joke.
Why they’re so inspirational to sports players: Cynicism is the word that sums up Jimmy’s attitude to teaching the females stepping up as baseball stars. Bitter about his own failed career, he wallows in his own misery, which has hilarious consequences. What’s so inspiring about him, though, is he slowly sees the females for the talent that they have and is inspired himself by their determination. He’s a hero in the unconventional sense; but what’s not heroic about turning your life around and admitting you’re wrong?
Quote: ‘There’s no crying in baseball!’
3 Kevin O’Shea
Sports film: Little Giants
Played by: Ed O’Neill
Who are they: Kevin, a Heisman Trophy winner, lives in his hometown of Urbania, Ohio, and coaches the local pee-wee football team.
Why they’re so inspirational to sports players: When it comes to passion Kevin has it, even a little too much. He’s the funny kids coach who takes things a little too seriously but if you look past the flamboyant character you’ll see why; he wants to pass on his success in sports to the children and thinks the only way how is to be as over-the-top as possible. He learns the error of his ways and is one of the few characters that will admit it.
Quote: ‘Peanut butter and jelly sandwich? You’ll never get anywhere treating your helmet like a lunchbox.’
4 Shooter McGavin
Sports film: Happy Gilmore
Played by: Christopher McDonald
Who are they: Aspiring Tour winner Shooter McGavin sees Gilmore as a threat, and tries to thwart any attempt of his to steal his thunder.
Why they’re so inspirational to sports players: Shooter is the anti-hero; arrogant and conceited, and yet loved by all watching. Without him Happy Gilmore would have been a so-so Adam Sandler comedy but Christopher McDonald spices things up with his overacting.
Quote: ‘Damn you people. This is golf. Not a rock concert.’
5 Maggie Fitzgerald
Sports film: Million Dollar Baby
Played by: Hilary Swank
Who are they: Maggie Fitzgerald, a female amateur aspires to prove herself by becoming a successful boxer.
Why they’re so inspirational to sports players: A true inspiration to females, she has to put up with family, friends and even her coach not believing in her. Everyone she comes across wants her to forget her ‘stupid’ dream of being a boxer and to conform to the label society puts on her as a weak female. She never gives up her dream and even though it doesn’t turn out the way she wants it to, she refuses to have any regrets. She’s an icon for women everywhere to fight against the stereotypes of society.
Quote: ‘I was born two pounds, one-and-a-half ounces. Daddy used to tell me I’d fight my way into this world, and I’d fight my way out. That’s all I wanna do, Frankie.’
6 Crash Davis
Sports film: Bull Durham
Played by: Kevin Costner
Who are they: Crash Davis is a veteran of countless years in the minor leagues unwillingly sent to educate hotshot rookie pitcher Ebby ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh about being a major-league talent.
Why they’re so inspirational to sports players: This is a man who has dedicated his life to baseball and could not function without the game. He may be hard-nosed and too uptight but it’s only because he wants to teach Nuke all he can about how to be a great baseball coach. If you listen to his speeches and don’t feel inspired then there’s no hope for you.
Quote: ‘You’re gonna have to learn your clichés. You’re gonna have to study them, you’re gonna have to know them. They’re your friends. Write this down: We gotta play it one day at a time.’
7 Muhammad Ali
Sports film: Ali Played by: Will Smith
Who are they: Olympic gold medallist Cassius Clay, later to rename himself Muhammad Ali, is the outspoken boxer who battles to become a living legend.
Why they’re so inspirational to sports players: Ali is the real-life sports icon whose story has transcended onto the silver-screen with the same amount of feeling that Ali himself exudes. His life has been a journey of fighting, conforming and sacrificing himself to become the boxer he always believed he can be. Smith’s version of the greatest sportsman the world has ever seen captures real-life Ali’s excitement, will and fieriness that made him the man he is today.
Quote: ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.’
8 Ray Kinsella
Sports film: Field of Dreams
Played by: Kevin Costner
Who are they: Ray Kinsella is a novice farmer who is convinced by a mysterious voice he’s supposed to construct a baseball diamond in his cornfield.
Why they’re so inspirational to sports players: Costner’s character carries with him the theme of Field of Dreams and that is the fulfillment of dreams, and how people can overcome any regrets they may have about the life choices they make. Kinsella isn’t a particularly talented sportsman but it’s the words of some great ones that push him to fulfill his dream, which ultimately provides the greatest reward.
Quote: ‘By the time I was ten, playing baseball got to be like eating vegetables or taking out the garbage. So when I was 14, I started to refuse. Could you believe that? An American boy refusing to play catch with his father.’
9 Herman Boone
Sports film: Remember the Titans
Played by: Denzel Washington
Who are they: The new football coach of newly integrated TC Williams High School who has to unite his team in order for them to win.
Why they’re so inspirational to sports players: The fact that Boone is a real person makes this character so inspiring. When the football coach has to bring together white and African American kids, who have previously been at war with one another, he does it by teaching them the fundamental rules of sport; team-work. Once he gets through to them he slowly has an effect on their parents but it’s not without a struggle. Boone is the character that inspires the audience by inspiring the characters.
Quote: ‘If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other of not, but you will respect each other. And maybe… I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.’
10 Norman Dale
Sports film: Hoosiers
Played by: Gene Hackman
Who are they: A new coach with a troubled past, Norman goes on to lead the school sports team to victory, despite objections.
Why they’re so inspirational to sports players: Dale is a character who teaches the other characters and the audience the meaning of team and sportsmanship, something every athlete needs to know. His teaching style is inspirational and powerful to watch and what makes him this way is that he’s modeled on a real-life coach. He’s the type of hero that is an unsung one; coaches are often the makings of a true sports hero and yet they don’t get the credit they deserve. Norman Dale is an excellent motivational coach and should not be forgotten.
Quote: ‘If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners.’