Anyone in my age bracket knows the importance of chanting "quack! quack! quack!" but we don't have to stop there. With this list I am focusing on the best live-action kids sports movies.
Now, "kids" needs some clarification here. I am talking about movies that starred kids and had the kids as the ones playing the sport. I'm not going to include sports movies that were just geared towards children, so don't blow up the comments section saying I forgot to include Cool Runnings, Angels in the Outfield, or Space Jam. I didn't forget them at all, they just don't belong in this post. This list will also not include animated films and it is in no particular order.
Disclaimer: This list is in no particular order
10. The Big Green (1995)
The Big Green is definitely a feel good tale about the citizens and kids of a struggling small town. When a foreign exchange educator decides to motivate her depressed, uncaring class by introducing them to soccer the attitudes of the kids and the town changes when their underdog success overcomes the depression. It's full of cute characters, cute childhood friendships, and it can definitely teach the viewers that no matter how broken things seem you can always find a way to put things back together.
9. Little Giants (1994)
Little Giants is one of many underdog stories, but it's an extremely fun story about a small town football rivalry. Rick Moranis and Ed O'Neill play the competitive O'Shea brothers that decide on a winner takes all game between their teams; the professional pee-wee Cowboys and the underdog, rejected Little Giants.
8. Hardball (2001)
"I love it when you call me big poppa!"
This is a movie that is overlooked all the time and I never really understood why. The story follows an in debt gambler that is forced to coach an inner-city baseball team full of trash talking, street-wise kids. The story is a great underdog achievement and is one of the few that put the adult in the learning chair. The kids wind up teaching him just as much if not more than he teaches the kids.
7. The Bad News Bears (1976/2005)
Bad News Bears is a story with two versions as the 1976 original was remade in 2005, but I don't think either are bad films for what they are. The plot of a rugged coach determined to turn his team of misfits into champions has been done, but these movies make it just as fun as it should be even if it isn't the trophy finish you want.
6. Ladybugs (1992)
Another one that is often overlooked, Ladybugs is a great movie. One of the few soccer movies, Ladybugs follows a man using an all-girls company team to try and climb the corporate ladder. This movie is funny and it's one of the few, if not the only, children's sports movie to feature a team made up of all girls. However there is a big twist so be prepared!
5. Air Bud (1997)
Air Bud is different than the others on this list because it involves an animal, but it's by no means a bad kids movie. After a golden retriever runs away from his abusive owner, he is adopted by a shy middle school student. Shortly after becoming the manager of the basketball team because he was too shy to tryout, he receives encouragement and is pushed to his limits after discovering his newly adopted companion can play basketball.
4. The Karate Kid (1984)
You can't have a kids sports list without mentioning The Karate Kid and no, I'm not talking about that lame 2010 remake. This Oscar nominated story of a martial arts master that agrees to teach a bullied teenager the art of karate to show him that karate and life is more than just fighting. Great message and legendary characters.
3. Rookie of the Year (1993)
Rookie of the Year is another great movie that is simply overlooked for more popular offerings. The story follows a 12-year old little league player that is drafted by the Chicago Cubs after a freak accident turns him into a big league pitcher. This movie has humor, touching moments, and it shows that even when your gifts that everyone else loves might fade it's really what's inside that counts.
2. The Mighty Ducks trilogy (1992 - 1996)
"Ducks fly together!"
I couldn't single out a Ducks movie so I decided to include all three of them. The story begins as Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) is sentenced to community service after a DUI and is assigned to coach the misfit and poverty stricken District 5 pee-wee hockey team. As the team morphs into the Ducks and achieve what they set out to do, the story moves along as it says goodbye to and welcomes new players. This trilogy did what few do and follows them from adolescence to becoming pre-teen gold medalists straight into young adulthood. No matter what, these Ducks fly together and they truly understand that they're stronger when they believe in themselves and each other. Easily one of the best messages we've been given by Hollywood over the years.
1. The Sandlot (1993)
"You play ball like a girl!"
The story of a neighborhood baseball team that cautiously accepts the new kid on the block, it does such a great job developing characters and following an adventurous summer that teaches each of the kids lessons in teamwork, courage, and friendship. It also gives us a lesson in what can happen when you judge a book by its cover.
The humor displayed in the film contains some of the best insults of my age bracket and made baseball fun for a lot of kids. The Sandlot is one of those movies that makes you want to go outside and run around after it's over.