Of sports films and getting away

Published 11:36 am Friday, March 18, 2016

The other night I was looking through my collection of DVDs and came across two of my limited collection of sports movies.

I’ve never really been a big fan of sports movies, despite growing up playing football, baseball and softball and running track, for some reason, they just don’t interest me that much. But there are a few I’ve watched and enjoyed over the years, four of which comprise my meager collection.

Practically every sport has been memorialized in film, particularly football and baseball.

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Hockey has had it appearance with the two “Slapshot” movies, a very irreverent look at the game played with sticks and a hard rubber disk. I saw the first film with Paul Newman as the player/manager of a minor league hockey team, who stoops to new lows to put his team on top, including drafting triplets known as the “human hat trick,” a trio of enforcers who spend more time in the penalty box than on the ice.

Golf has had “Caddy Shack,” one and two, “Happy Gilmore,” and a bio-pic on golfing great Ben Hogan.

Basketball has “Hoosiers,” “White Men Can’t Jump,” “Blue Chips” and “Coach Carter” to name a few.

Track had “Chariots of Fire,” one my favorites.

Baseball’s library of films is extensive, and to be honest with you, I can’t remember them all, so I’ll stick with some of my favorites: “Bull Durham” with Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon; “Bang the Drum Slowly” with Robert De Niro playing a so-so catcher with a brain tumor and Michael Moriarty as his very close friend and supporter. Warning! This one is a tear-jerker, regardless how macho you think you are; “Pride of the Yankees,” with Gary Cooper.

Football is another popular subject for film, although there are some I’ve never seen, like “The Blind Side,” or “Everybody’s All American,” supposedly a film based on LSU great Billy Cannon with some scenes shot in Tiger Stadium. My collection includes one film “The Junction Boys,” about Bear Bryant’s first Texas A&M football team he took to Junction City Texas and overworked. There’s one I would like to have: “The Express: The Ernie Davis Story,” about Syracuse great and Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis, who died of cancer soon after graduating.

Many of these films are my personal favorites, but I didn’t list them in an attempt to influence you to watch them. Hey, you may not like them. But the stories in most of these films is more than the story of sports or sports figures. They’re stories of relationships and struggles of people to overcome the odds and survive.

They are the stories of people trying to make it on their own terms and winning. It’s something we can all relate to and maybe we can learn from a character’s experience. If nothing else, they are an enjoyable way to spend an evening and get away from the rest of the world for a while.

And we all can stand to get away every now and then, even if its at an imaginary stadium or gym.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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