12 Sports Movies That Get Sports Completely Wrong

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Vote up the movies that totally mess up aspects of their sport.

Sports movies can be a steady mix of heartwarming, funny, dramatic, and downright exciting, but often they find themselves depicting their sports completely wrong. Usually, but not always, this happens for theatrical events to unfold on the field, and oftentimes it leaves a sour taste in the mouth of true fans of whatever sport is being shown. Whether it is rules being broken or ignored, or just physical feats that aren’t even remotely possible, there are moments in sports films that are more fantastical than anything. 

Whether it be an illegal play that referees would have overturned the second it occurred or a coach making an utterly nonsensical decision mid-game, there are plenty of moments in sports films you can point at and say “This wouldn’t happen."

  • One takes many risks when playing football, including possible spine injuries, concussions leading to CTE, torn ACLs, and sometimes an errant finger coming into your facemask and poking your face. One thing football players don’t have to worry about though (unless they are playing against a team coached by Al Pacino), is having their eyeballs ripped from their sockets and dropped onto the playing field. So while the scene in Any Given Sunday when this occurs might be a classic gruesome look at the horrors of football, it is as fictional as you would think. 

    Sure, eyeballs might get jabbed by a random finger that finds its way into the facemask, but the act of it getting cleanly ripped out is pure lunacy. While it may have been a scarring enough scene that you have never quite been able to get it out of your head (pun intended), you can relax knowing that this has never happened on an NFL field. Now more than ever, with the rise of facemask visors and player safety being a more significant concern than ever before, you won't see any eyeballs on the field anytime soon.

    795 votes
  • There is no denying how awesome the Flying V looks when the Mighty Ducks pull it out to defeat their rivals in the league championship, but that doesn’t mean the move is even remotely possible or realistic. Just ask Auston Matthews, one of the best players in the NHL. When doing a GQ interview about realism in hockey movies, he referred to the famed scene as “the most unrealistic thing I’ve ever seen.” 

    The move involves most of the team forming a protective V-shape around the player with the puck as they block defenders. At the same time, he skates down the ice, and at the very end, they all separate, blocking out their assignments. Essentially, it is like using a football offensive lineman but in youth hockey, which is the only level of the sport in which a stunt like this might work. 

    The Mighty Duck sequels even point out how poorly of a designed play it is because, in both D2 and D3, they try to use the Flying V, but both times they wind up giving up a goal rather than scoring one. Simply put, if the player with the puck doesn’t weave their way through an entire team of defenders and score, then the puck will go to the other section while nobody stays behind to play defense. The move makes no practical sense, but it looks good on screen.

    911 votes

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  • When the world's most famous rock climber, Alex Honnold of Free Solo fame, says that your movie has “probably the worst scene in all of climbing,” it is safe to say your film isn’t a great depiction of the sport it displays. Vertical Limit has some pretty intense scenes featuring some scary rock-climbing moments, but it is plain as day how the characters' choices are removed from reality and the physics of real climbing vs. what happens on-screen. 

    In the GQ interview where Honnold breaks down the most infamous scene from the movie when a character cuts the rope holding their father, sending him to his demise, he points out several factors that make the scene complete and utter fiction. In the scene, five climbers attached to the same rope lose their grips and are suspended in midair. After they’re suspended, the mechanism holding them begins to falter. Honnold points out that if they were to all fall as they do but are initially caught and held up by the mechanism, then there is no way it would suddenly lose its grip. 

    If they were going to fall to their deaths, it would have been when the initial fall occurred, not when dramatically holding on for dear life afterward. Secondly, he points out that no sandstone structures in the world have an overhang as the wall does in the film. If this were real, they would have been right up against the wall after their initial fall, able to get a grip and not suspended several feet in the air away from it. Lastly, he points out the rather obvious that at no point in the real world would you ever intentionally cut the rope that's keeping someone alive, especially not if they are your father.

    462 votes

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  • Henry Rowengarter got to live out every young baseball fan’s dream when he got to suit up for the Cubs and pitch for a season in Rookie of the Year. The only issue with this concept? The MLB has strict rules of having to be 17 years old or older to play in the league, and little Henry with the magic arm is only 12 years old. So sure, the entire thing wouldn’t have happened in real life, but there’s a lot more grounding the film in fantasy than just the age rule preventing him from playing. 

    The film is about a kid who isn’t great at baseball, but he sure does love the game. A few months after breaking his arm and having to wear a cast all summer, he finds that the cartilage in his arm has changed and has given him the ability to throw up to 100 miles per hour (a feat that only a few actual big leaguers can pull off). In a publicity stunt, the Cubs sign him to a major league deal, and he spends the season pitching in Chicago, taking the league by storm. So while he may not have been allowed to play in the MLB for real, he probably wouldn’t have been able to whip 100 mph fastballs easily, but alas, it’s just a kid's movie.

    692 votes

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  • Many sports movies find that any sort of realism is lost during the final play of any game because the most dramatic thing possible must always take place. This leads to plenty of unrealistic scenes. In The Program's case, the final play would have been blown dead by refs the moment it occurred.

    In the play, quarterback Joe Kane avoids several defenders as he maneuvers around the backfield, waiting for a receiver to get open. While moving around in the pocket, he begins his throwing motion when the ball slips out of his hands and falls on the ground in front of him, which he then picks back up and throws for the winning touchdown. In the film, the announcers declare, as it happens, that he fumbled the ball before picking it back up, but any competent football fan would tell you instantly that this isn’t the case. 

    Because he was trying to throw the football and had begun the process of throwing it when the ball flew out of his hand, the play would have been immediately ruled dead, and the game would have been over without any last-second heroics. If this movie were real, then Joe Kane would be the laughingstock of college football.

    481 votes

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  • Sometimes while watching a comedic sports film, you will have to ignore some outrageous coincidences and odds-defying feats because it is a movie and nobody promised you realism. Especially if the film is made by and starring Adam Sandler. Get ready for some bonkers nonsense that has no place in the real world of sports. 

    For instance, a golf ball deflecting off of a car windshield into the air, rolling down a banner, then landing on and riding down a piece of collapsed scaffolding like an erector set directly into the hole. Now obviously, this kind of thing has no place in the real world, but it isn’t as if it is trying to pretend it’s real. The guy is putting with a hockey stick, for crying out loud… it will be silly! 

    Alas, in any respectable PGA-sanctioned tournament, Gilmore would've simply been allowed to move his ball as none of that would've happened. Happy Gilmore is a fun sports movie, but don’t come expecting anything more than a silly time.

    616 votes

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