A sports film is a film genre that uses sport as the theme of the film. It is a production in which a sport, sporting event, athlete (and their sport), or follower of sport (and the sport they follow) are prominently featured, and which depend on sport to a significant degree for their plot motivation or resolution. Despite this, sport is ultimately rarely the central concern of such films and sport performs primarily an allegorical role. Furthermore, sports fans are not necessarily the target demographic in such movies, but sports fans tend to have a large following or respect for such movies.
Screenwriter and scholar Eric R. Williams identifies sports films as one of eleven "super-genres" in his screenwriters' taxonomy, claiming that all feature-length narrative films can be classified by these super-genres. The other ten genres he defines as "super-genres" are action, crime, fantasy, horror, romance, science fiction, slice of life, thriller, war and western.
Several sub-categories of sports films can be identified, although the delineations between these subgenres, much as in live action, are somewhat fluid.
The most common sports subgenres depicted in movies are sports drama and sports comedy. Both categories typically employ playground settings, match, game creatures and other elements commonly associated with biological stories.
Sports films tend to feature a more richly developed sport world, and may also be more player-oriented or thematically complex. Often, they feature a hero of adventure origins and a clear distinction between loss and victory set against each other in a play time struggle.
Sports comedy combines the sports film genre with comedy film elements. Thematically, the story is often one of "Our Team" versus "Their Team"; their team will always try to win, and our team will show the world that they deserve recognition or redemption; the story does not always have to involve a team.
In the sports genre, characters play sports. Thematically, the story is often one of “Our Team” versus “Their Team”; one team will always try to win, and another team will show the world that they deserve recognition or redemption, though the story does not always have to involve a team. The story could also be about an individual athlete or the story could focus on an individual playing on a team. Examples of this genre/type include: Body and Soul (1947), The Hustler (1961), Rocky (1976), Hoosiers (1986), Remember the Titans (2000), Moneyball (2011), Ford v Ferrari (2019) and the Goal! trilogy.
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