Sports movies give us positive energy when we need it most. They teach us that we can overcome incredible odds, win a championship for your community and family, or that we can win over that guy or girl who had a locker across the hall from us in high school.
The biggest sports movies though, as most other things seem to do, come from Texas. From true stories of heroism in the face of racial inequality to overcoming the odds, to reaching the pinnacle of your sport, Texas has brought us some of the most memorable sports movies of all-time.
Here is the list of the five biggest to ever come out of Texas:
5. The Rookie, 2002
Starring Dennis Quaid, who plays pitcher Jim Morris, ‘The Rookie’ is set in Big Lake, Texas. Morris is the coach of a struggling high school baseball team, who finds motivation when they challenge their coach to a simple bet: if they can win the district championship and make the state playoffs, the former MLB prospect, Morris, would have to try out for a Major League team once again. Without any spoilers, this feel-good movie is one that hits home every time.
4. North Dallas Forty, 1979
Starring the ageless Nick Nolte, ‘North Dallas Forty’ tells the story of Phil Elliott, who plays professional football in the late 1960s for the North Dallas Bulls. Elliott, considered one of the best receivers in the game, is benched and forced to rely heavily on pain killers to keep playing. With pressure mounting by the legendary Coach Strother, Elliott is forced into coercing younger players into the drug-induced, party atmosphere of the times off the field in professional football. The movie, and its cast, resemble the Tom Landry-led Dallas Cowboys of the era, as it’s based on a novel by former Cowboys wide receiver Peter Gent.
3. Glory Road, 2006
Josh Lucas played Texas Western College head basketball coach Don Haskins, who famously started the first all-black lineup in NCAA men’s basketball history. Set in the early 1960s, the movie leads up to Texas Western’s matchup with the notoriously all-white powerhouse University of Kentucky, led by Adolph Rupp (played by Jon Voight). ‘Glory Road’ offers a glimpse into life as a young, black man trying to play a simple game, earn a college education, and fight against daily persecution and bigotry at every level of life in the ’60s.
2. Friday Night Lights, 2004
Odessa, Texas is the scene of ‘Friday Night Lights’ where the Permian Panthers, one of Texas high school football’s elite programs, is led by head coach Gary Gaines (portrayed by Billy Bob Thorton).
It’s state championship or bust for Permian with Derek Luke playing James “Boobie” Miles, the star running back. Lucas Black plays quarterback Mike Winchell, who is thrust into the spotlight as Permian’s 1988 season begins. Based on the true story, ‘Friday Night Lights’ never disappoints, and leaves you surging forward until the very last snap.
1. Varsity Blues, 1999
It’s not just one of the greatest Texas sports movies ever, James Van Der Beek headlines one of the greatest movies ever made. ‘Varsity Blues’ chronicles a West Canaan, Texas high school football program whose first, and only priority, is winning, and keeping head coach Bud Kilmer on top.
Jon Moxon (Van Der Beek) is more interested in his college future than West Canaan football, but becomes the starting quarterback after All-State starter Lance Harbor (played by the late Paul Walker) goes down with a season-ending injury. ‘Varsity Blues’ is a story of redemption, good-character, and Texas football. The comedy-drama will never get old, and holds the title of Greatest Texas Sports Movie ever made.