Sporting Movies – Fun Facts

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Next Goal Wins

Inspirational sports movies are always guaranteed to shed a tear and spread a cheer in equal measures. To celebrate the upcoming release of Next Goal Wins, which is released on DVD on 1st September, we wanted to look at fun facts behind some of these much loved films which you probably didn’t know…

Next Goal Wins

Next Goal Wins is a classic underdog movie set amongst the beauty and tribal magic of the South Pacific.

The film follows the American Samoan football team after FIFA officially ranked them ‘the worst team in the world’ after they suffered a record 31-0 defeat against Australia. Suffering the scars of being the world’s worst team, the film follows the team as they prepare to take part in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

However did you know that before this film was commissioned, The American Samoa football team had refused permission to numerous film and TV crews before being approached by directors Mike Brett and Steve Jamison. The directors were given permission to film the team because they aimed to celebrate the fact that the team continued to play in the face of their defeats.

When filming began the team were on the bottom of FIFA’s World rankings and had only scored twice in seventeen years.

The team’s defender Jaiyah Saelua is the first transgender player to compete in a men’s FIFA World Cup qualifier.

Cool Runnings

An epic story that is based on true events – the events of Jamaica’s first ever bobsled team trying to make it to the Winter Olympics. However contrary to scenes in the film, the Jamaican team were actually met with open arms by the other international teams taking part. One of the other teams even went so far as to lend the Jamaican team a back-up sled so they could qualify.

The crash scene we see at the end of the movie is actually the real footage taken from the 1988 Winter Olympic Games.


The ultimate fighting film; this follows the dramatic story of small-time boxer Rocky Balboa as he takes on heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed.

A turning point in Hollywood, Rocky was the first sports film to win an Oscar for Best Picture.

At one point singer/actress Cher was considered for the role of Adrian, but the part went to Talia Shire.

Butkus, the dog was actually Sylvester Stallone’s dog.


The successful story of a coach, who on a shoestring budget, uses computer technology to help him pick players for his team.

Chris Pratt was told he was too fat when he auditioned for the role of Scott Hatteberg, Pratt decided to lose weight before the role was cast – he won the role.

All but one of the scouts in the movie were played by real Major League Baseball scouts.

It was the first baseball movie to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award (Oscar) since Field of Dreams (1989) twenty-two years earlier.


This hilarious caper follows the plight of a once champion bowler – when he gets “cut off” from playing he decides to find a prodigy to take over his mantle.

Did you know the scene where Ernie McCracken bowled three strikes in a row was real… who knew Bill Murray was such a dab hand at bowling! According to directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly, Woody Harrelson was a terrible bowler.

The entire commercial Ernie McCracken does for the kids, was ad-libbed by Bill Murray.

Jim Carrey was the first choice to play Ernie McCracken.


A classic comedy following the Cleaveland Indians baseball team, they’re awful… or are they?!

Charlie Sheen really was a pitcher in high school as well as playing pitcher Ricky Vaughn in the movie!

Jeremy Piven was cast in the film but his part did not make the final cut.

Many of the baseball players were members of the University of Arizona baseball team.


The story of a small town basketball team like non-other, this film is based on the real life underdog story of Milan Indians.

Did you know the movie was renamed “Best Shot” for the European release because most Europeans wouldn’t know what a Hoosier was!

The announcer at the final game in the film was the announcer from the real life game.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story 

A laugh-out-loud comedy following a group of misfits who enter a dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas.

Ben Stiller broke three cameras in succession filming one scene, and even hit his wife and co-star Christine Taylor in the face once!

According to many cast members, the hardest part of filming the dodgeball scenes was not flinching when they knew they were about to be hit by a ball.


The real life account of prizewinning horse; Sea Biscuit – did you know that ten different horses played the role of Seabiscuit.

Jockey legends Charles Kurtsinge and George Woolf are portrayred by real-life jockeys, Chris McCarrow and Gary Stevens.

The Karate Kid

A coming of age story, a local kid gets taught karate by a local handy man and martial arts expert after witnessing him being picked on by local bullies.

Before Ralph Machhio was cast in the infamous role of Daniel LaRusso, both Charlie Sheen and Sean Penn turned down the role of this iconic character.

When he originally auditioned for the role of Miyagi, Pat Morita faked his Japanese accent and was rejected the part. After a little coaching from his uncle who taught him how to talk with a “proper” Japanese accent, he auditioned for a second time and got the part!


Next Goal Wins is out on DVD on Monday (1st September).

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.


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