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7 Sports Movies Perfect for Life After the Olympics

Celebrate sports all year with these classics

Published on: July 13, 2016

The Olympics are about to end (August 21!). What better way to wean yourself off the festivities than watching a few inspiring sports films?

Here are seven great movies about legendary athletes and underdogs alike to keep your family entertained post-Rio.

1. Bend It Like Beckham

Sport: Soccer

Age recommendation: 13+

While the story might not seem strikingly original, the color-drenched tones of the movie, the overlit action scenes and the genuine appeal of the characters, especially Jess, make this film a welcome repast, engaging and entertaining from the first moment to the last. Even if the answers seem a bit pat, it is nice to think that complicated relationships and challenges can be resolved with the proper communications and the ability to make nice, round chapatis.

2. Hoop Dreams

Sport: Basketball

Age recommendation: 13+

Hoop Dreams, a three-hour-long documentary, painstakingly tempers the romanticism characteristic high school athletes by paying special attention to the many roadblocks that stand in the way of Gates and Agee's dreams. This movie provides an excellent way for families to talk about issues such as race and class in urban America, long-term goals, teen sex and drug use and getting good grades.

3. Usain Bolt: The Fastest Man Alive

Sport: Running

Age recommendation: 8+

In this BBC documentary about the Jamaican sprinter who has won six Olympic gold medals and broken numerous world records, sports fans will be wowed and inspired by the amazing speed and tireless work ethic of Bolt. Parents will appreciate how Bolt never blames anyone for his mistakes but works hard to overcome them. Still, young kids or those not very interested in sports may be a bit bored by the documentary.

4. National Velvet

Sport: Equestrian Jumping

Age recommendation: 7+

This is a heartwarming story about dreams — wise and foolish, big and small, realized and impossible — and about the way these dreams change those who are lucky enough to dream them. But it also deals with what happens after the dream comes true. Most of all, National Velvet is the story of a loving family, making it a wonderful starting point for a discussion of the ways that families of all kinds can teach and support each other.

5. The Mighty Macs

Sport: Basketball

Age recommendation: 7+

Despite the constant and effusive "We're No. 1!" speeches, there's a definite charm and a powerful message to this sports tale about the rise to national glory of a Catholic women's college basketball team near Philadelphia. It's particularly good for girls to see. What's more, it's refreshing to see nuns who aren't played for laughs or portrayed as unflinchingly stern instructors; instead, they're kind cheerleaders who genuinely care for the young women at their college. Gugino and her team are the kind of typically irresistible underdogs that you can't help but root for.

6. Touch the Wall

Sport: Swimming

Age recommendation: 10+

Touch the Wall , which chronicles the journey of veteran silver medalist Kara Lynn Joyce and teen newcomer Missy Franklin as they attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London, plays a little bit like one of those official Olympic documentaries, where everything seems a bit too scrubbed clean. But it doesn't resort to artificial drama. Both Joyce and Franklin come across as totally ordinary folks. "I'm not famous!" says Franklin incredulously to an interviewer. "I've just had some media attention." Joyce has it the roughest here, 10 years older than Franklin and struggling with her physical limitations. In the end, the movie gives a good name to these two Olympians, if not Olympians everywhere.

7. Top Spin

Sport: Table Tennis

Age recommendation: 11+

If competitive table tennis wasn't on your radar, it certainly will be after watching this quietly fascinating and compelling look at three high-school kids preparing for the Olympic team trials. Tweens and teens especially will enjoy rooting for Lily, Michael and Ariel to make the team, and will learn a lot about table tennis, sportsmanship, focus and sacrifice. Although the sport may seem quirky to U.S. audiences, going along with these talented athletes through ups and downs, wins and losses in pursuit of their dreams will open kids' eyes to universal themes of sports achievement. 

Originally published by Common Sense Media here and here

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