The fictional sports hall of fame first ballot
The sports cinematic universe is a melting pot of fiction and non-fiction.
For every tale about some real world underdog about teams like the Texas Western University Miners from “Glory Road,” there are just as many flicks about make believe athletes or make believe teams.
Iconic characters such as Kyle Lee Watson (“Above the Rim”), Nuke Laloosh (“Bull Durham”), Thunder Lips (“Rocky III”) and Les Averman (“The Mighty Ducks”) litter the sports movie landscape, meshing with the likes of Jackie Robinson, Rudy Ruettiger and Jimmy Morris. If you’re not sure who the real ones are, Google them.
Those are just a handful of the colourful athletes, real or imaginary, that have graced our movie screens over the years.
Sports movies have held a special place in my heart since I was a kid. It is not just because I’m a bit of a sports nut — it’s more like there’s not a lot of thinking involved.
You don’t have to figure out any complicated plot twists or try to decipher what is really going on — I’m looking at you “Mulholland Drive” — all that is required of you is to watch and revel in the fun these movies bring in their simplicity.
Sometimes, they have a secondary plot. Like brother vs. brother, or something like that.
There was also the matter of legendary characters overcoming insurmountable odds to take home the title.
With these characters comes the question: what if there was a hallowed hall where the great heroes from our favourite sports movies could be enshrined for all time? Who would be on the first ballot? A coworker of mine jokingly, I think, suggested Dion Phaneuf be inducted. Although he plays the role of a hockey player on television, Dion doesn’t count.
(Editor’s Note: The coworker in question meant to imply that Phaneuf is not a real hockey player — only a mere figment of our collective imagination. Does anyone really notice him on TV?) So, who gets in on the first ballot? First, there is some criteria to meet. The player has to be make-believe and they have to be a giant in their own world.
They must lead, or try and lead their team to victory in the film’s final game or own at least one memorable speech that lifts up his teammates.
They can be from a stand alone film or a series of movies, ala The Mighty Ducks and it helps if they get the girl at the end.
For me, there are only a handful of characters that would start the list. Here are my initial selections:
• Mighty Ducks captain Charlie Conway;
• Crash Davis from “Bull Durham”;
• Reg Dunlap from “Slap Shot”;
• Ricky Vaughn of “Major League”; and
• Rocky Balboa, the iconic heavyweight champion.
These need no introductions and they include iconic player-coaches, quintessential captains, journeymen and iron chins.
Most of them got the girl at the end and won several titles. In Conway’s case, he won a fake world championship, went to a fake private high school and then won a fake JV-varsity game.
Since this is my list, I’m going with 10 initial entrants to my hall of fake fame.
The above five are the first. Here are the final five:
• Ricky Bobby – “Talladega Nights”;
• Roy Hobbs – “The Natural”;
• Benny ‘The Jet’ Rodriquez – “The Sandlot”;
• Jimmy Chitwood – “Hoosiers”; and
• Shane Falco – “The Replacements”
Just missing the cut were Jake Taylor (“Major League”), Willie Beamen (“Any Given Sunday”), the Hansons (“Slap Shot”), Dean Youngblood (“Youngblood”) and Roy McAvoy (“Tin Cup”).
There it is. Not a bad start to the fictional sports hall of fame. If I missed anyone, drop me a line at the email below. I’d also consider entire teams for entry.
Maybe I’ll induct a second class this time next year.