The fic­tional sports hall of fame first bal­lot

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer — Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. While it isn’t the popular choice, his favourite sports movie is “The Re­place­ments.” He can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­

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.

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