When coming up with a sports movie’s ending, filmmakers can typically take one of two options: triumph or trauma.
While the latter is applicable in certain cases, most viewers would prefer to watch a film that ends with victory for the hero in question.
This is particularly the case when it comes to sports films.
Could you imagine Space Jam ending with Michael Jordan failing to dunk that last basket?
If that happened, the world would have been a much more miserable place.
After all, you’re following a narrative that typically builds towards a major event.
If the team or individual the story is built around doesn’t come away with some form of success from said event, it’s going to leave the audience disappointed.
This is why the large majority of movies lean on the element of victory.
Based on an in-depth analysis of the top 50 sports films as ranked by IMDb, almost 80% of these flicks go with that trope.
Their research also highlights a few other points about triumph and why it should be used.
The most memorable sports movies end in triumph
With the scope of a movie considered, nobody cares about a soccer team that was knocked out during World Cup qualification, or an NHL team that can never make the playoffs.
These types of scenarios don’t typically make for a memorable story.
Yet a large portion of sporting movies take direct – or indirect – inspiration from real-life stories, as researched by Betway Casino.
When it comes to the best stories, it’s fair to assume most are those that end in, you guessed it, triumph.
People remember incredible sporting achievements and the ultimate underdogs achieving glory, and that’s why they serve as a strong foundation for the silver screen.
It’s not necessarily about winning or losing
It is not uncommon for a sports movie to finish on a high, yet the hero didn’t actually win the big event the film was building towards.
This happens in everything from Rocky to Cool Runnings.
Ultimately, it’s the journey that counts.
Whether the main character or team is successful in that journey isn’t necessarily directed by the need to win.
There are exceptions to the rule when it comes to sports movies
As mentioned previously, not every sports movie goes with sunshine and rainbows in its conclusion.
Million Dollar Baby, for instance, is one of the most revered sports films of all time.
Yet this 2005 Oscar winner for Best Picture is the opposite of sporting triumph.
Rather than the protagonist Maggie Fitzgerald winning her big title fight, she ends up as a quadriplegic due to a broken neck.
The heartache only continues from there until it culminates with Maggie asking her trainer, Frankie Dunn, to help her die – which he reluctantly does in the end.
Sometimes this approach is fine.
It can, as in Million Dollar Baby’s case, serve a greater purpose than if Maggie had simply won the title.
For the most part, however, triumph is the better vehicle towards a sporting movie’s conclusion than a disheartening, yet thought-provoking end.
What do you make of this feature?
Which are your favourite sports movies?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.