Movies and books to get your sports fix and take your mind off the global pandemic
For as long as I can remember, sports have always comforted me in times of uncertainty. Whenever I was stressed about school, an exam, or learning how to live on my own for the first time, sports were my escape.
Now, however, with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, virtually every major sports league and event has either postponed or outright cancelled their season — taking away an outlet to help cope with uncertain times for so many people, like me.
The NCAA’s March Madness tournament, MLB’s opening day, and The Masters golf tournament were right around the corner when the pandemic hit North America hard. Cancelling and delaying those events was the right decision, and though the Washington Post has already reported on how some fans are learning to cope without their daily fix of sports, here are some of my movie and book recommendations to help you get through sports withdrawal this spring.
Happy Gilmore — Directed by Dennis Dugan, Starring Adam Sandler (1996)
Sometimes you need to just shut your brain off and watch something that doesn’t make any sense. With all the stress and anxiety in the world, this comedy about a failed hockey player turned golf pro will make you laugh.
After his grandmother learns the IRS is going to repossess her home, Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler) takes it upon himself to save his childhood home. With a lack of on-ice hockey skills, besides fighting and a power slapshot, Gilmore picks golf after winning numerous long-drive contests at the local golf range and begins to rake up tournament winnings.
Gilmore starts to develop his skills, including his superhuman long drive, and eventually is pitted in a fierce rivalry with Shooter McGavin (Christopher McDonald) for the Tour Championship. While The Masters green jacket won’t be handed out this spring, check out this movie to see who will take home the gold jacket and grandma’s home.
Rudy — Directed by David Anspaugh, Starring Sean Astin (1993)
This biographical film chronicles the journey of walk-on Notre Dame football player Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. Having been told he will never achieve his lifelong dream of playing football for Notre Dame university due to his lack of size and speed, Rudy spends countless hours working his way on to the team.
The movie not only shows the physical activity Rudy does to get into shape, but also what it takes to do well in the classroom to get grades high enough to be accepted to Notre Dame. This inspirational film highlights the mental and physical strength of an individual who’s been told his whole life he can’t accomplish his dreams.
Moneyball — Directed by Bennett Miller, Starring Brad Pitt (2011)
Based on Michael Lewis’s nonfiction book, this movie documents the Oakland Athletics’ 2002 MLB season and highlights the inequalities between small- and large-market teams in professional baseball. Hamstrung by a tight budget, A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) scrambles to field a competitive roster after a rash of his star players sign lucrative contracts with big-budget teams like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
Using analytics and undervalued players, the A’s rattle off a 19-game win streak and clinch a postseason spot. It’s a classic tale of rooting for the little guy: watch this film to see if Beane’s strategy will pay off with a World Series title.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Following the death of her mother and a failed marriage, at 26 years old Strayed felt broken and was in search of an adventure to help her cope through a difficult point in her life. In Wild, she narrates her solo journey of hiking a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail — an over 4 000 kilometre trail from Mexico to Canada.
With little hiking experience, Strayed hiked more than 1 000 kilometres from California to Oregon: forming friendships, overcoming obstacles, and learning about herself on a months-long journey of self-discovery. The book is written with a mix of humour and seriousness, and is the perfect read for anyone looking to overcome depression and heartbreak.
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Another inspirational read, The Boys in the Boat tells the story of the 1936 University of Washington rowing team’s journey to a gold medal in the 1936 Olympics. The book gives insight into the boys’ white-collar backgrounds, and, specifically, focuses on Joe Rantz, who was exiled from his family by his stepmother and had to forage on his own for years before ultimately contributing to Washington’s shocking victory over Germany at the Berlin games.
A Season on the Brink by John Feinstein
Finally, this nonfiction book is an account of the 1985-86 University of Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball team. Feinstein takes the audience behind the scenes — each practice, game, and charter plane ride — into one of the most successful university basketball programs in the U.S.
Full of the usual ups and downs of a basketball season, Feinstein follows legendary Indiana head coach Bob Knight — capturing his every every human moment and outburst. It’s a book widely celebrated as one of the best basketball books of all time, capturing the intensity, highs, and lows of college athletics.