Top 5 Sports Movies Filmed at Colleges

With all the excitement of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics still rolling, let’s recall the best sports films we’ve seen.

Get ready to curl up with a bowl of popcorn on the couch for these movies that were set and filmed at several colleges in the country.

Top 5 Sports Movies Filmed at Colleges

Breaking Away (1979)


It’s not a common sports movie choice, but it created an inspiring motivation for this movie: biking.

It’s a comedy, and focuses on coming of age, but it involved a bike race, and was shot at Indiana University Bloomington, where the writer had studied.

It involved recent high school graduates, and the protagonist who became obsessed with Italian cycling, and wanting to impress a girl studying at the university.

The film was in the top 8 of America’s 100 Most Inspiring Movies, and the star actor, Dennis Christopher, won a BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer.

Dave Stoller (played by Dennis Christopher) and his three friends lived in the college town, and often clashed with the university students. When Dave won a bicycle, he became obsessed with all things Italian, and even pretended to be an Italian exchange student to flirt with a college girl.

When an Italian cycling race came to their town, Dave and his friends joined the competition, ultimately becoming champions, with Dave at the lead, while pedaling with an injury.

At the end of the film, Dave met a French girl at the university (where he enrolled in after the race), and become obsessed with Tour de France.

Necessary Roughness (1991)


A sports comedy about football, this film was set as a fictional Texas State University, with the team “Fightin’ Armadillos”. The team was given a “death penalty” for a violation, inspired by the ones given to the Southern Methodist University by the NCAA in 1987.

The Texas State University has to start the season with an entirely new crew and team of players.

In the film, the Armadillos used to be one of the strongest college football teams, until their violations caught up with them. The coach had to gather new players, but was only allowed 17 players.

The assistant coach finally finds a 34-year-old player who never graduated went to college. The player, Paul Blake, enrolls in the university and becomes the quarterback.

After many challenges, the team is finally able to face the University of Texas Colts, the most powerful football team. The team suffers during the first half, but soon finds the determination to win the game.

Although there wasn’t a real Texas State University, the film was shot across Texas and mostly at the University of North Texas, Denton.

Coincidentally, in 2003, the Southwest Texas State University changed their name to “Texas State University”, and adopted the Bobcats as their name.

Rudy (1993)


It’s one of the most iconic sports films about the underdog achieving his dream despite all the obstacles in his way. It’s based on real life events of college football player Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger.

He was undersized, and at 5’6” he wasn’t as big as the other players. It was a childhood dream, but Rudy wanted to achieve it even though many people tried to undermine him.

Rudy wanted to study at and play for the University of Notre Dame du Lac (or just Notre Dame).

Coincidentally, although many parts of the movie were shot at different states, the college setting was really at the Notre Dame campus. It was the first film to be allowed to do so since 1940.

Glory Road (2006)


Another film inspired by real-life events, “Glory Road” is about Texas Western College football coach Don Haskins (played by Josh Lucas) who faces financial and racial challenges in forming a team regardless of race and color.

The team started with seven black players, and five white ones. Haskins received negative feedbacks, but continued with his strategy. The team faced many racial challenges, and in the 1965-66 regular season, the Texas Western Miners suffered a humiliating defeat.

The team ranked third in the NCAA tournament, though, and was able to face off at the finals with the University of Kentucky’s all-white team. Haskins decided to start with an all-black lineup.

In an interview about the movie, Haskins said that he wasn’t thinking about breaking racial boundaries at that time because his first and foremost thoughts were putting forth his best players, who happened to be black.

The Miners won against Kentucky, and returned home winners. The film was set and shot at the University of Texas, El Paso (the present name of the Texas Western College).

The Hammer (2010)


This is a film based on the life of Matt Hamill, a wrestler and mixed martial artist. Hamill was also deaf, yet was able to win a collegiate wrestling championship. He also competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Hamill won the NCAA Wrestling Division III title, being the first deaf athlete to do so.

Hamill is played by Russell Harvard, a deaf actor, and won a Breakthrough Film award.

The production crew carefully developed the film, with deaf actors in mind, to represent the hearing-impaired community.

The film was set in Rochester Institute of Technology, where Hamill won a scholarship. In the production, though, many of the scenes were actually shot at the University of Rochester.

Rob Clark admin staff managing editor

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