Welcome one and all to our next installment of the Sportcodex brackets. Previously we did action movie stars, I believe during the last lockdown here in New Zealand. This time, we are doing sports movies, although we are doing it slightly different.

Last time, we sorted out the participants and their seeding on a podcast with the old mate Rents. This time around, I have curated the list of 64 sports movies and seeded them based on a combination of their Rotten Tomatoes critics score and audience score. Rather than putting the whole list here, the matchups will be revealed each day, 8 movies (four matchups) at a time until we get through the first round. Then we will figure out the rest as we go.

Enough shenanigans. Let’s get on with the first four matchups.

1. Ford V Ferrari vs 64. The Air Up There

Ford V Ferrari is a 2019 film directed by James Mangold, the director of Logan, Walk The Line, 3:10 To Yuma and the criminally underrated Cop Land, and stars Christian Bale and Matt Damon. It tells the true story of Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles teaming up to design a car for Ford that could be Ferrari in the Le Mans race.

The Air Up There is a 1994 basketball movie directed by Paul Michael Glaser who did The Running Man (which is great) and Kazaam (which really is not), and it stars Kevin Bacon and Dikembe Mutombo’s brother. It’s about a college head coach who goes to Africa to find a star player he saw on a grainy home video.

Ford V Ferrari has an average Rotten Tomatoes score of 95%, whereas The Air Up There has an average score of 28%. Very rarely will I play favourites in these matchups but all I’ll say here is that there is a clear reason for the massive difference.

2. Raging Bull vs 63. The Mighty Ducks

Raging Bull is a 1980 film directed by the one and only Martin Scorsese. It stars Robert De Niro, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor, and Joe Pesci. It tells the story of Jake LaMotta, an excellent boxer who uses his rage to his advantage in the ring, but is cursed in life outside of the ring because of that same rage.

The Mighty Ducks is a 1992 Disney film directed by Stephen Herek, who also directed Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The Three Musketeers (1993) and Mr. Holland’s Opus. It stars Emilio Estevez as Gordon Bombay, a former hockey player who gets arrested for drunk driving (very Disney) and must coach a children’s hockey team as part of his community service.

Raging Bull has an average RT score of 93%, whereas The Mighty Ducks has an average RT score of only 43%. While I think there is little doubt which is the “better” movie, the latter film is heavily penalised by a woeful 21% critics score, dragging it’s average down. This one boils down to serious boxing drama vs fun family film.

3. The Wrestler vs 62. Blue Chips

The Wrestler is a 2008 film directed by Darren Aronofsky, director of Black Swan, Noah and Requiem For A Dream. It stars Mickey Rourke, in a performance that got him a Best Actor nomination, as well as Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. It follows a pro wrestler, Randy ‘The Ram’ Robinson, who has to retire on the advice of his doctor, who tells him a serious bump could kill him. He tries to adjust to life after wrestling but the urge to make a comeback might be too strong.

Blue Chips is a 1994 film directed by William Friedkin, director of The French Connection, Sorceror and The Exorcist. (Writer’s Note: I had no idea Friedkin directed this and it’s blowing my mind right now.) It stars Nick Nolte and Shaquille O’Neal. It follows a college coach, Pete Bell, and the pressures he faces trying to get his team to win when all other teams are using boosters to illegally pay off stars of the future.

The Wrestler has an average RT score of 93%, whereas Blue Chips has an average RT score of 44%. I feel that The Wrestler is the highest seed that faces serious competition of being eliminated in the first round, not due to the quality of the movie (it’s incredible) but because people say wrestling isn’t a sport. That may be a fair statement but the film follows the tropes of a sports drama and wrestlers need to be athletic as hell these days so I’m counting it.

4. Creed vs 61. The Waterboy

Creed is a 2015 film, written and directed by Ryan Coogler, who also did Fruitvale Station and Black Panther, and stars Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone, the latter reprising his role as the infamous Rocky Balboa. This is both a spin-off of and a sequel to the Rocky film franchise, and is also the only film in the entire Rocky universe, not written in any way by Stallone. It follows the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, Adonis, who embarks on his own boxing career and recruits his father’s best friend and rival, Rocky Balboa, to train him.

The Waterboy is a 1998 film directed by longtime Adam Sandler collaborator, Frank Coraci and stars, of course, Adam Sandler, as well as Kathy Bates and Henry Winkler. The movie follows Bobby Boucher, an H2O enthusiast who is the water boy of a struggling college football team. It is soon discovered that Boucher is a defensive prodigy who can turn around the fate of the Mud Dogs.

Creed has an average RT score of 92%, whereas The Waterboy has an average RT score of 52.50%. The latter is another film that is heavily penalised by a low critic’s score as it is very popular with audiences. I think had it come up against nearly any other of the “heavyweights” then it may have stood a chance at pulling off an upset, but The Waterboy will struggle to get past Creed, which a lot of people consider to be the best film of the franchise.

There are our first four matchups. The polls for these will drop tonight or tomorrow, so be sure to follow The Sportcodex on Twitter so you don’t miss out.

Share it with your friends, your family, and even your enemies. I don’t care. Either way, make sure you vote.

That’s all I have to say for now, but remember this; peanuts aren’t actually nuts, but legumes.

Until tomorrow, PEACE!