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The best inspiring pre game speeches from sports movies

October 20, 2009 Leave a comment

rudy

Movies reflect life, and in turn, life imitates movies. Many of the great sports movies are based on true stories, like Rudy. However, how realistic are these movies? Here is today’s question.

How do the inspiring pre game speeches from sports movies compare with motivational pregame speeches from real life?

Best 10 real life pre game speeches

Today we will watch the best 10 inspiring pre game or game time motivational speeches from our favorite sports movies. As we go through the list, let’s analyze their key moments and study them for what makes them great.

The Program (1993)

Premise: The Program, starring James Caan, Halle Berry, and Omar Epps,  is a fictional story following the lives of coach Winters (Caan)  and the players of the ESU Timberwolves as they deal with the pressures of trying to make a bowl game.

Notable scenes: One is the very heterosexual phlegm swapping scene (@1:50) in the locker room between 2 teammates. Another shows Lattimer, who is obviously suffering from roid rage, smashing a car window with his head while screaming “Place at the table!”

You probably would not see this in real life. Coaches, however excited they may be, generally don’t physically hit their players. But seeing as how this is a movie that thrives on testosterone, it does fit. He spends no time on how the team should play the game, so this speech is better saved for the movies.

Did you know?

A scene in the original movie showed several players lying in the middle of the street with traffic whizzing by. The scene was imitated by several teenagers who were either killed or suffered injuries, resulting in the scene being omitted from all other copies.

Hoosiers (AKA Best Shot, 1986)

Premise: Set in 1951, and starring Gene Hackman, is a true story of a small town (Hickory) Indiana basketball team going on to win the state championships under a controversial coach (Hackman).

Notable: The movie has won numerous awards including several Oscar nominations. It remains one of the most highly rated sports movies of all time.

This speech is a bit short. He talks about focusing on the fundamentals and being the best team they can be. However, he does not spend much time on building the team’s confidence and framing the challenges positively. Without the slow clap at the end, the speech would not accomplish its goals.

Did you know?

Dennis Hopper plays the town drunk in the movie, a role which earned him an Oscar nomination for supporting actor.

Rudy (1993)

Premise: Rudy, based on the actual life events of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, is among the most popular football movies of all time. The movie is about Rudy overcoming numerous obstacles while chasing his dream of playing football for the famed Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Notable: Here is the speech before the final game of the season, the only game Rudy is allowed to suit up for. He plays in the game and recorded a sack against the opposing QB.

This speech almost sounds like it was directed at Rudy. Since it’s not a bowl game or a important rivalry, the coach did not bother with a motivational speech. But he does mention the “forever” factor.

Did you know?

Rudy featured the first credited appearances by John Faverau and Vince Vaughn.

Friday Night Lights (2004)

Premise: This instant classic follows the 1988 Permian Panthers of Odessa Texas on their path to the state championships. In Texas, where high school football borders on obsession, everyone on the football team faces enormous pressure. After losing the star running back for the season, Permian’s chances of success are in doubt.

Billy Bob Thornton delivers this memorable speech to his team at  halftime against a powerhouse Dallas team.

This speech touches on the coach’s philosophy of “being perfect”. It doesn’t mean being a perfect football player, it is about living up to your responsibilities as a teammate, and as a human being. To live in the moment and to have love in your heart. It is definitely a surprising topic for a halftime speech, but the performance carries it off.

Did you know?

New York Jets cornerback Ty Law makes an appearance in the movie as a rival wide receiver. He catches a one handed touchdown in the movie.

Little Giants (1994)

Premise: Little Giants stars Rick Moranis and Ed O’Neill as opposing coaches of peewee football in the town of Urbania, Ohio. The Cowboys, coached by O’Neill, is the best team in town. The Giants on the other hand, don’t seem to have a chance. The two teams face off to see which team will survive in the “One town, one team” struggle.

The Giants are down by 21 at halftime and retire to the locker room dispirited. This speech changes their attitudes and changes the game.

No matter how old you are, this speech still has the same magic. The message behind it is self belief and not giving up. Even if you lose 99 out of 100 times, there is still a chance for victory if you don’t give up.

Did you know?

Danny O’Shea (Moranis) and Kevin O’Shea (O’Neill) were a pair of brothers who played in the NHL.

Miracle (2004)

The Premise: The backdrop is the cold war. Russians and Americans have nuclear missiles pointed at each other and the entire focus of the world is on the hockey finals of the 1980 Winter Olympics. The Russians have sent their best, and the U.S. has sent a bunch of college kids. It’s like Rocky IV, but on ice. Too bad the Russians don’t look as crazed as Ivan Drago.

Here is a clip of the last minutes of the actual game.

Coach Brooks (Kurt Russell) knows how big the occasion is and how nervous his team must be. He goes into the locker room, and delivers this speech.

The first line is great. “Great moments, are born from great opportunity.” That is the mindset he wants his players to have. They no doubt face a great opponent in the Russians, but what they can accomplish is unimaginable. This is a rather impractical speech before a game, but it sure makes for a great movie moment.

Did you know?

The speech was also given by another great coach, watch this.

Remember the Titans (2000)

Premise: Starring Denzel, this movie focuses on the racial tensions within the Titans, a newly integrated high school football team from Alexandria, Virginia. Coach Boone (Washington) battles the racial prejudices of the community and leads his team to an undefeated season. At one point he leads the players on a run and arrive at a civil war battlefield, where he gives this powerful speech. The speech is the turning point in the movie and helps to unite the previously divided team.

During the big game in the movie, Coach Yates calls upon his defense to step up their play. It’s short, but very effective.

He gets the message across nice and clear. And that last line will get anyone’s adrenaline pumping. He proves that a speech doesn’t have to be long to achieve its goals. The players must have ran onto the field ready to take their opponents’ heads off.

Did you know?

Hayden Panettiere, the cheerleader from Heroes, plays the daughter of coach Yates.

We Are Marshall (2006)

Premise: In 1970, after a plane crash kills nearly all the members of the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team, the team is about to be disbanded. Coach Jack Lengyal (Matthew McConaughey) steps in to rebuild the program and help the university, and the community to recover from the tragedy. The team goes on to win their first home game of the season despite their lack of experience with a score of 15-13 over Xavier university.

This is a great speech about heart, about laying it all on the line and giving it everything you’ve got. It also uses the “forever” factor to give the players an idea of how important an occasion this is. There is also the “Marshall!” chant at the end to give it a high finish.

Did you know?

Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington, Patriots WR Randy Moss, and Buccaneers QB Byron Leftwich all played for Marshall university.

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Premise: Any Given Sunday had an incredible cast including Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, and many others. It is a fictional film about the Miami Sharks, a once prominent team now struggling to make the playoffs. After two quarterbacks are injured in a game, third string QB Willie Beamen (Foxx) must step in and run the show. He makes a number of errors and also vomits in the huddle. However, he quickly learns the game and goes on to become a star QB in the league, leading the team to a playoff win at the end of the movie.

Notable: This is by far the most popular sports movie speech and is delivered by the legendary Al Pacino.

This speech is used in all sorts of motivational videos for all types of sports. It’s a speech that applies not only to sports, but to life, and to the essence of man’s struggle. He lays it all out and trusts that his players will win as a team, and not lose as individuals. In life you have to give it your all and fight for those inches in front of your face, and teamwork means knowing the man standing next to you will do the same with you.

Did you know?

Sean “P. Diddy” Combs was cast as Willie Beamen, but dropped out due to conflicts with his recording schedule. And the world will forever be grateful.

The takeaway:

Movies can seem similar to real life, they can even be based on real life events, but it is still fictional and speeches in movies cannot be expected to work in real life. They are great when paired with the right music, the right director, and a great actor, but those are not things real coaches have or use. There are things we can learn from these speeches, such as the importance of presentation (Miracle, Friday Night Lights) and the use of dramatic locations (Remember the Titans, We are Marshall). But in the end, we are better off learning from actual coaches.

Bonus Clip:

This one didn’t quite qualify as a pre game speech, but it gets in anyway because it’s freakin badass.

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