Sports Smörgåsbord

Sports can be portrayed in a variety of ways based on the circumstances. Sometimes they are viewed as negative, characterized as the grading scale of the nasty school hierarchy. Other times, they are presented far more positively: as a source of support and valuable life lessons to fall back on when times get tough. Like any other subject, it is wise to experience several perspectives before forming your own conclusions. Media is meant to influence the opinions of its audience, and it is easy to be unaware of a biased viewpoint until exploring different portrayals of sports or another topic. Whether it’s to become more open-minded about athletics or perhaps just for some sporty entertainment  to pass the time with, a list is compiled below of both book and movie recommendations.

graphic by <span class="credit credit- "><a href="/credit/"John/" title="View all of this person's work">"John</a></span>

graphic by John Liang



  • Hit Count by Chris Lynch – Arlo Brodie, a freshman football player, gets his chance to star on the field after his older brother suffers too many concussions. Encouraged by his coach and father, not to mention the intense sport mentality of playing past any and all pain, Arlo struggles to make his own decision between his passion and his health. Hit Count does an informative job highlighting the more sinister side to the glamour of competitive sports.
  • Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert – When his loving evangelist father is rightfully arrested for the hit-and-run murder of a cop, high school pitching star Braden Raynor struggles to smooth out his shaken-up world. It’s shaken up even more by his older brother returning for guardianship, having openly despised their father and abandoned their faith (a cornerstone of the Raynor household, right next to baseball). Conviction sensitively handles faith, family, and the personal importance of sports as something that falls complicatedly into a gray area of morality.
  • The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen – High school junior and track star Jessica goes from the best day of her life to the worst when their team van is hit on the way back from a meet where she’d just sprinted her personal best. She returns to school with a prosthetic that can walk but cannot run. The Running Dream is realistic and inspirational, capturing the struggles of coping with change and moving past trauma with the motivating passion of a sport.

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graphic by Avery Hom



  • The Karate Kid – Who hasn’t heard of this cinematic staple by now? A classic tale of a scrappy outsider underdog determined to prove something to the world and to himself, with plenty of wit and humor greasing the plot gears: it’s worth a watch, and a rewatch if you’ve already seen it once.
  • A League of Their Own – Women’s sports don’t always quite get the coverage it deserves, but A League of Their Own focuses on just that — albeit a fictionalized story of how the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League got its start. While its age (produced in the early 1990s) is obvious in some places, its humor and spirit remain relevant, as do its themes of teamwork, trailblazing, and gender equality.
  • The Sandlot – Another classic, The Sandlot isn’t high cinema at all. It’s fun, though, and more than that, it’s funny, with a certain rough charm to its simple plot of neighborhood baseball and equally simple pleasures enjoyed by the young cast. The ability to evoke nostalgia is its strongest point, for both those who remember seeing it growing up, and also those who haven’t seen it yet.



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