Back to School - Murphy-Libby Championship


Ahead of our Back to School weekend, Nate McKenzie launches the first round of the Murphy-Libby Championship, where we ask YOU to vote for your favourite school sports movie...

When the fearless leaders of /Garbage-file announced that we would be hosting a tribute day in honor of the excitement and horror of the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year I mulled over my options for an article. For me, and most people here in the States, back to school means a new season of high school, college, and professional football - that is, our version, not "the beautiful game" as Pele called that which I call soccer.

At the end of summer I tend to find myself gravitating back to movies such as Varsity Blues, Friday Night Lights, and Remember the Titans. Though I am a huge fan of any sports movie, that is echoed multi-fold for any high school sports movie. There is something pure and honest about young people playing the sport that they love for nothing other than personal accomplishment and hometown pride.

So it was hard for me to choose. Hoosiers? All the Right Moves? Bring It On? Which one deserved my attention? I couldn't make a decision (story of my life). But the idea of sports movies vying for attention in my head led me to the solution: they would compete with each other! Playoff style!

So I took out my ruler, my pocket protector, my calculator, and my college ruled notebook and set to determining the contestants using a very precise and complicated mathematical equation that I totally did not make up.

Basically, it went like this: I wrote down every high school sports movie I could think of and then found reasons to pick them off like slow kids in dodgeball, cutting them from the fray, and finally ending up with sixteen that would make up the playoff bracket. See? Very scientific.

To be fair, I tried to pick the best from each major sport (here in the States); those being football, baseball, and basketball. Then I made sure that any other sport that would be included in high school, that had a relatively decent representation in film, was included. Otherwise, the competition would be 99% football and basketball. Seriously, there are a lot of movies about those sports. Variety was key. The "X" factor. (Yay for sports cliches!)

Here are your powerhouses, your up-and-comers, and the scrappy locals with hearts of gold.


#1 Seeds: Hoosiers, Friday Night Lights, Remember the Titans, Sandlot

Hoosiers gets the overall #1 nod. For obvious reasons. Remember the Titans and Friday Night Lights easily took two of the other slots. Football in American reigns supreme and these are two of the finest examples of Sandlot is the fourth #1 and if you argue with me you're wrong.

#2 Seeds: The Mighty Ducks, Karate Kid, Bring It On, Varsity Blues

Don't even come at me about Bring It On. Cheerleading is a sport. More importantly, cheerleaders are the best part of high school. Especially when one of the cheerleaders is Eliza Dushku. Varsity Blues is an obvious inclusion. The Mighty Ducks is an absolute classic. It might have surprised you to see The Karate Kid in the bracket but kids who beat up floppy-blond-haired jerks using sweet moves they learned from painting an old Asian dudes fence are definitely athletes in my book.

The 3 and 4 seeds are all terrific movies but any upset from them would be monumental. Like, as monumental as if Pete had hit that final shot to beat that team from the inner city in The Pistol (which didn't make the cut because the movie is only "Meh"). But that didn't happen. Although, I would love to be surprised, oh wonderful /G-f patron! After all, everyone loves an underdog.

What I ended up with may not be perfect but I tried to be fair. A few are on the edge of acceptable. The characters in Lords of Dogtown started out as teen youths, so that qualified them in my mind (in addition to the need for a more well-rounded representation of different sports). The Rookie is very fringe because Dennis Quaid ends up playing professional baseball but he is a high school baseball coach trying to teach his teenage players an important lesson about following their dreams. That works for me. Basketball Diaries just barely made the cut, being that it is a drama with the sport as a backdrop, but it shows the pressures and trials of being a kid in school and how easily youth can slip through the cracks even as they are popular athletes. Also, a few of the movies feature kids younger than high school age. But if you expect me to make a playoff bracket about the best school sports movies and NOT include the Mighty Ducks or Sandlot then you probably think Babe Ruth was a woman, Smalls.

Why didn't The Blind Side make it, you might ask? Because it's just way too heavy handed. And also, the real Ann Tuohy is kind of full of shit and rubs me the wrong way and I'm the one writing this. Additionally, Titans and FNL are far superior movies and also based on true stories. Sorry, there's only so much room. If your favorite school sports movie didn't make the tourney, let me know so I can tell you why it's a terrible movie and didn't make the cut.

Vote with your head, vote with your heart, vote with darts (do I have to say "don't actually throw darts at your computer"? ...). I don't care your method, just vote and find out which will be crowned the greatest school sports movie of all-time and raise the /Garbage-file Murphy-Libby Championship trophy.


Go to our Facebook page at where all the rounds will be taking place. Round one is today, ending at 07:00 BST tomorrow morning, with the quarters tomorrow and the semis and final on our Back to School Weekend.

Not on Facebook, you'll find the first round HERE!

Remember there's no prizes it's just for fun.

Images - IMDb
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