The Starting Lineup of Every Sports Movie Ever

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When you’ve seen as many movies as I have—and I’d strongly caution against doing so—you start to notice the patterns. Through sheer repetition of stock characters and plot threads, Hollywood perpetuates a lot of myths about modern living that are not exactly true. Many of them are downright ridiculous. We Were Promised Hoverboards is a series in which I investigate these myths for sociological and comedic purposes.

Playing for a professional sports team is like living in an everlasting magic show filled with magic. You get to travel around the country, constantly getting into bar fights with rival teams and doing sex to people. If you’re lucky enough, you might even live to see the eerie phenomenon of sports fans wearing your jersey, either because they desire to live inside your face, or to make the vain suggestion that they are as good at sports as you. No matter how interesting the people you meet are, though, nobody will ever be as remarkable as your fellow teammates. Every sports team is a microcosm of different personality types and abilities, unique as Faberge Eggs. Some of the sports teams portrayed in movies do tend to have a shared detail or two, though. Here are some of the more common elements:

The Vet

This grizzled oldster has been around a long time and he’s seen a lot of changes in the game. Apparently this here game used to mean something, but now it’s all about flash and money, if you can even believe that. He also has an old injury that keeps flaring up, but luckily it will remain benign for a while, allowing the coach to hold off grounding him until after he’s made a key play or hit some milestone. The vet is very much a boring person.

The Rookie

The Rookie has more potential than actual skills, but with a little trial and error, a special relationship with the coach, and perhaps the love of a good woman, he will soon come into his own. Will it be in time for The Big Game? That’s anyone’s guess, really.

The Idiot

Every team has at least one player who is dumber than a sombrero full of thumbtacks. He is the kind of stupid that usually requires a 24 hour caregiver, yet nobody is concerned for his health. It’s funny when he talks because you never know what dumb thing he’ll say next. There’s nothing too distinctive about his athletic skills, but he keeps morale sky-high.

The Foreigner

Sports teams tend to draw from a wide pool of talent. Sometimes that pool even dips into international waters, allowing immigrants to steal more jobs from hard-working Americans. The garbled things that come out of The Foreigner’s mouth are funny because his home country is way different from America. There’s a chance that the team will learn just as much from him as he does from the team.

The Preacher

There is always at least one player on every sports team who takes his spirituality very seriously and preaches it to others at every possible turn. He might be into Jesus, Buddha, Allah, or Jewish God, but in most cases he probably won’t be into Jewish God.

The Fatty

You might think that being in shape would be a prerequisite for a sports team, but then you’d be wildly misinformed about the hiring practices of professional athletics. Stop being so misinformed all the time! Fat guys on sports teams can always be counted on for a good shenanigan… or even multiple shenanigans. Watch out, though, because at some point they will probably vomit and/or fart on/near everyone.

The Flawed

Great utility players are hard to come by. Rarely does anyone possess the wide array of skills that comprise all-around greatness. Much more common is the player who is almost the complete package but has one huge, tragic flaw — like not being able to CATCH THE BALL. Others will give him crap for it, but because he is so good at everything else, they will forgive him most of the time, especially since he will correct this flaw before or during The Big Game.

The Showboat

This person is more concerned with looking good personally than with helping the team. Others will give him crap for it, but because he is so good at everything else, they will forgive him most of the time, especially since he will morph into a team player before or during The Big Game. He also may or may not also be the one to lead the team in a locker room dance-bonding moment.

The Wunderkind

The wunderkind is young, brash, and smug. He is not professionally trained, but his skills are off-the-charts miraculous. Also, he probably won’t join the team until the team has had a chance to lose a few games and really needs the help. Unfortunately the wunderkind will steal playing time away from all of his many deserving teammates. Others will give him crap for it, but because he is so good at everything else, they will forgive him most of the time, especially since he will be reined in by the coach before or during The Big Game.

Joe Berkowitz edits books and writes stuff. He also has a Tumblr.