From biopics to documentaries and everything in-between, the entertainment industry is no stranger to movies about sports. Whether your favorite movie is The Blindside (2009), based off football offensive tackle Michael Oher’s life, or I, Tonya (2018), the mockumentary based off Tonya Harding’s infamous ice-skating scandal, there’s a movie for everyone. Still, some movies are underrated and are must-watch motion pictures for women in sports. If you have a day off or no weekend plans, consider watching one of these movies to get inspired!
1. Daughters of the Sexual Revolution: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (2018)
Over the years, there has been an infinite debate on whether cheerleading is considered a sport. Regardless of your stance, this documentary is eye-opening and will change your perspective on NFL cheerleaders and how women in general are treated in the sports industry—and in life.
The film discusses themes of diversity, intersectionality, empowerment, and sex, while also delving into the pioneer and powerhouse that is Suzanne Mitchell, the founder and former director of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders from 1976-1989. Under her guidance, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders rose to international fame, thus setting a precedent for cheerleading, dance, and game day entertainment. However, the girls reaching their legendary status came with great costs and hardships, including familial and domestic abuse, being stalked, working for unlivable wages, and even being shot at overseas.
To learn more about the origin and crazy history of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and how they became who they are today, you can stream Daughters of the Sexual Revolution on Starz or rent it from YouTube and Apple TV.
2. Set It Up (2018)
A romantic comedy first and a sports movie second, Netflix’s Set It Up follows Harper and Charlie who try to set up their bosses so they can have more free time—as opposed to wasting away while running errands as assistants. Still, the movie has a background theme about sports, specifically about women in sports, as Harper’s boss, Kirsten, is a former journalist-turned-editor of an online sports journalism empire.
While the movie’s plot moves along as the relationship between Harper and Charlie builds, including an almost-date at a Yankees game, the audience still gets to see Harper follow her dreams of writing sports journalism. She eventually moves up in her career from being an assistant to becoming a writer for Kirsten’s website. With a realistic depiction of moving up the corporate latter, a cute rom-com story, and laugh-out-loud scenes with Pete Davidson, Set It Up is a must-watch for those who dream of working in a big city and falling in love—with both their job and a romantic partner.
3. Whip It (2009)
Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, Whip It, follows Bliss, a teenager who falls in love with one of the most demanding extreme sports—roller derby—despite her mother’s efforts to make her into a perfect, poised pageant girl. Bliss starts as a rookie, still using her Barbie skates from when she was little but quickly finds her footing on her team and helps lead them to a championship.
Bliss’s newfound love for roller derby ends up putting a strain on her relationships with her parents, best friend, and rival teammates, but the film still emphasizes how sport cannot only build confidence within individuals but also a community, friendships, and a place to belong, especially for women who have the same interests and desires. While you’ll have to stream the movie on Amazon Prime to find out if Bliss successfully leads her team to a championship victory and rebuilds the relationships she loses throughout the movie, there’s no question that sport can positively impact a person’s life, even if it means screwing up along the way.
Interested in more movies about women in sports? Keep a look out for upcoming blogs in the next few weeks discussing movies that follow female athletes, women in the sports industry, and more.