Sports movies, by their very nature, aren’t for everyone. I’m pretty allergic to manufactured sentimentality, so sports movies that focus on a bunch of misfits who end up winning the big game or the championship put me to sleep. However, my dad, like most American dads, loves sports movies. Every Sunday afternoon was a chance to spend time with my pops and watch a movie on TBS or TCM, even if that meant watching war movies, westerns, and sports stories. When I was nine or ten years old, “A League of Their Own” came on one Sunday afternoon, and I discovered that even I could love a sports movie.
“A League of Their Own” is about baseball to some degree, but what’s more important are the adventures of the players, who learn how to really live outside of their restrictive gender roles. The movie is a glimpse into another time, with loads of sexual humor sneakily baked into the dialogue, because people have always been horny even if it wasn’t considered appropriate to talk about. As a child who thought that everyone in the past was prim, proper, and boring, seeing these women act like real women was mind-blowing. They weren’t just stereotypes or character portraits, but felt like human beings with hopes, dreams, and flaws. I didn’t really care if they won the big game, but I did care about the relationships between the characters, especially between Dottie and Kit. They were so much more than the one-note jokes in “Major League” or the unsettling nostalgia of “Field of Dreams,” and for the first time, a sports movie found its way into my cynical little heart.