This can't be a real list, can it? How could any self-respecting person create a list of the best coaches from sports movies and leave off the likes of Herman Boone, Ken Carter and Gary Gaines? I was informed by my co-worker and pal Jeff D. Lowe that ESPN did this yesterday and was apparently scolded for calling Herman Boone a "fictional coach" so it re-made the list.
But the word "fictional" is also no longer included, so Boone and others based on real people could have been included. Putting Jackie Moon and Michael Jordan on a list of best sports movie coaches and leaving off the likes which ESPN did is absolutely unacceptable and disrespectful to the real sports movie coaches who have made a difference. I will now be compiling my own list with those coaches which should have been on this list in the first place.
I'll start with the 20 percent of ESPN's list which it actually got right, which is Gordon Bombay and Norman Dale — although given what Jeff said, I don't know how Dale can be on this list, since Hoosiers is based on a real team, but whatever. Though they took different routes to get to where they were, these guys know how to get the best out of their kids. If Bombay never gets that DUI, who knows what ever becomes of the District 5 Ducks?
Now we'll move on to the glaring omissions, starting with Herman Boone. I didn't see whatever tweet ESPN put out that apparently got roasted for saying Boone was a fictional coach, but you simply remove the word fictional and include the coaches who deserve to be on this list. I'm still angry looking at it.
Coach Boone took a group of integrated kids in the racially divided South in 1971 and turned them into a team which went on to win the state championship and we're going to leave him off this list? No sir.
This is a coach I didn't see anybody mention in the comments, but for my money has to be on this list: Sean Porter.
Gridiron Gang is one of my favorite sports movies. It's criminally underrated. And there is no better example of a coach who taught a group of men how to be a team and be better people than Coach Porter. Taking a group of juvenile inmates and rival gang members and turning them into a successful football team is probably the best coaching job out of anybody on this list.
Next up is Gary Gaines. Here's a man who gave us one of the most inspiring halftime speeches in movie history, and yet he, too, was left out in the cold on this one. If only for this speech, Coach Gaines should be on any list of best sports movie coaches. Was he the best tactician or decision-maker? Maybe not.
But I dare you to watch this and not get chills every time.
And to round out the list of omissions, we have Coach Carter. Here's a man who took a group of kids which originally hated him and turned them into kids who cared about their educations and futures as well as basketball. And he turned them into a team which was willing to pick up the additional suicides and push-ups for one of their former teammates to get back onto the team.
Ken Carter did it the right way.
So that's my list of the best sports movie coaches, real or fictitious. Who's on your list?