South Carolina is no stranger to being the underdog. As our football team gears up for its big game against Clemson this weekend, here are some movies to remind you that odds are just a number.
1. “McFarland, USA”
This 2015 film tells the true story of a 1987 majority-Latino cross country team and their white coach that led them to a state championship victory. Jim White is fired from his job as football coach and teacher after a physical altercation with one of his players and moves his family to McFarland, California, for a fresh start.
After realizing how many of his new students are great runners, White creates a seven-person cross country team. The team and White learn from each other as White adapts to a new environment and the runners take on a new passion for running. “McFarland, USA” is a reminder of the importance of relying on your team.
The classic tale of the 1980 U.S. hockey team is one of the most motivational stories of all time. The seemingly impossible win over the invincible Russian team is the epitome of an underdog tale, with inspiring monologues from Kurt Russell as coach Herb Brooks along the way. Sports fans and movie fanatics alike will find a reason to love the story of the team that did what only they thought they could.
3. “Erin Brockovich”
Who said all underdog stories have to be about sports? The 2000 film starring Julia Roberts follows unemployed single mother of three Erin Brockovich. After becoming a legal assistant, she defies society’s expectations of what she can do after defeating a local power company accused of polluting a city’s water supply. Even more inspiring is that the story is based on a real woman of the same name.
There are a dozen brilliant movies about football out there, but “Pride” is a refreshing glimpse of a sport not everyone is familiar with — swimming. Jim Ellis, played by Terrence Howard, is working at a local recreation center when he meets a group of African-American kids playing basketball.
A former swimmer himself, Ellis helps the kids with their swimming skills and ends up establishing the city’s first all-African-American swim team, called P.D.R., standing for pride, determination and resilience. Not only do they become stars in the pool, but they also gain strength in light of poverty and prejudice as young African-Americans in the 1970s.
This story of a Depression-age racehorse makes “Seabiscuit” one of the most well-known racehorses of all time. The hot-tempered horse struggles to find a compatible jockey and is overlooked and underestimated in almost every race he competes in, and he causes a media ruckus in a time of sadness and hopelessness.
6. “Remember the Titans”
One of the most beloved sports movie of all time follows the football team of a newly integrated high school. There is tension between parents, players and coaches and a clear divide between the white and African-American players.
As the students learn more about each other and themselves, the players realize that they are much more alike than they are different. The team comes together as one to be victorious on the field, but win life-long friendships that extend far beyond any championship trophy.
South Carolina may be an underdog this weekend, but these movies are proof that everyone should still keep a close eye on the underdog.