By: Jason Sarney
Pre-Apologies. We all miss football, and after some Twitter inspiration and recent memories resurfacing of Ace Ventura, I felt the need to deviate from the serious, and have some needed fun.
It is said that all athletes want to be actors, and all actors want to be athletes. In a similar mindset, all people who cover both forms of entertainment simply want to be both. That’s where fantasy sports come in.
February is usually the month, post-football and pre-baseball, where college basketball becomes superior to all.
With a pandemic canceling last year's March Madness, this year's college tournament will be (Lord-willing) viewed by tens of millions of people, many of whom watch and like movies.
Recent Tweeted conversations have led me to think about numerous cinematic performances in the world of “sports movies” that a certain type of actor or actress simply nails.
March Madness is a little over a month away, so I’ve decided to pass the time by blending the cinematic world and the athletic world into a bracket-style basketball tournament and give you the official, unofficial:
Movie Madness Actors in Sports and Sports in Actors Tourney
New York Region - Hollywood Region - Philly Region - Overseas Region
Throughout the world of cinema there have been Oscar-winning movies and actors in the world of sports. This tournament will be comprised of the 32 individuals who encapsulate the art of cinematic sports acting, and gave us some of the most memorable fake athletes or sports personas in film history.
Some of these individuals may have been behind the scenes sports figures, coaches, managers, front-office executives, or what have you. If an actor is on this list, they are unequivocally one of the greats in the genre of sports movie acting.
We will be separating 32 participants the regions into four regions.
The thespians were able to punch their tickets via multiple classic sports roles or even a singular Oscar victory in a sports movie, regardless of being the athlete themselves.
Seeding is a mixture of overall body of work as well as strength of film….as it should be.
We will start with the New York Region.
The #1 seed was awarded to Robert De Niro, following an Oscar victory portraying boxing legend Jake LaMotta. You can also list Grudge Match and Silver Linings Playbook to his credit. Mastering the troubled boxer and gaining 60 pounds for the role, De Niro cemented himself in cinema.
He was able to sneak past legendary sports sidekick, and former Sandlot fictitious heavy-hitter to rival only Babe Ruth, James Earl Jones. #8 seed Earl Jones is the voice of baseball, thanks to Field of Dreams, and he also was in a Tae Kwon Do film called Best of the Best. Forget Best of the Best; Earl Jones’s baseball monologue was the possibly the best in the history of baseball movies ever.
The #2 versus #7 matchup is perhaps the most intriguing first-round affair, with lifelong collaborators #2 Wesley Snipes and #7 Woody Harrelson going 1-on-1, much like their days of White Men Can't Jump and even further to that of Wildcats.
Snipes, playing angry after memories of Billy Hoyle upstaging him after pulling off an alley-oop dunk, gets his revenge and it's not a contest. Harrelson looked sluggish all game, and there were rumors of performance downing substances throughout the game.
Friends in film and life, #3 Mark Wahlberg and #6 Matt Damon square off in a battle of brain against brawn. Wahlberg specializes in roles where he likes to hit things, notably people in Invincible as a Philadelphia Eagle, and as a boxer in The Fighter, or as a failed basketball prodigy turned drug addict in Basketball Diaries.
Damon mastered the role of poker-player Mike McDermott (it’s a sport) and he also coached Christian Bale to a should-have-been overall victory at Le Mans in Ford V. Ferrari. Damon’s portrayal as Carroll Shelby was effortless; unfortunately, so was his fake performance against Wahlberg on the fake court.
The #4 Ralph Macchio versus #5 Billy Zabka contest is prime-time television, as the karate rivalry is akin to a Duke-UNC face-off in a do-or-die rematch from four decades ago. This has been the battle on a national stage that Zabka has been waiting for, and he beat Macchio at the buzzer in an absolute thriller. The two came to blows several times, and officials needed to intervene on many occasions. Zabka was elated after the game, and Macchio walked off the court prior to a handshake.
NEXT UP: The Hollywood Region
Check back for the rest of the bracket shortly...........