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This unsporting life

Sports movies remain popular because they are about dreams and achievement-themes at the heart of narrative film-making. But Christopher Tookey regrets the death of sportsmanship

Every month seems to bring a couple of new sports films. The trouble is that sports movies nowadays do not have much to do with sportsmanship.

Sports films used to be about humble guys triumphing over the odds-movies such as The Winning Team (1952) in which Ronald Reagan starred as an epileptic telephone engineer turned baseball pitcher, or The Great John L. (1945), where boxer John L Sullivan conquered the demon drink with the help of his parish priest.

The last such film to find a mass audience was Rocky, but that was 20 years ago. Ever since the 1960s,…

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