Proper Soccer Movies Needed
By Simon Allen
I love the 1980's.
I was very young kid in the eighties and I can say (and there's room for argument here!) that the 80's was the best decade for everything. The music, fashion and TV of the 80's was brilliant!
The one thing that wasn't all that good in the eighties was soccer both here in America and in England. As a kid I called both sides of the Atlantic home so at one moment I was watching my Liverpool beat everyone and the next moment I was trying to see if there was any soccer on TV in Los Angeles. Basking in LA's sun I would get soccer withdrawals and would try to satisfy my cravings in anyway I could by watching Mexican TV or reading about the LA Lazers. Soccer was virtually non-existent in America in the mid eighties...especially for a kid.
Also trying to find 20 kids to kick the ball around was just never going to happen. Thanks to the old NASL, soccer had the same reputation as Disco.
Now in the eighties two sports emerged and got huge because of two movies. Both came out in 1986 and both had Tom Cruise as the star. The first was Top Gun and because of one scene in this movie everyone in LA started going to the beach and playing volleyball. At least that's how I remember it. People looked at "Maverick" jumping around in the sand playing volleyball with a Kenny Loggins soundtrack blasting behind him and immediately flooded the Big 5 to buy a volleyball and an OP tee shirt. Millions of volleyball fans were made because of that one scene in Top Gun.1986 was a pivotal year for volleyball according to a survey done by Sports Management Institute, University of Northern Colorado in 2007. The participation numbers starting going up that year. Also in 1986 the Women's Professional Volleyball Association (WPVA) was formed. The next year, FIVB, volleyball's equivalent of FIFA, added a Beach Volleyball World Championship to the series of sanctioned events.
The other movie was The Color Of Money. Ask anyone in the billiards industry and they will tell you that this movie got more people playing pool more than anything else in the sport's history. How can I forget the scene where "Vincent" is playing pool while Warren Zevon's “Werewolves of London” is playing on the jukebox. I spent (too) many hours in pool halls myself and Werewolf of London became my nickname for a second and yes! my hair was perfect. This movie got the Japanese buying Murray pool tables and kids in Omaha lusting over Balabushka pool cues. This movie gave Billiards a legitimate light and much like Volleyball, Pro Tours were created, ESPN gave them unprecedented amounts of coverage and the prize money became ridiculously high.
A couple of movies got two relatively niche sports into America's mainstream. Something that No movie has done for Soccer. Even though the beautiful game in America is truly here to stay, a proper soccer movie that gets kids and adults alike really excited about the sport is truly needed.
There have been a lot of decent soccer movies made but none have boiled the blood up enough to get people mad about soccer. Perhaps the reason behind that is that most actors can't really play soccer well enough and that no amount of CGI can help them.
Some people say that movies can't come close to portraying the passion of the beautiful game. I believe that ! Nothing is more exciting than going to a proper football match. It can't be duplicated on celluloid. But it's worth a try! “Playing for Keeps” with Gerard Butler comes out December 7th. The movie is about a former soccer star who coaches his son's team- Hilarity ensures. I'm probably not going to watch it.
So maybe Tom Cruise needs to do a soccer movie and sexy the game up a bit like he did with pool and volleyball. Have a few scenes in the movie where he's playing with David Beckham and there's a killer soundtrack behind them. If Hollywood can make a Soccer Movie that will completely wow an audience enough for them to head to Home Depot Center, Columbus Crew Stadium or Toyota Park then the folks in those stadiums and the beautiful game will do the rest.
What's your favorite soccer movie?