Images of the Athletic Hero in Films
The range of contemporary heroes in sports films is as wide as that of real-life athletes, and like their real life counterparts, fictional athlete-heroes are inflected by several factors, including the sport they play. This chapter examines ways in which older and contemporary sports films create and sustain the idea of the hero. Films dating from the nineteen-sixties forward challenge the assumption however, creating an idea of a hero who fights the system as well as fighting for the system. The idealized space of the playing field functions within these films as the space of the hero, the area in which he performs acts of valor that carry benefits for others. Biographic films dealing with athletic heroes have displayed a strong tendency to idealize the subject. The films establish a relationship between heroism and the institution of athletics, especially at the professional level.