Going Where The AFI Won’t Go

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: June 28, 2008

CALIFORNIA — Earlier this month, the American Film Institute (AFI) released the top ten sports movies of all time. This is the first time in film history. However, there are blatant omissions in this list of movies.

Especially or specifically the absence of African Americans or Americans of color. The omission of females is also very notable. African American, Asian, Latino, or Caucasian this number is ZERO.

While America celebrates the nomination of the first African American (Barack Obama) for the president of the United States, some influential Americans are still viewing issues in black and white.

Anyone can compile a list of their favorite movies and the AFI could be such an example of one list. There is nothing wrong about this list of movies on the AFI’s selection list.

Everybody has their own taste, everybody has their own likes and dislikes, but there is a glaring earmark that is very noticeable in the AFI list. There is not one leading role by an African American or any person of color on this list below.

The main black characters in the AFI movie list are subjugated to the white leading role. As in the movie “Jerry Maguire”, Cuba Gooding Jr. is the sidekick of Tom Cruise.

The question remains did AFI choose these movies on purpose or was it just by chance. What was the criteria in the selection of these movies? Was it the ticket sales?

Here’s is the 2008 AFI All Time Sports List:

10. Jerry Maguire

9. National Velvet

8. Breaking Away

7. Caddyshack

6. The Hustler

5. Bull Durham

4. Hoosiers

3. Pride Of The Yankees

2. Rocky

1. Raging Bull

Listed below are some of the greatest sports movies of African American males, but there are many more that could be listed here. While researching this subject I found over 20-30 sports movies of African Americans which were omitted from this list.

One movie on the AFI list many African Americans walked out of right in the middle of the film. This film is about two aging boxers: one a white challenger and the other, a Black champion. The white challenger comes out of retirement to fight an epic15-round battle, and wins.

Yes, it could have happen and it has happen but this movie hero boxer became bigger then life. Americans made songs about him, they made five more movies about him, this year in 2008 there was another remake of this make-believe champion.

They even have a statue of this fictitious champion on the steps of City Hall in Philadelphia. Now mind you this city had a real Heavyweight Champion of the World named Joe Frazier and he does not have a monument or statue an

ywhere in the City of Philadelphia.

A very interesting phenomenon finding these movies. There are few African American female movies. With Black female athletes like Alice Coachman, Cheryl Miller, Laila Ali, Dawn Staley, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Cynthia Cooper, Florence Griffin-Joyner, Cheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Willye White, Dominique Dawes, Anita France, Teresa Edwards, Vonetta Flowers, Althea Gibson, Zina Garrison, The Williams Sisters, Robin Roberts, Wilma Rudolph, C Vivian Stringer, Lynette Woodward and Marion Jones.

These are 25 sports superstars in basketball, track, and boxing, who happen to be African American and female. So where are their stories? Where are their movies?

Where do younger African American females watch these great women of yesterday and of tomorrow? How can anyone have an opportunity to watch these superstars?

Come on Spike Lee, F. Gary Gray (no relation), Hughes Brothers, John Singleton, and Van Peebles Family. Also, I cannot forget sister Oprah Winfrey. Come on Black producers and directors!!

Let America see the African American Woman sports story, then they can be added to this great list of beautiful movies.

As the Black Eyed Peas stated in their No. 1 hit song “Lets Get It Started”. The list below displays the struggles of African American in sports history:

1. Remember The Titans

2. The Hurricane

3. Coach Carter

4. Requiem for a Heavyweight

5. Brian’s Song

6. The Great White Hope

7. Ali

8. The Joe Lewis Story

9. White Men Can’t Jump

10. Hoop Dreams

11. Pride

12. Glory Road

13. The Jackie Robinson Story

14. Murder Ball

15. The Roy Campanella Story

What is your favorite sports movie? Let America know.