10. The Big Green (1993, PG)1 of 11
How do you get an inattentive class of underachievers to listen to you? Take them out for a game of soccer. In a way, this movie oddly mixes Dangerous Minds, Mary Poppins and Kicking & Screaming, but has a great time in the process. Teacher Miss Ana arrives in Texas after teaching in a foreign exchange program in England. In an effort to boost the spirits of the local student, Miss Ana decides to put a soccer team together. It's again a crew of misfits defeating the perennial soccer powers of an upper-class part of town, and the characters keep you smiling.
9. 3 Ninjas (1992, PG)2 of 11
Trained by their Japanese grandfather in the art of Ninjutsu, three brothers, Rocky, Colt and Tum Tum, use their newly found ninja skills to take on a crime ring and defeat a few incompetent kidnappers in hilarious fashion. The three surfer dude goons will have anyone at any age in stitches, and the fight scenes are wonderfully inventive.
8. Air Bud3 of 11
This movie poses and answers the most pressing question of the 21st century: Can dogs play basketball? The answer is a resounding yes! Josh, who recently lost his father, moves in to town and meets a homeless dog he names Buddy. The golden retriever ends up helping Josh gain the confidence he needs to try out for his middle school basketball team. Spoiler alert: Buddy plays basketball, too.
7. Rookie of the Year (1993, PG)4 of 11
This movie serves as an amazing allegory for the Cubs franchise. How bad are the Cubs? Bad enough to sign 12-year-old Henry fresh off a broken arm as their starting pitcher. Henry breaks his arm after trying to catch a fly ball, but once the cast is removed, Henry is able to pitch with incredible, unrealistic strength. Rookie of the Year gives hope to every kid in a cast that his or her limb will magically gain super-human strength—not a bad way to get your broken-armed kid out of his or her slump. It's a fun movie with a great cast of characters, including Daniel Stern as an eccentric pitching coach and Gary Busey as an aging pitcher.
6. Space Jam (1996, PG)5 of 11
The sole movie on this list with no child actors, this film features one of the greatest athletes of all time and a famous animated bunny. Enslaved by vertically challenged aliens, the animated characters of the Looney Tunes world enlist the help of Michael Jordan to combat their kidnappers via a basketball game. Unfortunately, the pocket-sized aliens abduct the basketball talents of Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing to make for an amazingly bizarre basketball game finale. And a cameo by Bill Murray will keep parents smiling.
5. Angels in the Outfield (1994, PG)6 of 11
Filled with 1990s icons and some of today's famous actors, Angels in the Outfield features a child in foster care, Roger (a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who loves the Anaheim Angels, the worst team in the league. After his estranged father says he will reunite his family when the Angels win the championship, Roger calls on help from an angel (Christopher Lloyd) to help the Angels win the pennant. The Angels, coached by the ornery, ever-animated Danny Glover, start to win thanks to help from above. It's a sweet, tear-jerky flick with some laughs thrown in for good measure.
4. Bad News Bears (1976, PG)7 of 11
Walter Matthau is in full-blown Oscar Madison mode in this comedy. It's the most "PG-13" of the films on the list (there is some language, and Matthau gives children beer at the end of a game) but is still kid-appropriate. A down-and-out ex-baseball player coaches a team sponsored by a bail bondsman. Later, Matthau enlists the help of a local troublemaker (Jackie Earle Haley) to take this team to the championship game of an ultra-competitive little league.
3. The Mighty Ducks (1992, PG)8 of 11
The lone hockey movie on the list, The Mighty Ducks was created as a trilogy of films that got progressively worse. But the original remains a classic. Arrogant lawyer Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) gets sentenced to coaching a hockey team for community service. The players don't want to play hockey and Bombay doesn't want to coach them. This movie is a great underdog tale with plenty of jokes to keep the kids happy and some great hockey sequences to keep the parents awake. They'll be chanting "quack, quack, quack" before the movie is through.
2. Little Giants (1994, PG)9 of 11
Easily the most quotable of the lot, ("That's it, I'm leaving the country. I'm moving to New Mexico") Little Giants is the ultimate flick for those who were not athletically gifted as kids but always gave it their best. This movie stars Rick Moranis and Ed O'Neil as rival brothers/coaches Danny and Kevin O'Shea. Danny, who has always lived in his brother's shadow because he was a former college football star, takes his Little Giants, a ragtag team of hodgepodge personalities, against the popular, merciless Cowboys. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll wonder whether the Annexation of Puerto Rico is a legal football play.
1. The Sandlot (1993, PG)10 of 11
The greatest children's sports movie, according to our panel of 20-somethings, features Scotty Smalls, a new kid in town who finds friendship one summer in a group of oddball youngsters who regularly play baseball in a dirt field. Some memorable lines like, "You play baseball like a girl!" an urban legend about a man-eating dog and a heart-pounding chase sequence during the film's climax make this a greatest kids sports movie.