I take a different television viewing path as high school sports draws to a close, and the NBA finals roll through the first half of June.

I’ll watch snippets of baseball, some replayed NFL football games on the NFL Network, and some Southern Hemisphere Rugby wherever I can find it.

This takes care of my sports fix until the NFL exhibition and high school football seasons launch.

I’ll also spend plenty of rainy weather time (we rarely seem to have a shortage of this in the area) binge watching sports movies and TV series.

Here are my favorite sports movies in case you’re interested in some rainy summer viewing:

Hoosiers is clearly my favorite sports movie. It became my favorite when I saw it in early 1987 while I was stationed at an Air Force base in Upstate New York.

It’s a great story, it will transcend time, and the producers and director were diligent in their effort to put together a basketball movie with people who really played basketball.

There is nothing worse than watching movies where actors obviously have no sports chops. “61*”, an HBO movie produced by Billy Crystal, is a great example of actors with glaringly poor athletic skills in a specific sport. Thomas Jane, the actor who played Mickey Mantle, couldn’t even fake baserunning let alone fielding and hitting.

Hoosiers, on the other hand – I feel like I’m preaching to the choir because one of the actors is Dr. Steve Hollar, an excellent basketball player most people around here know – auditioned players for skill first. Some performers, like Hollar, obviously handled lines as well as they handled the action.

If you have ever tracked how well Jimmy Chitwood, Hickory’s (at first) reluctant superstar, shot in the team’s run, he was pretty close to 70% in the action the editors didn’t let drop to the cutting floor. The players were not only talented, but they executed the correct basketball technique (e.g., set shots, formations, general physicality) for the decade (the early 1950s).

I had a hunch the actor who played Ollie was likely a far better basketball player than his character in the film. If you’ve heard actors sing poorly in character when the role calls for bad singing, this type of intentional imperfection requires a profoundly good singer to pull it off. The same can be said for the athletes, Ollie in particular.

My hat also goes off to Gene Hackman, who was convincing as a coach in his physicality and mannerisms although the minimum five-pass offense was a little hokey.

A League of Their Own, with a great cast including Tom Hanks, David Strathearn, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Megan Cavanaugh, and Lori Petty is another movie I’ll watch on a rainy day. Jon Lovitz plays a fast-talking, sarcastic baseball scout and knocks his role out of the park in less than 12 minutes total screen time.

Happy 30th anniversary to the cast and crew of A League of Their Own, by the way.

Penny Marshall, the film’s director, also made sure she saw enough of her actors in action to cast them into the right positions. It’s noted Madonna was moved to center field because Marshall wasn’t confident in her ability to manage grounders at shortstop.

It’s a great movie about sibling rivalry (Geena Davis, her character Dottie calling for the high heat when her sister traded to another team approaches the plate), and I still wonder if Davis’s character intentionally dropped the ball in the ending collision at home plate. Tom Hanks also showed the evolution of his huge acting chops one year prior to earning two Oscars for Best Actor (1994, 1995). Hanks was the only actor aside from Spencer Tracy to accomplish the feat.

I especially loved Hanks’s character Jimmy Dugan talking to Davis’s Dottie, who lamented about how hard pro baseball was in a convincing rejoinder he had for Dottie, something to this day any good coach would say to an athlete one-on-one or among the entire locker room of ballplayers.

There is no other golf movie for me but Caddyshack. Even the Farrelly brothers know better than to make a comedic golf movie. When they were asked if they would do a golf movie, they said in so many words Caddyshack is the consummate golf movie.

Remember The Titans is one of my favorite football movies in terms of athletic quality among the actors playing football throughout the movie. I’ve told my son, now and then, to watch football movies and see how badly the people charged with casting the athletes could use actors, particularly extras, who can execute action like… real football players.

Finally, Winning Time, the HBO limited series about the Showtime L.A. Lakers of the 1980s, is a very entertaining watch. If you can stream this series (HBO, HBO max), be advised Adam McKay takes big liberties with facts. Don’t let the compulsion to challenge the facts cloud how entertaining the show is. I can’t blame Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for being upset about how they were portrayed. However, the actors in those respective roles performed very well.

I enjoyed the series in its first run because I remember the 1979-1980 NBA season, and the immediate impact of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird on the start of the NBA’s more favorable trajectory.

Be advised, the show’s episodes are heavily R-rated (if not TV-MA), and it has material not suited for the kinder.