I must have had too many cups of coffee when I agreed to take on a Cinematical Seven covering the hunks of sports films. (Erik had the easy job, picking the Hottest Sports Girls.) Trying to pick the studs is like having hundreds of 4-star, wonderful movies thrown on your desk and being asked to pick the 7 best. Yeah, right! No problem! To make the task easier, I decided to pick a range of sports, and never double up on one particular type. That cut out a whole slew of possibilities, and what I came up with is what you see below.
What have I learned from picking the Seven Sexy Sporting Studs from cinema? The best of the best (pun intended) were in the '80s and '90s. I also learned that you should never share the list with a friend beforehand -- they'll remind you who you're forgetting, and that's why you'll find one tie down below. Enjoy!
The Eight Men Out Team
The only thing I knew when I took on this assignment was that Eight Men Out was going to be featured. Bull Durham is great and all, but this is the baseball movie. It's John Sayles, and it has the best baseball team to ever make it on the screen. They might have let their morals loosen a little, but they still kept their looks. Foolishly, I tried to pick between John Cusack, Charlie Sheen, D.B. Sweeney, and David Strathairn. Forget that! I'm taking the easy way out. Cusack's Buck Weaver was super cute as a "future jailbird," Charlie was always tasty in those days, and it's beyond me why women weren't falling all over David Strathairn the minute he jumped into film with Return of the Secaucus Seven, or any of the bigger movies that were soon to come. And Sweeney was cute, too, in that dorky way.
C. Thomas Howell and Peter Horton in Side Out
Being my dad's daughter, in the early '90s I was a huge fan of both volleyball and C. Thomas Howell. Combining them both in Side Out was just great, even if the movie doesn't get a lot of love from the masses. As far as hunky men go, you can't get much better than the sun beating down on tanned, muscular men diving into the sand for volleyballs. The fact that Howell's Monroe was a law student with smarts, well, that just made the whole thing irresistible. Topping it off with real lookers and talent from the sport at the time -- my dear Randy Stoklos and Sinjin Smith -- made it all even better.
Jared Leto -- Prefontaine
While Jared Leto's stint as Steve Prefontaine might have been overshadowed by Billy Crudup's later portrayal (bah!), Prefontaine was both an example of hot running, and the opportunity to show the world that he was more than just Jordan Catalano. It is the story of a life cut short, and Jared pulled it off with class as well as tongue-wagging good looks. Should you consider underground fight clubs a sport as well, you might go for him in Fight Club, but that guy got ugly, so I'd stick with Pre.
Dennis Quaid -- Breaking Away
No, not The Rookie. You can't do better than great eye candy in a sporting Oscar winner. I'm sort of cheating here, since Quaid's character was a football star (and there's more pigskin yet to come), but since this is mainly a cycling movie, I'm leaving it. Why? I could say it's because the Super Bowl is only a few days away, but no. It's because of the swimming hole. Oh man, that swimming hole. There's never been a wonderfully fleshier swimming hole before or since.
Jean Claude Van Damme -- Kickboxer -vs- Eric Roberts -- Best of the Best
I was all set to gush about Van Damme's Kickboxer, and then my friend gently reminded me that I was forgetting my dear Eric. On the one hand, you have the muscley, scantily-clad man whose thighs could bend a Thighsizer. On the other hand, you have Eric Roberts, who was yummy in this film, and has a lot more acting talent. So really, which martial arts movie you pick depends on what you're in the mood for. Do you want Jean Claude's earnest revenge? Or, some gravelly-voiced hotness? Huge muscles that can't fit into shirts properly? Smaller, but still darned wonderful muscles? How about both?
Will Smith -- Ali
It's not surprising that many women love Will Smith. He's cute, talented, dedicated to his wife and family, and he looks to be pretty stable, which is very rare in the world of big-name celebrities. Of course, this makes Ali the perfect sporting choice for this list -- as a boxer, there's lots of toplessness and sweaty, glistening pecs. However, I have a confession to make. It should be obvious by now that I've got some unique tastes, and I really only included him so that I could mention the man I prefer -- Joe Morton. (He's a lawyer in the film, so I figure he doesn't count...) Readers, you can take Cassius, and I'll take Chauncey.
Craig Sheffer -- The Program
Last, but certainly not least, there's my football pick. The Program is far from the best movie, but it's got my favorite teen actor from the '80s, Craig Sheffer, and a little Omar Epps topping things off. (Or Larry Kubiac if you like the husky men.) Ah, Joe Kane. Sure, he's got some drinking problems, but he's a talented quarterback who is trying to do good rise above. And besides, he's in shape, and he's got those chiseled lips, thick hair, and serious bedroom eyes.
Now, my original list had 20-some men on it, so here are a few of my honorable mentions: Jimmy Tsai in Ping Pong Playa, Rob Lowe in Youngblood, Paul Newman in The Hustler, Tim Robbins/Kevin Costner in Bull Durham, Ryan Gosling in Remember the Titans, Warren Beatty in Heaven Can Wait, Paul Gross in Aspen Extreme, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries, Matthew McConaughey and Adrien Brody in Angels in the Outfield, Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Bend it Like Beckham, and last, but certainly not least, Richard Joseph Paul in Under the Boardwalk. Yes, I'm serious about the last one.