While watching the excellent film Breaking Away the other night, it dawned on me that while the fine state of Indiana might not be known for much aside from Amber Waves of Grain and the Indy 500, it is the setting for three of the all time great sports movies.
Breaking Away (1979), set in Bloomington, follows four high school boys who have just completed high school and are at a crossroads in their young lives. The main character is Dave, an avid cyclist who idolizes Italian bike racers with some hilarious consequences. Largely based on a true story, Dave and his three acquaintances decide to enter the Little 500, an annual bike race held at the University of Indiana. Against the odds, they win the race - of course they do - otherwise Hollywood would not have come knocking. A young Dennis Quaid and Daniel Stern are part of the cast.
Hoosiers (1986) tells the story of the Hickory High School basketball team that wins a state total in the 1950's. The script is loosely based on the 1954 state champion Milan High School, who with a tiny enrollment made an unprecedented run through the playoffs and defeated much larger schools along the way. The film has a solid cast, including Gene Hackman and Harry Dean Stanton.
Lastly is Rudy (1993), maybe the most famous of the trifecta. It follows the efforts of Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger to not only be the first of his steelworker family to go college but to play football as part of the bargain. And not just any old college, Rudy was obsessed with the venerable Notre Dame and his efforts to get accepted are the real story, although the fact he made the football team is pretty incredible.
So add three classic sports movies to the state that gave us bushels of corn, Larry Bird and David Letterman.