MLB’s Field of Dreams Game was an unmitigated success. Kevin Costner doing the intro, the whole feeling of a game taking place in an Iowa cornfield — it was magical. Of course, it helped to have a walk-off homer to end the game that landed in the corn itself, making it the perfect romantic ending to the game.
This perfection got me thinking: We need more games like this. There’s room here to maintain the integrity of the sports we love, while also evoking the films and television that helped shape the sport in society. After giving it a lot of thought, here are some games I definitely want to see out of the other major leagues.
NFL: The Longest Yard Game
While the idea of seeing a team of NFL players compete against inmates is the type of anarchy I’m normally a fan of, it’s a little ridiculous — even for me. Instead we can take two iconic teams and find a prison to build a field in.
It would be the sports equivalent of Johnny Cash playing Folsom. A chance to give a one-in-a-lifetime event to those who are paying for their mistakes. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about the people who are imprisoned. A chance to talk about criminal justice reform, separating violent criminals, from those who made mistakes due to addiction and poverty, and hear their stories.
This is absolutely nothing the NFL would ever do. After all, the idea of playing the Super Bowl outside of a dome is considered too risky for the shield, but a guy can dream.
College football: The Odessa, Texas Bowl
The big issue with college football movies is that so many of them detail real stories — making it rough to transport them effectively. Having a Rudy-themed game is a total copout. So, let’s take it back a few years.
One of the greatest elements of the movie Friday Night Lights is the romanticism and importance of football, often to excess, in rural Texas. Players driving past oil derricks on the way to practice, the cult of personality surrounding kids. We can easily throw two college teams into a high school stadium with local ties, and evoke the feeling of rabid fandom barely contained inside rickety bleachers.
NBA: The White Men Can’t Jump Game
There are so many amazing examples to pull from here, but it’s White Men Can’t Jump that really introduced the world to street basketball. My idea here is that we’re not trying to completely evoke the film, but more a mood.
Held during All Star Weekend, we pick some NBA players willing to get down and dirty and send them to the Mecca of street ball: Rucker Park. The current NBA stars take on a group of street ball hustlers in a contest that would be 1,000 times more compelling than anything else we’ve seen in recent years.
It’s a way to bring basketball back to its roots on the blacktops of neighborhood courts. Give back to the community, letting people who would never get to see the sport’s biggest stars up close kick it in their neighborhood against people they know well. You know it would be amazing.
NHL: The Goon game
Hockey is never afraid of a good jersey swap, and to be fair, the league already has a pretty incredible gimmick game in the Stadium Series — but let’s take one game a year and play it in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The home team rock the sweaters of the Halifax Highlanders, the away don those of the St. John’s Shamrocks. Play all this in a small, sweaty, minor-league arena and it’s a recipe for magic.
English Premier League: The Ted Lasso Game
This is a bald-faced excuse to have a three-man booth of Nathan on the play-by-play, with Ted and Roy Kent offering color commentary. We don’t need to do much here, really. Just bathe the entire game in the majesty of TV’s greatest show, married with the beautiful game.