Peterson: Don’t trust movies for the truth

If you’re looking for the facts, and nothing but the facts, don’t look to sports movies for it.

It’s a fact that Hollywood will do whatever it has to do to embellish a story.

The movies “Rudy” and “Hoosiers” — two of the most popular sports flicks ever made — illustrate that.

Rudy was the low budget film about an undersized Notre Dame football fan who made his dream of playing for the Irish a reality through persistence.

Rudy Ruettiger, who appeared at Baraga High School as a motivational speaker a few years ago, was small (5-6, 165 pounds).

But he starred in the sport at Joliet (Ill.) High School. He was able to gain a spot on the Notre Dame practice squad.

And through his never-say-die spirit, he did get a promise from then coach Ara Parseghian to dress for one game as a senior.

But the part of the movie dealing with ND coach Dan Devine not honoring that promise was totally false.

Devine was aware of the promise and put him on the active list for the game.

And it also wasn’t accurate that his teammates went to Devine and offer their spot on the roster so that Rudy could play.

The fact is that he did get in for two plays against Georgia Tech and that he did register a sack.

As far as Hoosiers, the name Hickory High was mostly fiction.  And Hickory coach Norman Dale was patterned after Bobby Knight.

The 1954 Milan team, which the movie was patterned after, won the state championship over a much bigger school.

The star of the Hickory Huskers was Jimmy Chitwood, a modest sharpshooter who never seemed to miss a shot in the movie.

Maris Valainis played the role of Chitwood after being cut four times from his high school teams.

And the last man on the team, Ollie, was a pretty good cager who was on the varsity at a local school in Indiana at the time when the film was produced.

It was all good viewing, however. Gene Hackman, as coach Dale, played his role to the hilt. And the late Dennis Hopper did a terrific job as Shooter, a town drunk who was also a basketball fanatic.

Hackman and Hopper both earned Academy Award nominations for their work in the movie.

Of course, there are other sports flicks that stayed true to the script. “Miracle,” about the U.S. hockey team’s gold medal win at the 1980 Winter Olympics, was pretty much right on.

And I believe that George Gipp, All-American, was also fairly accurate, although Ronald Reagan later got a ton of publicity for playing the “Gipper.”


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