Six sports movies that got their facts wrong

Athletic prowess, tension, atmosphere: Jack Whitehall's Sporting Nation may be bringing all this to you on the small screen this summer - but it's notoriously difficult to reproduce on the big screen.

While it might be possible to cut an actor some slack when they're trying to play a professional athlete at the top of their game, factual errors can be a bit more difficult to forgive. When die-hard fans who know their stats and can spot a fake a mile off are watching, inaccuracies can really spoil the story.

Here are six films that didn't quite get their sport facts right.

Creed (2015)

Forget the fight, the overcrowding would have done Michael B. Jordan in.

As world light heavyweight champion 'Pretty' Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew) walks into the stadium to face Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) in Ryan Coogler's boxing movie, the TV commentator claims that 100,000 are on their feet to welcome him. The scene was filmed at Goodison Park, the home of Everton FC, which has a seating capacity of 39,572. An excess of over 60,000 fans would never be allowed for health and safety reasons.

Cool Runnings (1993)

A heart-warming comedy it is, an entirely accurate representation of reality it is not.

There's a grain of truth in Jon Turteltaub's comedy, as Jamaica did compete in the four-man bobsleigh at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. But the quartet were soldiers, not failed sprinters. Furthermore, they weren't coached by a disgraced American gold medallist and weren't given the cold shoulder by their fellow competitors. Even the structure of the competition is wrong, as teams make four runs across two days not three on consecutive days. It's still good fun, though.

Chariots of Fire (1981)

The makers of this movie let the truth run away from them somewhat.

Hugh Hudson's athletics biopic might have won the Oscar for Best Picture, but it gets few medals for accuracy. Harold Abrahams never ran round Great Court at Trinity College, Cambridge while the clock was striking noon. Morever, there was no last-minute change of events when Scottish Christian Eric Liddell refused to run his 100m heat at the 1924 Olympics on a Sunday. The schedule had been published in advance and he had spent months training for the 400m.

Escape to Victory (1981)

Escape to victory also starred professional footballers.

John Huston's cult favourite is loosely based on the exploits of the Ukrainian team, FC Start. Despite it being a work of fiction, the makers might have checked up on the rules of football in the early 1940s. When the Allies No.4, Dutchman Pieter Van Beck (Co Prins), is carried off on a stretcher after a foul by a German player, he is replaced by Norwegian Gunnar Hilsson (Hallvar Thoresen). However, while there were some instances of substitutes in matches earlier, they were not officially introduced by Fifa until 1958.

A League of Their Own (1992)

Madonna got into the groove of a baseball player rather well.

According to one veteran of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (which ran from 1943-54), Penny Marshall's fond tribute was “30% truth and 70% Hollywood”. They got the overarm pitching wrong, as this wasn't permitted until 1948, and most games were played at night rather than during the daytime. What's more, the catch that Mae Mordabito (Madonna) takes in her cap wouldn't have been allowed, as you can only use a hand or glove.

Lagaan (2001)

Given the outs that should have been given, the sledging in this match would have surely been through the roof.

Ashutosh Gowarikar's cricketing epic was only the third Bollywood film to be nominated for an Oscar. But the voters clearly didn't realise it was riddled with inaccuracies. The match shown in the film between the villagers of Champaner and the British troops trying to impose an unpopular tax takes place in 1893 and includes six-ball overs and front-foot no balls, even though they weren't introduced until 1900 and 1962 respectively. Also, instead getting six runs by tipping the ball up and smashing it over the fence, Guran (Rajesh Vivek) should have been given out for hitting the ball twice.

Find out more about Jack Whitehall's Sporting Nation, including how to watch it on iPlayer, here.

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