Eyeshield 21 features a few of these. The Amino Cyborgs are the "soulless regimen" type, while the Zokugaku Chameleons start out as the "filthy cheaters" type. The Hakushuu Dinosaurs would be considered cheaters in most other series, as their game revolves around injuring the opposition, but they're just looked down on as unfair and mean. Lastly, the Teikoku Alexanders have the anti-aesop thing going, since the rivalry inside the team is almost bigger than that against their opponents. The series also averts this, as many of the opposing teams are portrayed sympathetically, or as rivals. The series doesn't play down the fact that the Devil Bats are crushing many, many other players' dreams, either; In some games, the opposition comes off so well, you almost root for them.
Agon of the Shinryuuji Nagas fulfills this trope pretty much all by himself; he manages to drag an otherwise pleasant team down by being overtly villainous, cruel, and hateful.
The trope is played very straight by the American Pentagram; on a team led by Clifford and Mr. Don, only Panther is remotely sympathetic.
As a basketball manga, Harlem Beat is of course loaded with these.
There is a solid ton of these in the anime The Prince of Tennis, though most of the members of these teams are made just sympathetic enough to allow for mountains of Slash Fic. Special cases are Higa (whose coach is a Evil Teacher and are portrayed almost textbook Jerkasses at first) and Rikkaidai (tennis-playing Knight Templars... as well as a particularly strong set of True Companions leaded by an Ill Boy whom they genuinely care for)
These are ever-present in Major, but especially in the 3rd season, where defeating Kaido High is the motivation for almost everything the protagonist does. However, in a bit of a subversion, his team doesn't win.
Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu puts a spin on this with the Garasuyama High rugby team, who fit the mold for the most part. Their rivals at Jindai win not through determination and wits, but because Sosuke puts them through Training from Hell that changes them from weak-willed cowards into violent psychopaths. Garasuyama gets beaten (both in the athletic andphysical sense) so badly that they become a bunch of Shell Shocked Veterans who never reclaim their former glory.
Not to mention, when the Garasuyama team does the obligatory Evil Gloating and trash-talking, Kaname is so frustrated with her own team's wussiness that she actually agrees with Garasuyama and laughs along with their taunts.
Zoids: New Century has the Backdraft Group, an illegal organisation which subverts the "noble" sport of Zoids battles and forces the hero team into unsanctioned battles. Fortuntely, the Backdraft Group seems to be primarily made up of maldjusted screwups...
Averted in Hajime No Ippo, where the opponents usually are just as sympathetic and dignified as Ippo himself, and the anime does not shy away from spending at least one entire episodes to flesh out the character of Ippo's current opponent. Even dirty Mashiba is shown as an orphan who fights to give him and his little sister Kumi a decent life.
Mahou Sensei Negima! gives this treatment to a group of high school students during a dodgeball game early in the manga.
From IGPX Immortal Grand Prix, Teams Sledge Mama and Velshtein in the first season. Sledge Mama is made up of a bunch of violent thugs who aren't above cheating to get ahead. Team Velshtein, meanwhile, are the arrogant reigning champs whose coach treats them like soldiers. The second season introduces Team White Snow, who are even worse, cheating more often and more flagrantly, and being meaner and more arrogant.
Ookiku Furikabutte — For the first team, It's Personal between the entire team and the main character. For the next, between another main character and just one guy. They're both hyped-up enough to invoke Underdogs Never Lose for the protagonists, but only the first one kicks the dog. Overall the series is too nice to have evil opponents, though.
Subverted in the baseball story — the SOS Brigade enters a tournament and immediately gets paired against the reigning champions, who are actually perfectly decent fellows who've spent long hours practicing. The Brigade resorts to cheating in order to win the game, leaving the other team in tears at the degree to which they got pummeled. Yeah, that's right, Our Heroes are the Opposing Sports Team.
Played straight in the Day of Sagittarius III story, where the computer club fills the role.
Mostly averted in Cross Game, the exceptions being the teams coached by Shugo Daimon. Most other teams seem to be enjoying the game no matter how competitively they play. During the tournament, many players on opposing teams are smiling even as they lose because of the high level of play they witness. Daimon's teams, on the other hand, are stuffed with recruits who care nothing for the school they play for or even other members of their team, just winning and impressing professional scouts.
Averted most of the time in Future GPX Cyber Formula, as the racing teams are mostly sympathetic as the series progresses, while some (like Missing Link, at least in the first half of the TV series) did use cheating tactics like crashing racers' cars under the orders of Smith.
Kuromorimine (the protagonist's former team) and Pravda High Schools in Girls und Panzer, the former more than the latter. Kuromorimine is a German-themed school with black uniforms that emphasizes efficiency and winning atall costs, which is why Miho actually left it. Pravda, a Soviet-themed team, is much more laidback, and aside from their captain being a bit of a jerk,note was it really necessary to rub her last year defeat into Miho's face, Katyusha? is portrayed far more sympathetically. They are also apparently on a good terms with the very sportsmanlikeand proper St. Gloriana Academy, one of the most sympathetic opponents in the series. What they share, though, is that they're much better equipped and funded than the protagonists' team.
In Archie Comics, Riverdale plays almost exclusively against Central City, an entire city with a population of nothing but criminals, cheaters, and con artists, all of whom hate everything pertaining to Riverdale. The one time a Central player was portrayed sympathetically was when Archie and Chuck saved his life, while his friend abandoned him to die so he could win the race.
A common feature of 2000 AD "future sports" series.
For example, almost every team the Slayers go up against in The Mean Arena is either entirely this, or has a Jerkass star player who makes It's Personal part of the story. The notable exception is the Oxford Invaders who despite having had plastic surgery to look like alien monsters are sweet to children and honorable to a fault. (And enraged when the villain of the week makes it look like they're cheating.)
In Shaolin Soccer, the opposing team is called Team Evil in some translations (the Devils in others). They train using soulless scientific methods and "Americandrugs," as opposed to the heroic Shaolin monks, who use their spiritual martial arts.
The Sandlot: there's one bit where the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits playing for sheer fun on their run down field get teased by a group or kids who look like they just came off a prep school field, complete with matching uniforms. The misfit kids respond by giving the bullies a humiliating beating in baseball.
While the characters fit the trope to an absolute tee, their usage is a surprising aversion to the usual formula. Most movies are exclusively about beating these guys. In the Sandlot, they just spank 'em and move on—with nary an aesop learned.
Despite being in the title, the opposing team in Facing the Giants hardly had a role (save to be hyped as nearly unbeatable) before the climactic game; when they did, though, they turned out to be black-clad, unpleasant, clear-cut antagonists.
Their name is meaningful though. They had 85 players compared to the Eagles' thirty-or-so players.
The Globo Gym Purple Cobras in Dodgeball served this role: Assembled by the rich owner of Globo Gym solely for the purpose of defeating the group of poor misfits trying to save Average Joe's Gym via the Dodgeball Championship's $50,000 winner's prize.
If there's a baseball movie and the Yankees aren't the protagonists, you can put down your savings on them being the antagonists. This even extends to non-MLB movies, like The Bad News Bears.
Cobra Kai (naturally) from The Karate Kid are every bit the opposing team, down to the sadistic coach, imposing black uniforms, and sneering superiority. In the end they even resort to "SWEEP THE LEG!"
Slap Shot inverts it by having the protagonists be a down and out hockey team who suddenly hit the big time when they recruit three brothers who teach them the value of violent tactics deliberately designed to hurt the other team. This ends with them facing a team that's a conglomeration of all the most violent players their opponents can find, with no one making any attempt to play the game as they just try to kick each others' asses instead.
The trope is both played straight and subverted in Remember the Titans, the fictionalized account of the 1971 T.C. Williams High School football season. Due to the team's integrated racial makeup, the Titans face severe persecution from other (all-white) schools in the state, culminating in a semi-final matchup that sees the opposing coach call the Titans' black coach Herman Boone a "monkey" and the referees attempting to rig the game in favor of the Titans' all white opponents. In the final game, however, the trope is subverted. The Titans' final opponents, Marshall High School, show hardly any racial prejudice at all, and the team's coach accepts his defeat gracefully, even shaking Boone's hand at the end of the game.
The Swiss team as well, but both teams come to see the Jamaicans as worthy opponents in the end.
Subverted in Disney's Miracle about the U.S.'s shocking upset over the powerful Russian hockey team in the 1980 Olympic Games. Keeping with the more biopic-ish qualities of Disney's sports films in the 2000s, the Russians are simply presented as a powerhouse machine of a team, superior in skills and talent instead of the dirty tactics of the opposing squads of past sports films in Disney's repertoire. This is even acknowledged in-movie during Coach Brooks' halftime speech to the team at the Olympics.
Brooks: If we played them in ten games, they might win nine. But not tonight. Not this game. This is your time.
Kevin O'Shea's Cowboys in Little Giants, which goes a little more in depth into an opposing team than most. Basically, they don't think it's just a game, and the idea of having fun never enters into the equation. Coach O'Shea does, however, strongly disapprove of cheating, and nearly pulls a star player from the game after watching him intentionally injure an opponent.
In Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Sebulba "always wins" the pod-race by being a dirty cheater. Until the events of the movie, of course.
Though it's very hard to tell exactly what constitutes cheating, and it may well be that there are no rules at all besides the first (or only) one to complete three laps wins. A deleted scene has Watto telling Anakin that he might win once in a while if he was as dirty as everyone else.
The main opposing choir in Sister Act 2 doesn't really come across as bad, per se, so much as acting disturbingly like a homogeneous army. They are genuinely good singers, but it is loosely implied that there isn't really any spirit to it.
In boxing movies, the "team" is one guy, usually the champ or a challenger to the champ. He's almost always a complete tool.
The Rocky movies dabbled with the trope. While in the first two films, Apollo Creed is just a big-shot in an ivory tower, Rocky's later opponents turn villainous. Clubber Lang is a trash-talking, disrespectful thug, Ivan Drago is a soulless, heartless freak of science, and Tommy Gunn is a traitor. Only in Rocky Balboa does the franchise return to its roots with Mason Dixon, a nice enough guy who simply needs to be tested.
Cinderella Man did a Historical Villain Upgrade on Max Baer, who in real life was a nice guy. To make James Braddock more sympathetic, however, the film turned him into a monstrous prick who brags about killing a man in the ring. Baer's son (best known for playing Jethro in The Beverly Hillbillies) was very upset and tried to sue.
Million Dollar Baby plays it straight with Billie the evil German and former prostitute known for fighting dirty.
Real Steel has the snobby and overconfident duo behind the robot champion Zeus (a Russian manager and an Asian designer), since the bot itself is just a tool.
The Fighter pits Micky Ward against Shea Neary, who is depicted as an unsportsmanlike Jerk Ass in his brief screentime.
The Longest Yard is about a football game between a Texas prison's inmates and guards, and the guards' team is the bad one. They're sadistic bullies who harass and mistreat the prisoners on and off the field; most of the inmates are only playing for the chance to get revenge for all that.
Necessary Roughness: The Texas Colts are portrayed not as dirty (aside from a cheap shot on Lucy) but as a team of arrogant Jerk Jocks, led by Alpha Jock "Flat Top."
The Slytherin quidditch team in Harry Potter. It extends to the Quidditch World Cup too. The team Harry is supporting play fair while the opposing team use all manner of dirty tactics.
Refreshingly subverted with Cedric, Fleur, and Krum, who, whatever their flaws, are pretty decent people and end up having a cordial relationship with Harry. Fleur and Harry are actually in-laws by the end of the series.
Heavily subverted in Unseen Academicals. For one thing, Our Team is the upper-class university faculty, and the Opposing Sports Team (Ankh-Morpork United) are the scrappy and diverse working-class souls. For another, AMU, while somewhat antagonistic, and with a history of violent play (admittedly before there were any rules against violence) play fair ... with one exception, and after the match he gets walloped by his own captain for nearly ruining it for everyone.
The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Take Me Out to the Holosuite features this. What makes this instance of the trope so poigniant is that the opposing team is made up of Vulcans, who don't generally display emotion. While there was little in the way of Unnecessary Roughness in the game, the Vulcan Captain was obviously smug about his team's superiority.
In one Magnum, P.I. Robin Masters bet the estate on a softball game with another playboy after losing a card game. While the estate's team was composed of local amateurs, the Opposing Sports Team was composed of ringers. This was a subversion in that the underdog-with-a-lot of heart, team lost. But this was rectified when it was discovered that the original card game was crooked.
Vocal Adrenaline, the main rival glee club in Glee, are "souless automatons" who are technically proficient but lack any passion; they've got so much financial backing from boosters that all the students were given Range Rovers; and they like to egg their opponents for no real reason.
It wasn't always so, however. The first time anyone from New Directions spoke to a member of Vocal Adrenaline, she tearfully warned them to stay away from their sadistic choreographer.
Additionally, Sue Sylvester is now coaching another rival, Aural Intensity.
Defied by the Dalton Warblers, who despite being hilariously humourless and devoid of human personalities prep school boys are honourable and friendly opponents. It helps that they're about as ethnically diverse as New Directions, with an openly gay lead singer.
That is until the following season where their new (but still openly gay lead singer) throws a slushie spiked with rock salt at the old lead singer and nearly blinds him (he was actually aiming for his boyfriend) and then the season after where they take performance enhancement drugs
The West Wing has political versions of this. Robert Ritchie, Bartlet's opponent in season 4, at one point has Bartlet's team tricked to make them look bad. He and Bob Russel, Santos' opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination in season 6, are both portrayed as dirty campaigners and sleezy people while Bartlet and Santos are not.
Season 7 has interesting case, where Santos and Vinick face off for the presidency. Although Santos and his campaign are the closest to being the "heroes," Vinick and his people are very well characterized and sympathetic. Vinick repeatedly shows himself to be an honorable person and politician, sometimes even more honorable than Santos (Santos and Russell both take an ethanol pledge that they know is ridiculous, Vinick refuses).
Vinick also comes into possession, accidentally but legally, of Santos' briefcase. It includes various embarrassing documents (such as Santos' frustrations with his running mate), and particularly documents that appear as if Santos has had an extramarital affair— though Santos had a true and innocent explanation for it. Vinick's campaign manager tries hard to get Vinick to use the damaging info against Santos, but instead Vinick insists on returning the briefcase to Santos and using none of it. This shows how strongly the show was on the idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism. It is perhaps believable that a highly ethical politician would decide not to use his opponent's apparent affair against him (as part of his private life), but Santos' frustration with his running mate could not be considered part of his private life.
In Degrassi, Lakehurst starts out as this. It gets worse.
The original London version of the plot then plays it straight in act two by introducing a new Russian opponent described as "a disciplined, Soviet chess-playing machine."
Success Mode of MLB Power Pros 2008 pits your AAA team (the Golden Apples) against the Galaxy Sharks, the game's rough equivalent of the Yankees (with a ruthless general manager who fires anybody unable to play for more than a month). If you've been deemed good enough to play in the majors, your team will play against them for the league championship. Normally in this mode, you only get to control your created character, but during this game you're in charge of most of your team, essentially making this a Final Boss battle. Plus, a player named Sittch who used to be on your team, is their star player (and has hair like a Super Saiyan.)
The Success Mode of the 2007 version also had something similar, with the monsterous "Champion Rings" team. If you go up against them in Season 2, your best friend comments that nobody on the team stands out, since they're all ridiculously strong. In Season 3, they gain one or two new pitchers, in the form of Zero (a rookie in college ball with perfect skills in pitching and batting), and possibly Alvin (a former star member of your own team, a strong pitcher and hitter, who may wind up with the Rings depending on the route you take through Success Mode.)
In Final Fantasy X, you encounter some irritating blitzball players on the Luca Goers team; while very difficult in the forced blitzball game, they aren't actually that tough afterwards.
WarioWare Smooth Moves has Team Dinosaur as the opposing sports team to the one Mona is cheerleading for. The team is made up of the antagonists from the local Predatory Business.
In Mario Smash Footbal (aka Super Mario Strikers) the final battle of the last Super Cup is a match against Team Omega, robots based on Next-Level Games's mascot. They're the strongest team in the game, both due to their perfect stats and because they all act as captains, which means they can all use super shots.
The Los Angeles Legends in All-Pro Football 2K8. They have several more Gold players then you are allowed, which means they will nearly always run through the AI teams and meet you in the Championship game, where they can easily curbstomp you if you aren't ready.
Subverted in Inazuma Eleven with Teikoku Academy's soccer team. They start out giving this impression, but halfway through it turns out that all the actual villainy is committed by their "commander"/coach and some of his henchmen, all behind the backs of the actual players. The players themselves actually turn out to be perfectly nice people (if a bit intimidating due to their skill and military-grade discipline) and revolt when they find out about their coach. Their team captain Kidou even voluntarily offers to forfeit the match because of it, but Endou's not the type to take an easy victory on a technicality.
Mikage Sennou is called "Brainwashing Jr. High" in the English games and anime, in case subtlety isn't your thing. It's exactly what it sounds like — 'soulless regimen' is taken to a new level, as their players have little personality or emotion left after being brainwashed in an attempt to improve their skills. The team captain doesn't believe (or even understand) the idea of sports being fun. After being beaten by Raimon, they start to come around.
Subverted in GRID with Ravenwest, the player's biggest rival team. While they do possess many attributes common in a generic villain team (insane skill, dreaded reputation, all-black paint scheme, etc.), they don't cheat, drive especially aggressively, show any sort of hostility toward the player's team at any point during the story, or do much of anything to suggest they're anything other than a normal racing team. They're just really, really good at what they do.
And when the ragtag team's coach is visibly upset that they threw the game (confronting Rayne and Mick) because it robs them of the satisfaction of winning on legitimate grounds, Rayne's only response is to "validate" the victory by vandalizing the coach's car.
Coach: My players wanted to beat your team on their own merit, not out of sympathy. They wanted a real rivalry and you robbed them of that. I'm pretty sure they all knew it wasn't real- (Rayne smashes the coach's car window with a bat) Mick: They'll believe it now.
The Gas House Gorillas, a recurring team of dirty cigar-chomping baseball players from the Looney Tunes universe.
Hurricanes, an animated series about a team of American soccer players, had the Garkos Gorgons, the typical "cheating" team. Occasionally, however, The Hurricanes themeselves would exhibit the behavior of the Opposing Sports Team, and be defeated for it.
Disney Fairies: Pixie Hollow Games has the Lightning Fairies, who have won four Championship Rings over the past four games and are aiming for "One for the thumb!" Rumble plays the trope completely straight, while his partner Glimmer is a Spirited Competitor and Graceful Loser who doesn't realize at first just how determined her partner is to win.
One episode of King of the Hill revealed that the members of the high school football team that defeated Hank's team for the championship come around every year on the anniversary of the game and publicly humiliate every member of Hank's team — even Dale, who was just the towel boy. Getting sick of the taunting, Hank challenges them to a rematch and his team wins...at which point they do the exact same bragging.
Team Hostile Takeover Bank (Chick Hicks' sponsor) from Cars. Francesco from the sequel too, if only for his arrogance.
Clone High has an ongoing rivalry with Genetically Enhanced Superhuman High (GESH).
The MonStars in Space Jam, who can only win by stealing the power and talent of actual professional basketball players. Even having Michael Jordan as part of the good guys' squad was just barely an equalizer.
Spoofed with thisCollege Humor video. As it turns out, it's the same group playing in multiple sports, trying (and failing) to win against a werewolf pointguard, a field goal kicking horse, and a child in magic shoes. And finally, with a cry of, "We are done being made the fool! OOH-RAAAAAAAH!" the team turns rather...psychotic.