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Save Our Team

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The plot of nearly every sports movie ever. There is a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who all have weird idiosyncratic tendencies and no idea of how to work together. But then a magical, lifesaving coach (or sometimes a talented player) appears and teaches them the value of friendship, teamwork, and how to use their weird neuroses to win the Big Game. The Big Game is usually played against their rivals, the Opposing Sports Team —super-intelligent, rich, well-trained aristocrats who are 100 times better in every way. However, it doesn't actually matter if the misfits win or lose. If they win the championship, it is obviously great, but if they lose, they still learned the Power of Friendship or somesuch.

And, just in case, there ain't no rule against animals helping out.

See also Team Spirit. For the classroom version, see Save Our Students.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Captain Tsubasa: Doubly played straight in the introductory arc. With the arrivals of both Tsubasa and Roberto, in less than a month the Nankatsu team goes from the worst team in town, to being able to tie with Shutetsu, who are the current national champions.
  • Parodied in Excel♡Saga with idiotic coaches and a star pitcher who beans everyone.
  • Eyeshield 21:
    • It's this this at its core, but subverts a lot of the "wholesomeness" associated with this trope. The "magical coach" in this case is the trigger happy, scheming captain of the football team who puts them through merciless Training from Hell, most notably making them run from Houston, Texas to Las Vegas, Nevada WHILE pushing a truck (and shooting at them) in the course of a month. Three of the members were originally blackmailed into the team because the captain, Hiruma, beat them up, stripped them naked, and threatened to leak the picture.
    • On the surface their rivals, the Ojou White Knights, seem like the typical "privileged rich kids" opposing sports team, going to a private school with a prestigious football background where no expense is spared for the players (their training camps are in a friggin' castle in Germany that the school owns, for Pete's sake). On the other hand, they also show the stress of having to live up to such a reputation and that the White Knight's training is every bit as grueling as the Devilbats. Not to mention both teams have a great deal of friendship and respect for the other, despite being as different as can be.
    • Also parodied during Mizumachi's flashback to how he came to join the Kyoshin Poseidons. He was originally tricked into joining the swimming team by the captain telling Mizumachi the club would be shut down if they didn't win a swim meet.
    • The Devilbats Evil Counterpart, the Hakushuu Dinosaurs are a dark take on the trope. Team captain Marco improves the team all right—by letting Gaou off of his leash, turning Kisiragi into a Psycho Supporter, and advocating Unnecessary Roughness.
  • Rookies plays with this. The team originally doesn't even want to play baseball, and the "magical coach" Kawato doesn't even know that much about baseball.
  • The oneshot manga Portball! sees a girls' portball (which is a lot like basketball) team threatened with dissolution if they can't win an exhibition game against the boys' team. Long story short the entire team (such as it was - only three members, which isn't enough to actually field a regulation team) is expelled for various acts of indecency and/or violence committed during the game.
  • Giant Killing: Professional football/soccer team East Tokyo United is on the brink of folding, due to their incredibly poor performance, when their former star player returns from the United Kingdom to become their new manager, having already directed an amateur village team all the way to The FA Cup fourth round. The catch? Many ETU fans and players alike have still not forgiven him for leaving his old team to go abroad in the first place, blaming their current troubles on his departure.
  • Parodied in Full Metal Panic! Fumoffu's legendary rugby episode. Kaname is asked by the student council president to save the Jindai High rugby team, which is on a major losing streak because they're a bunch of tea-sipping wimps who are too timid to even shoo an insect out of the clubhouse. Sosuke plays the role of the life-saving coach, except that he puts the team through military-style Training from Hell while bellowing insults borrowed from Full Metal Jacket. This turns the team into a bunch of blood-thirsty psychopaths who do destroy the Opposing Sports Team so violently and completely that it turns them into Shell Shocked Veterans who never regain their former glory.

  • A League of Their Own
  • Angels in the Outfield
  • The Bad News Bears: While this is the basic premise, the movie avoids all the usual trappings. The coach is a disinterested drunk, the players still hate each other in the end, they only win because of a pair of ringers, and they lose the championship to the juggernaut Yankees.
  • Big Green
  • Blackbeard's Ghost: The track team of Godolphin college plain sucks, and Steve Walker (Dean Jones) is hired to try to fix that. He gets very mixed results but, ultimately, the ghost of Blackbeard (Peter Ustinov) uses his invisibility to sabotage the competition, allowing Godolphin win.
  • Cool Runnings
  • Grid Iron Gang
  • The film The Grizzlies depicts a youth lacrosse team that was set up to help combat an onslaught of youth suicide in the community of Kugluktuk, Nunavut. While the film itself does not strictly fit the trope, the students do learn to work together as a team.
  • Little Giants, though they didn't stay for the whole movie
  • The Mighty Ducks
  • Sunset Park
  • Remember the Titans
  • We Are Marshall: The most literal use of the trope, since it's about the aftermath of almost the entire team getting killed.
  • Major League (first and third movies; the second was a depiction of the season after a Save Our Team plot)
  • Ladybugs also has a sort of subversion: The company soccer team Rodney Dangerfield has been tasked to coach has already won last season's championship, but Rodney finds that the team members have been almost completely replaced (with just one holdover from last season).
  • DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story parodies this trope though still plays it mostly straight.
  • The Replacements (2000), except less teamwork and friendship and more cheap shots and balls.
  • Semi-Pro is about the Flint Tropics, a bad ABA team trying to win enough games and attract enough fans to be one of the four teams that goes to the NBA after the companies merge. The team's owner/power forward is the best promoter in the league, and the "magical coach" is a player - a former benchwarmer for the Boston Celtics with a championship ring. They do it, sort of: the Tropics get to fourth place, but don't go to the NBA because Flint is too small a market.
  • Glory Road
  • Major Payne, though it replaces sports with military games and the magical coach with the eponymous Ax-Crazy Drill Major Nasty.
  • In Crackerjack, Jack Simpson gets initially gets corralled into playing for the bowls club to make up the numbers or lose his membership and thus his car park. Jack becomes embroiled in the politics of the club and a struggle against a business man who wants to take over the club.

  • In a rare sci-fi version, Ender's Game, with Dragon Army. Particularly unusual because the protagonist was the coach.
  • Played more-or-less straight when Mr Nutt becomes the UU's football coach in Unseen Academicals.
  • Subverted in Avi's SOR Losers. A group of unathletic high school kids are turned into a soccer team and come together and support each other in their realization that...they do suck at sports and that's fine; they have other interests.
  • The Toilet Paper Tigers by Gordon Korman, which follows a summer baseball team for middle-school-aged kids. Though in this case, the coach is completely clueless about the game; it's his granddaughter who actually whips the team into shape. And she has to blackmail the team to do it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Another sci-fi variation is the opening episode of Star Trek: Voyager, complete with the Rousing Speech from Captain Janeway assuring her banged-up crew and the newly added ex-convicts that they will put aside their differences and that together they'll find a way home.
  • Glee. Despite being a show choir rather than a sports team, all the makings of this trope are in place.
  • The White Shadow lived and breathed this trope, with a white former NBA star taking a position as a basketball coach at an inner city, but racially mixed, school.

    Video Games 
  • Cooking Diary: The player character helps the town's truly pathetic football team train up and regain their respectability.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama:
    • In reference to Cool Runnings:
      Fry: "I remember. They came last at the Olympics and then retired to promote alcoholic beverages."
      Hermes: "A true inspiration for the children."
    • "A Leela of their Own" is partially a parody of Major League — the twist being that the down-and-out Mets aren't even trying to win games anymore, only hiring Leela as a publicity stunt to drive up attendance.
  • South Park parodied this trope in the episode "Stanley's Cup."
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle help turn Wossamotta U.'s football team from a near-bankrupt obscurity to the top team in the country with their "alley-oop" routine, which is normally employed with Bullwinkle giving Rocky a hurl into the air but in this case, Bullwinkle uses a football. Rocky is the center.

    Real Life 
  • ''Outcasts United'' by Warren St. John is the story of a bunch of refugees who ended up living in Clarkston, Georgia (a small suburb of Atlanta), which became a resettlement center for refugees from war zones in Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. These kids eventually start a soccer team, the Fugees, with the help of Luma Mufleh, an American educated Jordanian woman.

Alternative Title(s): Super Coach