Vice President Mike Pence thinks “Hoosiers” is the best sports movie ever — an assertion many would contest. But, alas, he still forced an entire plane of journalists to watch the 1986 film.
While aboard Air Force 2 en route to Australia from Indonesia on Friday, the VP’s press secretary told the plane that Pence specifically requested they “would all be required to watch” the movie, according to the pool report of Pence’s travels.
Aboard Pence's AF2 to Australia tonight, watching "Hoosiers," at the request of the VP, was pretty unavoidable with the screens overhead. pic.twitter.com/i4i46uyGXE
— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) April 21, 2017
Pence apparently also said that he believes “Hoosiers” is the “greatest sports movie ever made.” Let’s outline why that might not be the case, Mike.
For one, the film is about a team of white basketball players who beat an all-black team. Yes, we know the film is about underdogs! It’s a “Cinderella” story! It’s based on history! However, Milan High’s 1954 underdog story paled in comparison to the one that came right after.
Crispus Attucks High of Indianapolis won two straight titles after Milan and brought about Basketball Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson. The Attucks Tigers were bigger underdogs than Milan and were the first all-black high school team anywhere to win such a title — in a country where Brown v. Board of Education had been decided just a year prior.
“Hoosiers” was a fine enough story of overcoming all odds and, yes, Gene Hackman is a gem, but there are racial implications of the story being told that cannot go unnoticed.
Another reason “Hoosiers” isn’t the “greatest sports movie ever made” is because, well, we’ll let these people tell you:
in light of Pence saying Hoosiers is #1 sports movie, here's real top 5
1 Bull Durham
2 Hoop Dreams
5 Field of Dreams
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) April 21, 2017
I’ve got the homecoming game from “School Daze” ahead of “Hoosiers,” if you’re wondering.
— Joel D. Anderson (@byjoelanderson) April 21, 2017
Mike Pence said Hoosiers is the # 1 sports movie, heres the actual list
1. Space Jam
2. Space Jam
3. Space Jam
4. Space Jam
5. Space Jam
— Michael (@Almostatimelord) April 21, 2017
Hoosiers is pretty fantastic, but I just think Breaking Away a better and more surprising film. Rocky also amazing. VISION QUEST UNDERRATED
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 21, 2017
Also, as per Deadspin, isn’t “Hoosiers” a movie that “virtuous white men from Indiana are supposed to like”? Yes. The answer is yes.
Perhaps the best thing to come out of this dustup is that “Hoosiers” director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo both weighed in. In a combined statement, they said they hoped Pence would “talk to his about the most important thematic through line in the movie,” noting that “nothing can be accomplished without working together for the same goal.”
Hoosiers director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo emailed me this comment on VP Pence screening their movie: pic.twitter.com/Tc0zZCq6wq
— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) April 21, 2017
What a time to be alive.