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Great Sports Betting Movies: Wildcats (1986)

Goldie Hawn in a football pile up

It’s the sport of kings. Better than diamond rings. Football. Football. 

Perhaps no truer words have ever been spoken on the silver screen. Whether discussing broadcast television ratings, online clicks, in-person attendance, or the action laid at sportsbooks, football reigns supreme in the United States.

Where football does not hold top honors is in Hollywood. Sure, there have been some quality football films in the past (The Longest Yard, Rudy, Remember The Titans, Brian’s Song), but none that stand alongside epics like Rocky and Hoosiers.

Wildcats (1986) is a worthy mid-80s gem that is often overlooked, much like the lead character of coach Molly McGrath, played by Goldie Hawn. When a varsity football head coaching opportunity becomes available at the most crime-ridden high school in town, McGrath leaves her posh P.E. teacher position to take the job.

What follows is a series of comedic scenarios as coach McGrath struggles to earn the respect of her tough, inner-city players and also prove to her peers that she is up to the challenge.

This film marks the first pairing of Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson, a duo that would go on to star in one of the all-time great sports betting movies, White Men Can’t Jump (1989). LL Cool J also makes a cameo.

How Does Wildcats Involve Sports Betting?

Tab Thacker plays the character of Finch. He is a tall, massive wall of humanity who would be a dominant offensive lineman at the high school level, but he is more focused on his illegal bookie operation.

Finch appears on coach McGrath’s radar after he inadvertantly causes one of her starting lineman to sustain a concussion due to a wager.

Jsu Garcia (known as Nick Corri at the time) plays Cerulo, a hothead who likes to headbutt lockers and brag about the size of the dent that was made. When Cerulo announces his intentions to headbutt a locker to impress his girlfriend, Finch warns that the smaller door size could cause serious damage to his skull.

Cerulo balks and offers Finch a bet of $5, which he accepts. This is a winner-take-all wager, so there is no need to know how to calculate odds to understand the mechanics involved. The bet is based on the following stakes.

Finch will win the bet if Cerulo fails to make a dent in the locker and suffers a concussion. Cerulo will win the bet if he dents the locker with his head and comes out unscathed.

It turns out that Finch was correct. When he celebrates his win, McGrath demands that Finch replace Cerulo on the team.

Director Michael Richie’s filmography includes many above-board entries in the sports genre. These films include The Bad News Bears (1976), Semi-Tough (1977), a movie about boxing betting – Diggstown (1992), and The Scout (1994).

Wildcats IMDB Page

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