Bad News Hustlers: Sports in a Scene

Sporting moments can make for effective points in the narrative arc – both the highs and lows – and draw the audience in.

Bad News Hustlers: Sports in a Scene

Bad News Bears

But most often they don’t. The team scores. Everybody cheers. So what?

Bad News Hustlers: Sports in a Scene

The Natural

These moments are too grounded in winning; the immediacy is all that matters. Indeed, one of the weakest moments in my script, Sister Prometheus, is a game of badminton between the Adamantine sisters. Virginia and Willow are the younger siblings and have something to prove.

WILLOW serves the shuttlecock. VIRGINIA slams it back for a winner. WILLOW lobs to LOUISE who serves. DIANE volleys back. LOUISE volleys. Bad News Hustlers: Sports in a SceneWILLOW volleys. DIANE drops. WILLOW volleys. VIRGINIA volleys. WILLOW drops. DIANE volleys. LOUISE slams it for the winner.

Yes, it’s badminton; there’s lots of volleying. I’ve inserted the glares, exclamations, even a bit of profanity, but it’s still flat. And so I took them out again. It was too stuffed and pointless.

Bad News Hustlers: Sports in a Scene


The key in these sporting moments is in the stakes, as the script gurus say, making the winning proposition more than a game. Something real.

Bad News Hustlers: Sports in a Scene

The Hustler

It’s not the game that matters, but why they’re playing it.

VIRGINIA (Slumping over the shuttlecock): Fucking birdie.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.