Opposing Sports Team
The villains of any sports series or movie. Mostly made up of Designated Villains and Villainy Free Villains, the Opposing Sports Team is the number one team before the main hero's eventual victory. They got to this point not because of Team Spirit, but because of either cheating or a grueling, soulless regimen that goes against whatever the Aesop of the show is. They almost always wear a uniform that is mostly black. These may be to sports what the "Stop Having Fun!" Guys are to video games; the types who play the game solely to win, and will resort to any means to do so.
In 1980s-and 1990s vintage sports movies, this team is the posse of bullying, snobbish, white private school rich kids, while the hero's team comprises ethnically diverse middle- to lower-class public schoolers. Watch for a dirty scheme to close the neighborhood rec center, and lots of northeastern-accented trash-talk.
If the competition is international, expect the Opposing Sports Team to be either Soviet (Red Commies trained from birth in athlete factories and pumped on steroids) or German (hyper-efficient, arrogant, and we'll never forgive them for the war). For bonus points, they could be East German, combining both.
- Kituragi Academy's boys' baseball team in Princess Nine. They aren't evil; there's only one playoff spot available, and both of Kituragi Academy's baseball teams want it.
- 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. 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 Hakushuu Dinosaurs are an interesting variant: they're led by a Manipulative Bastard, and their two key players are a Blood Knight and Juggernaut who enjoys crushing other teams and quarterbacks for kicks, and an In Love with Your Carnage Ambiguously Gay cornerback with a serious man-crush on said Blood Knight and a tendency towards dislocating recievers' arms. The team relies on breaking other teams' players instead of winning on talent, and they are often seen by other teams as unfair players. Yet they remain sympathetic, and their leader, Marco, is revealed to be an Affably Evil victim of Love Makes You Evil who is only doing what he is doing to try and impress his crush, the team's Cute Sports Club Manager. The trope is played very straight by the American Pentagram; on a team led by Clifford and Mr. Don, only Panther is remotely sympathetic.
- Renko's slate of Student Council candidates in episode 1 of Kujibiki Unbalance.
- 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 wel 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 subverts this trope with Garasyuama High rugby team: Their defeat comes as a result of a gruelling, soulless regimen inflicted on the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits by Sousuke. While presented in the usual unsympathetic light, they probably didn't deserve the excessive violence that resulted. Then again, it was a lot funnier that way.
- 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.
- Usually averted in Captain Tsubasa: The opposing team is almost always a sympathetic team of fair players, and when it's not, usually only a few of them are a threat... and those Can't Get Away with Nuthin'.
- 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 Heroic Sociopath 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, there's Team White Snow, who displays levels of cheating and douchebaggery that makes Team Sledge Mamma look like saints.
- 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.
- Majorly subverted in the Haruhi Suzumiya 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.
- 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.
- The Leader team from Michel Vaillant.
- The Blind Side: The visiting Lions; their defensive lineman deliberately kicks Michael when he's down and after the play has already ended.
- The sailboat race in the John Cusack-Demi Moore vehicle One Crazy Summer.
- In Shaolin Soccer, the opposing team is called Team Evil in some translations (the Devils in others). They train using soulless scientific methods and "American drugs," as opposed to the heroic Shaolin monks, who use their spiritual martial arts.
- All three The Mighty Ducks films. The teams is this trope to a T.
- 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.
- 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.
- Somewhat subverted in The Bad News Bears because the Yankees actually win and pretty much remain jerks.
- 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.
- In the Bollywood film Lagaan, a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits from an Indian village face off against a bunch of snooty British soldiers in a game of cricket.
- The Dragons basketball team in Teen Wolf.
- 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 East Germans in Cool Runnings.
- 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.
- 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 Jerkass in his brief screentime.
- The Slytherin quidditch team in Harry Potter.
- 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.
- In the original book Friday Night Lights, a true account of the 1988 Permian Panthers, a West Texas high school football team, the final opponent they meet in the playoffs is a very intimidating team from Dallas that was involved in an eligibility controversy that split across racial lines. Permian lost the game on the final play.
Live Action TV
- 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 Hot Amazon 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 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.
- 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.
- in Degrassi, Lakehurst starts out as this. It Got Worse.
- 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.
- Wario Ware 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.
- Parodied in one storyline in Least I Could Do. Rayne and Mick help coach an all-girl Little League team. At first they expect the girls to be the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who beat the Opposing Sports Team in the championship game, but it turns out that they're actually very good. Only when they make it to the final game and their opponents turn out to be a group of downtrodden orphans does Rayne realize that he and his girls are the Opposing Sports Team.
- For added humor, at one point Rayne reacts to the standard Glurge moment from the other team by looking up at the sky and saying "I don't care, we're playing to win." A near-miss from a Bolt of Divine Retribution convinces him to throw the game.
- 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)
- The other boys' team in Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown.
- 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.
- Perfecto Prep in the sports-based episodes of Tiny Toon Adventures.
- The Gammas from An Extremely Goofy Movie.
- `Meteor`` in the Russian ``Shaybu`` cartoon. They get a bit better by the time the football based sequel comes around.
- The Winter Olympics team of the Principality of Nessir, from the French series Pierre et Isa.
- Practically all teams that play against the Midway monsters in Mutant League, but especially the Slayors.
- The Really Rottens, in Laff a Lympics.
- 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.
- Spoofed with this College 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.