Many have tried to claim the status of “Best Fictional Athlete of All Time.” Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez could play baseball so well that he not only dominated “The Sandlot,” but the major leagues as well. Happy Gilmore destroyed Shooter McGavin in the PGA Tour, proving that it was McGavin who ate pieces of s— for breakfast. Jesus Shuttlesworth balled so hard that he changed the fundamental structure of the criminal justice system. While these achievements seem legendary, they pale in comparison to the accomplishments of another sportsman, or rather sportsdog.
I am, of course, referring to Air Bud, the most underrated athlete of all time. His treatment has been ruff to say the least, as Air Bud doesn’t even appear on ESPN’s “Official Ranking” of the best fictional athletes, nor does the golden retriever even sniff the Bleacher Report’s Top 50.
Talking heads rattle off their arguments regarding Rocky Balboa or Ricky Bobby, but none of these so-called experts give Buddy the o-paw-tunity he deserves (if you think these dog puns are torturous, you ain’t seen nothing yet). To rectify such injustice, I want to make the case for why Buddy should not only be in the conversation about the greats of fictional sports, but why he should be the undisputed greatest of all time.
Furst and foremost, Air Bud’s legacy is more than just his play on the field. Buddy broke down barriers and paved the way for all of dogkind. For centuries, sports was considered to be a competition among humans — proving once and for all what people could achieve over their fellow humans. But Air Bud refused to let the confines of his mortal shell limit his capacity to achieve.
He played basketball, football, volleyball, soccer and baseball — never once letting anything prevent him from achieving his dreams. Air Bud brought his case before a panel of judges (referees) who, to quote the original “Air Bud,” found that “There is no rule that a dog can’t play basketball.” From that moment on, societal dogma was forever changed, ensuring equality among fur and flesh. Air Bud deserves the spawtlight.
Even if you don’t find the work Buddy has done to sufficiently warrant him a place on fictional Mount Rushmore, his athletic resume should speak for itself. If you’re only familiar with the original film then you would, of course, be unaware of the long list of Buddy’s accomplishments. After all, in “Air Bud” he only won a local middle school basketball championship. In the following films, however, Air Bud would accomplish more impressive feats, including making the roster of the Seattle Seahawks, scoring the winning penalty shot to take the Women’s World Cup and winning the World Series for the Angels after tagging out the last batter.
Most athletes aren’t lucky enough to succeed in even one sport, let alone every major sport (except for hockey — let’s be honest, a dog on ice skates just isn’t realistic). Buddy, however, transcended the game: rising above the limits imposed on traditional athletes to demonstrate true greatness. He had the sprinting speed of Usain Bolt, the dexterity of Magic Johnson and a coat so beautiful not even Tom Brady’s hair could compete. Air Bud was the greatest of all time, the undisputed G.O.A.T. — and no athlete fictional or otherwise comes close. Whether it was being the best wide out since Jerry Rice, or shooting penalties better than Megan Rapinoe, Buddy was dominant with every game he slobbered on.
How can such incredible feats be ignored? How can society push aside Air Bud and let his legacy fade from future pawsterity?
Time and time again, the Air Bud cinematic universe goes unacknowledged in the world of fictional sports analysis. While there may be some reason as to why Air Bud is forgotten, I believe the answer to why we ignore Air Bud is obvious. There is a strong bias against dogs in our society, and we should no longer stand (or sit) for such anthropocentric behavior. It is up to us as film watchers, citizens and humans to ensure that the good work these good dogs do is not ignored. If not for us, then for our dogs, who may hope to one day achieve success and recognition, only to be swatted down.
I realize such aspirations are far-fetched and that I may be barking up the wrong tree. But I believe that one day, Buddy will find his place in our fictional history books, and with him, the reminder that anything is pawsible.
This is a satirical article written purely for entertainment purposes.