A director with a sure hand for underdog sports dramas, Emmy-winning producer/director David Anspaugh cut his teeth on 16 mm sports films during his years at the University of Indiana. Following his stint there, the Decatur, IN, native studied film at U.S.C.'s School of Film and Television. He worked as a high school teacher in Colorado in the years that followed, but the lure of a career behind the camera proved too strong to resist, and the aspiring director soon made a change. Anspaugh worked as an associate producer on such made-for-TV movies as Vampire (1979) and Fighting Back (1980), which led to work on the acclaimed television police drama Hill Street Blues. Before he left the series in 1985, Anspaugh had both taken the director's chair and won two Emmys for his work as a producer. Growing more confident behind the camera, he directed episodes of St. Elsewhere and Miami Vice, and made his feature debut with the touching sports drama Hoosiers. The memorable tale of an Indiana high school basketball team that becomes an unlikely contender for the state championship, the film put Anspaugh on the map as a director and earned star Dennis Hopper both Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor.
His interest in true-life tales next led Anspaugh to helm the made-for-TV drama Deadly Care (1987), and though subsequent films Fresh Horses (1988) and In the Company of Darkness (1992) did little to further his career, the sentimental drama Rudy (1994) once again warmed the hearts of audiences with the tale of a diminutive football player who wants to play for Notre Dame. The subsequent female drama Moonlight and Valentino (1995) provided a momentary break from the testosterone-laden content that had nearly defined Anspaugh's career to that point, but the low-key weeper failed to make much of an impression at the box office and eventually found most of its audience on home video. In the years that followed, the director stuck mainly to the small screen, and by the time Wisegirls was released in 2002, audiences had already had their fill of star Mariah Carey with the abysmal Glitter the previous year. The 2002 made-for-TV feature Two Against Time was the very definition of a tearjerker with its tale of a mother and daughter who have both been diagnosed with cancer; but Anspaugh was back the next year to make The Game of Their Lives, another against-all-odds, true-life sports drama, this time about the 1950 U.S. soccer team and its bid for the World Cup.