This paper considers three recent Japanese sports films for young people, Feel the Wind (2009), Oppai Volleyball (2009) and Dive!! (2008), which employ a common sports film script to explore the ways in which masculinity is constructed, expressed and evaluated through participation in sport. Through depictions of masculinities that achieve subjective agency and acceptance by peers despite a lack of competence or victory in sport, these films disrupt the established relationship between masculinity, competence and dominance, and endorse non-normative models of masculinity. They also reflect the tensions between a desire for agency, social constraints and expectations, and the dominant ideology of masculinity. In so doing, they help to illuminate the ways in which gender is negotiated in relation to contemporary social and political conditions.