New this week on Blu-ray and DVD, “When the Game Stands Tall,” starring Jim Caviezel (of the 2004 “The Passion of the Christ“) and Laura Dern, targets faith audiences with a fact-based story about a Catholic high school for boys with a football team that enjoyed an unparalleled winning streak lasting a dozen years.

The true story of the De La Salle High School Spartans, in Concord, California, and coach Bob Ladouceur is more interesting than the film, with its paper-thin characters, trite dialogue, and sometimes muddled melodrama.

More than once the film undermines its own inspirational message about what really matters in the long run by celebrating football and the brotherhood of the team as the pinnacle of the players’ lives.

The faith element, too, is more vague than Caviezel’s involvement might suggest; his character teaches a scripture class, but the school setting could easily be Baptist rather than Catholic.

By contrast, “Rudy” (1993), the archetypal football movie with a Catholic school setting, doesn’t have much to say about religion, but at least there are priests at Notre Dame.

Despite flopping at the box office, “When the Game Stands Tall” is selling well on DVD, attesting the potency of its faith-and-football milieu.

Sports and religion have often been linked on-screen.

The most celebrated case in point is the 1981 Academy Award for Best Picture winner “Chariots of Fire,” a fact-based drama about two British athletes in the 1924 Olympics: a Jewish runner for whom competing is a tool against anti-Semitism and a Christian who runs simply to feel God’s pleasure.

“Chariots of Fire” is best remembered for the Christian runner’s crisis of conscience when a qualifying heat is scheduled on a Sunday, when his convictions won’t allow him to run. The 1995 Vatican film list ranks “Chariots of Fire” among its 15 notable titles in the category of “Values.”

A more recent fact-based Best Picture winner, “The Blind Side” (2009), offers more conventional sports uplift, with Sandra Bullock as a Bible-belt Evangelical wife and mother whose family takes in an illiterate, homeless youth named Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) who goes on to a successful college and pro football career.

A third Best Picture winner, “Million Dollar Baby” (2004), offers a very different blend of sports and religion.

Director Clint Eastwood plays Frankie, a boxing coach and a conflicted Catholic, a daily communicant who pesters his impatient priest with questions about the Immaculate Conception and the Trinity, not unlike Hilary Swank’s Maggie pestering him to coach her as a boxer.

When Maggie is paralyzed for life in a fight by an illegal cheap shot, she begs a horrified, guilt-wracked Frankie to help her commit suicide. Frankie’s pastor counsels him gravely against this, but the priest’s advice is shallow and unconvincing, setting up what is ultimately a sympathetic, affirmative depiction of euthanasia.

A few faith-based indies have blended sports and religion, including “Facing the Giants” (2006) with clunky sermonizing and “The Mighty Macs” (2009) with odd reserve.

Popular Hollywood efforts aren’t always better. Those that are, however, include “The Rookie” (2002), “Secretariat” (2010) and “Soul Surfer” (2011).