We all use phrases like “fair play” and “good sportsmanship” every day, but sports are not always that noble and fair. The world of sports is smeared with many affairs, but there are a few that certainly stand out as the biggest scandals in sports history.
Maradona vs. Honest Football
1986 World Cup is one of the most controversial in the history of this event and it’s all thanks to Diego Maradona and his “Hand of God”. In the quarterfinals where Argentina played England, Maradona, the greatest footballer of that time, scored a goal with this hand. The ref didn’t blow the whistle and the goal was counted. Argentina won the match and the tournament, and Maradona admitted to cheating later on.
Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan
Harding and Kerrigan were, according to many, the greatest ice skaters of their time. Naturally, they were huge rivals on the ice, but no one could suspect Tonya would go as far as she did to secure her dominance in the rink. In 1994, however, Kerrigan got attacked by a man with a metal pole and received a severe injury to her leg right before the U.S. Figure Skating Championship. Harding was not suspected to be involved in the attack, but Kerrigan declared the Harding, her ex-husband and her bodyguard paid a man to injure her and prevent her from skating. Harding was banned from skating, managed to return yet never reached her former glory days.
Tiger Woods vs. 12 Mistresses
The fall of 2009 was not a very happy time for Tiger Woods, especially after he got chased out of the house with a golf club. While this event was at first veiled in mystery, later everyone found out what actually happened in the Woods household. Tiger’s wife found texts from 12 different women who admitted to being intimate with Tiger during his marriage. Apparently, golf’s number one embraced the womanizing ways of his dad who allegedly kept various sex toys in every room and played porn 24/7. However, let’s not blame it on the sex toys—they are great, but let’s turn to Tiger’s infidelity. Woods divorces, lost custody of his kids, took a break from golf and never really returned to the top.
Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs
The match between two tennis greats, Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, is one for the history books. “The Battle of the Sexes” ended with 29-year-old King beating 55-year-old Riggs, showing the world that men and women can be equal on the court. It all started with Riggs taunting female players and offering money to every female player who could best him on the court. Billie Jean King accepted and won. However, this is not where the story ends. King’s victory was belittled by the allegations that she had beaten an opponent past his prime and that Riggs even fixed the match to receive money to pay off his gambling debts.
1919 Chicago White Sox vs. the Mob
In response to the team owner’s sketchy ways of running the club, eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox were excluded from baseball for life. Charles Comiskey, the owner in questions, managed to find various loopholes in contracts, prevented his star players to play and orchestrated bribes from underworld figures of the time. His moves lead to White Sox intentionally losing games and erupting in a number of scandals in the world of baseball. The scandal was brought to the big screen in a movie Eight Men Out which shows how this darkest moment in baseball played out.
Luckily, these scandals and conspiracies didn’t ruin the good name of sport. However, who knows what kind of controversies we can expect in the future, now that athletes, team owners and event organizers get so much money and fame for what they do.
Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to home improvement, DIY and interior design. In her free time she enjoys reading and preparing healthy meals for her family.
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Anent the “Black Sox” scandal, my grandfather, who was a keen student of boxing and had seen many of the old-time greats of the fight game, told me that he thought “The Little Hebrew,” Abe Attell, the former featherweight champion who was accused of being Arnold Rothstein’s bagman during the efforts to bribe the players, was the best boxer he had ever seen…and he had seen a lot–from “Ruby Robert” Fitzsimmons to Muhammad Ali!
That is absolutely fascinating!