Top unsporting moments in world sport

The most unsportman-like behavior ever seen

No matter how many times you hear people say “sports people should be role models” the fact will remain some of our sporting idols may be great competitors but not all of them are going to be great people. They’re fallible and let’s be honest we love them all the more for it. With this in mind here is the guide to some of the most infamous unsporting moments of all time. Some are whimsical and dastardly while a few are down right shocking, but admit it, without controversy the sporting world would be a much, much greyer place.

Dennis Rodman kicks innocent photographer, 1997

We shudder to think what Chicago Bulls legend Dennis Rodman would have become had he not been a talented ball player. That the rainbow haired, cross dressing giant had his fair share of controversial and unsporting moments is a given, but the one which made our list occurred in 1997 during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rodman went up for a defensive rebound. As he landed he tripped over photographer Eugene Amos. Rodman appeared to grin at Amos before sensationally planting a vicious kick square in the unsuspecting photographer’s groin.  No foul was given at the time but a $200,000 settlement and ban resulted.

Mike Tyson, serial ear biter, 1997

The second historic fight between these two boxing greats will not be remembered for the quality of the pugilism on show. In the third round of the fight Tyson, losing on points, leaned in during a clinch with Holyfield and in a piece of jaw dropping ferocity, bit off a piece of his ear and spat it onto the ring floor. As if that wasn’t bad enough, after a two point deduction a subsequent clinch Tyson saw Tyson attempt to even things out by biting Holyfield’s other ear. Thankfully this time he failed to achieve the purchase required to do further damage but, needless to say, Iron Mike was disqualified after this second attempt.

Woody Hayes’ career ending throat punch, 1978

It is for his insane punch that OSU college football coach Woody Hayes will sadly be remembered. Hayes had always been known for his fiery temper, but after instructing his team to pass rather than run on the Clemson 24-yard line, the pass was intercepted and Hayes absolutely lost it. He proceeded to throw a punch into the throat of the guilty party, Clemson nose guard Bauman. Hayes was fired from his post and his career ended as a result.

Bloodgate, Harlequins vs Leinster, 2009

There have been other instances of the use of fake blood in the sport of rugby but the incident which really sullied the sport due to the nature and level of deception was the blood gate scandal perpetrated by Harlequins wing Tom Williams. In order to facilitate a tactical substitution Williams used a fake blood capsule feign injury. The incident was made worse when, as people began to suspect foul play and asked to inspect Williams’ injury, physiotherapist Wendy Chapman retrospectively cut his lip to help him dupe authorities.

Rivaldo going for the Oscar, Japan, World Cup 2002

Football  is the world’s biggest and most played sport. It is also known as a sport in which sometimes the notions chivalry and fair play are not among the vocab. We could have made a top one hundred list of the worst dives and fake injuries list seen in the beautiful game, but that would have been too obvious. However, among some of the more unusual of reprehensible moments in football is Brazilian legend Rivaldo's crazy piece of dramatics when he had the ball kicked at him by Turkish Hakan Unsal. See the video. 

The underarm incident, Australia vs. New Zealand, 1981

Cricket is known as a gentleman’s game with the phrase “that’s just not cricket” commonly used to describe anything considered unsporting. There is one moment from the gentile sport of tea breaks and woolen jumpers that is without a doubt a contender for most unsporting. It occurred in 1981 in a World Series Cricket ODI between Australian and New Zealand. With six needed off the last ball for NZ to tie the match and series Aussie captain Greg Chappell called his brother Trevor over and ordered him to bowl an unhittable underarm delivery. This was a tactic forbidden in most countries but not written into the Benson and Hedges tournament rule book – the tactic was probably considered so shameful as to be unfathomable.  The move was denounced around the cricketing world, Aussie legend Richie Benaud branding it “a disgrace which must never be allowed to happen again”.

Michael Schumacher, Adelaide Grand Prix, 1994

With the 1994 F1 championship delicately poised, Michael Schumacher needed to finish ahead of rival Damon Hill to win the drivers title. With Hill just about to take the lead Schumacher clipped the British Driver and bent one of the wish bone joints at the front of his car. Schumacher had to retire and watched as Hill attempted to limp to the pit before retiring himself. Hill’s retirement from the race handed Schumacher the title. At the time it was uncertain as to whether Schumacher meant to cause the collision but when he more obviously failed to repeat the feat in 1997 most peoples doubts were banished.

John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!” Wimbledon, 1981

We love this moment, it is one of the more light hearted unsporting moments.  Having had a point given against him when he believed his shot had landed in McEnroe blew his top and berated umpire Ted James saying: “You cannot be serious! That ball was on the line, chalk flew up” before informing James he was the pits of the world. Absolute sporting gold.

Mark Renshaw’s head butt Tour de France, 2010

The most recent in our rundown of sporting skullduggery. In a race filled with controversy in many of its separate legs, the most down right dirty moment has to be the disqualification attained by Australian cyclist Mark Renshaw. During stage 11, while leading out eventual stage winner, teammate Mark Cavendish, Renshaw leant over to and head sparred with rival Julian Dean, in order to stave off the rider’s challenge for position.

Diego Maradona’s hand of God, World Cup quarter final 1986

This has to be one of the most immoral moments to occur in any sport. Having made a teasing run into the England penalty box, the diminutive Maradona Argentina’s flawed genius seemed to miraculously out jump Peter Shilton to reach a miscued Steve Hodge clearance and put Argentina into the lead. The real miracle was of course that Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser and his assistance failed to notice what every other spectator and player the pitch saw clear as day: that Maradona had used his hand to tip the ball over the flailing Shilton.

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