1 + 9 More Sports Scandals

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A Brief History

On October 5, 2001, Barry Bonds hit 2 home runs giving him a total of 72 home runs in one baseball season and breaking Mark McGwire’s record of 70.  Bonds would later be implicated in a far-reaching steroids scandal that would also include McGwire.  On August 3, 2014 History and Headlines ran a list of “10 Sports Scandals,” and below we elaborate on 9 more.  There seems to be a never-ending supply of these, so if you do not see your favorite, you may see it in a future list.

Digging Deeper

9. Ball Four, Baseball Exposé

A tell-all book written by pitcher Jim Bouton in 1970, Ball Four exposes the world of baseball.  In it, Bouton revealed various lies told by ball players and coaches, drinking, drug use, cheating and other sexual indiscretions.  In particular the book chronicles the 1969 baseball season, but it is also liberally sprinkled with anecdotes from throughout Bouton’s career.  The commissioner of baseball, Bowie Kuhn, was outraged and tried to get Bouton to claim that all the stories were fictional,  but Bouton, of course, would not.  Other players and coaches were angered by Bouton’s lack of discretion and hated his guts for writing the book.  Bouton also wrote about the great and legendary Mickey Mantle’s excessive drinking and womanizing and that baseball’s all-time hits leader Pete Rose would yell, “Fuck you, Shakespeare!” at Bouton when he pitched.  History and Headlines Trivia: Bouton spent most of 1969 with the Seattle Pilots, the only year of that team’s existence.  Do not look for him on the team baseball card; he missed the photograph session.

8. Woody Hayes, Punching Opposing Player.

The famous coach of Ohio State University’s football team from 1951 to 1978, Hayes coached 3 National Championship teams, 13 Big Ten Championship teams and was a living legend at OSU.  Known for his temper tantrums, yelling, pushing his players, ripping up yard markers and the like, Hayes went too far at the 1978 Gator Bowl when he punched a Clemson University player after that player had intercepted an OSU pass.  That stunt got Hayes fired as coach and ended his coaching career.  History and Headlines Trivia: The player who had intercepted the pass was the nose guard, a most unlikely position to make an interception.

7. Aaron Hernandez, Double Murder.

In 2013, Aaron Hernandez, the New England Patriots star tight end, was indicted for a 2013 murder and then was later accused of a 2012 double murder.  He was also charged with weapons violations and was implicated in gang activity.  If all this was not enough, Hernandez is also being sued by a man who claims Hernandez shot him in the face!  Hernandez had signed a $40 million contract with the Patriots, but, of course, he was cut from the team.  His legal troubles are not yet resolved.  (Update: In 2017 Hernandez was found dead in his jail cell, a death ruled to be suicide.)

6. NBA Referee, Gambling on Games.

Tim Donaghy was a National Basketball Association (NBA) referee from 1994 to 2007 and had retired right before reports surfaced that he had bet on games that he refereed and had manipulated his calls to affect the point spread.  He was convicted of gambling charges and sentenced to 15 months in prison.  More importantly though, the common question if referees, umpires and other game officials sometimes make calls for nefarious reasons that fans often asked themselves was answered with an emphatic YES.  Fans have also long wondered about the fairness of boxing judges and referees (as well as the boxers themselves) and the judging at many other professional and amateur sporting events.

5. Roberto Duran, “No mas.”

Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran, known as “Hands of Stone,” disgraced himself during a 1980 boxing match with “Sugar Ray” Leonard when he quit in the seventh round, allegedly saying, “No mas” (No more).  Duran is one of the all-time great boxers, ranking 5th among fighters in the last 80 years in Ring Magazine, but he certainly dulled the luster of his record when he turned and walked to his corner and refused to continue fighting.  Duran later claimed he quit because of stomach cramps, but his manager said he quit because he was embarrassed by his own performance.  As championship boxing attracts millions of dollars in bets, there were a lot of irate boxing fans.  Duran had fought in several weight classes, including lightweight, welterweight and middleweight, among others.

4. Delonte West and Gloria James, Affair.

Gloria James is the mother of Lebron James.  Delonte West and Lebron James were both playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers when a rumor surfaced in 2010 that Lebron was furious with West because West had supposedly slept with Lebron’s mom.  West adamantly denied that he had done so, but that did not stop the rumors from circulating that Lebron would leave the Cavaliers because of the alleged incident.  When Lebron did leave to take his talents to Miami, the rumor gained credence.  In August of 2014 another story surfaced that claimed that West had finally admitted in a video interview that he did have sex with Gloria James.  Officially, however, he still denies it.

3. Bill Belichick, Spygate.

Bill Belichick coached 5 Super Bowl teams (3 of them winners) and was the architect of a rare undefeated regular season.  In 2007 one of Belichik’s assistants was caught by National Football League (NFL) security secretly taping the New York Jets’ signals, a forbidden activity.  Belichick was fined $500,000, and his team, the New England Patriots, was fined another $250,000.  Additionally, the Patriots lost their first-round draft choice for 2008.  (Update:  As of 2018 Belichick has coached a record 5 winning Super Bowl teams.)

2. NFL Domestic Violence: Ray Rice, Knocked Out Fiancée.

The star running back for the Baltimore Ravens, Rice created a firestorm of trouble for the NFL uswhen he got a 2-game suspension for knocking his fiancée out cold in an elevator earlier in the year (2014).  The shocking video of a pro-football player punching an attractive young woman and dragging her limp body out of an elevator stirred up a nationwide domestic violence controversy and created big problems (as yet unresolved) for the NFL Commissioner.  Other, recent domestic violence cases were also brought to the surface, and even major advertisers have expressed concern about the league.

1. Adrian Peterson, Child Abuse.

While the NFL was staggering under the weight of the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, the premier running back for the Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Petersen, was indicted in Texas for whipping his 4-year-old son with a switch stick.  The boy had numerous cuts and bruises across his back, legs, butt and even on his scrotum.  Petersen seemed baffled by all the negative attention and said he did nothing more than was also done to him as a boy.  This sordid incident immediately took the limelight away from Ray Rice, a considerable feat.  (Update: Peterson pleaded guilty in a plea bargain and was fined and placed on probation.  His football career resumed, but as of August 2, 2018, he was a free agent looking for a team.) 

Question for students (and subscribers): What do you think would be a fitting punishment for any of these athletes?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Lordan, Edward J.  Sports and Scandals: How Leagues Protect the Integrity of Their Games.  Praeger, 2014.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by Delaywaves of Barry Bonds’s 756th home run ball in the Baseball Hall of Fame, with the asterisk branded on it by Marc Ecko, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.


About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.