The 10 Most Shameless Abuses of Loopholes in Sports History
There are men. Then there are sportsmen. Then there are true competitors. And then there are the guys who just really, really hate to lose and will find any way in the rules to ensure they don't.
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By Dan Seitz
10. The Badgers Use The NCAA's Rule 3-2-5-e To Make Some Boring Winning Football
There's no getting around it: college football is big business. And in that spirit of big business, the NCAA decided to enact Rule 3-2-5-e in 2006, which was designed to speed up football games by starting the clock when the kicker touched the ball, not when the receiver caught it. After all, the fans are busy people who don't set aside an entire day to enjoy their favorite game. They're busy people with things to do and errands to run. Let's get this game fitting into a neat timeslot, right now!
Thankfully, we had the Badgers and Bret Bielema. Bielema, noting the rule, and that he had 23 seconds on the clock, had his kicking team go offside twice, running out the clock and leaving his opponent, Penn State, unable to get their offense off the bench.
The NCAA quickly changed the rule back. We guess all those football fans will just have to stop trying to rush the game.
9. The Brabham BT46B Discovers Ground Effect
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In 1978, Brabham rolled out a car which obviously had a huge problem...overheating. After all, it had to be overheating: there was a massive fan underneath the car sucking out all the air from underneath the car just to cool off the poor overheated engine.
As you might have guessed, this had a side effect on the Formula One car that the engineering team had innocently not anticipated. Namely that the vacuum on the bottom of the car allowed it to stick like glue to the track, especially around corners. In fact, it was so accidentally good at cornering that the driver, Niki Lauda, compared it to being on rails.
Believe it or not, this was actually allowed to race, and unsurprisingly won. Then the organization in charge of F1, Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, declared the configuration illegal.
And this wouldn't be an article about loopholes unless we noted that the ban meant that although the car was retired, it retired with a 100% win rate. Take that, F1 snobs!
8. Masakatsu Funaki Uses a Perm to Win MMA
In Japan, MMA is taken a little less seriously than in the US. Real matches will be held and then a staged wrestling match will come into the arena. It's all the same to the Japanese. But, despite that, there are rules that all fighters have to obey in any league, and the Japanese Pancrase Society in the 1990s was no exception.
For example, there was a strict dress code: trunks, boots, and nothing else. This was to get rid of any weapons that somebody might sneak into the ring, but it turns out there are no rules on personal hygiene, something Masakatsu Funaki noticed.
So, when he stepped into the ring the next time, he had a rich, glorious perm over his neck and shoulders...absolutely weighted down with hair grease. Why? Because it was impossible to slap him into a chokehold! He'd just slip out, probably with a giggle and an "OOPS!" while the other fighter just stared at the ring of his arm where the guy who was about to punch his face in used to be.
What's ironic is that Masakatsu didn't actually need this bit of rules lawyering. He could hand out beatings like nobody's business and is considered one of the best MMA fighters of all time.
7. Barbados' Ties the Game...By Kicking Into Its Own Net
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We don't really understand how soccer scoring works beyond getting a goal, because, and we're going to let the rest of the world in on a little secret here, it's seriously ridiculous. Take this situation in 1994, wherein Barbados had to beat Grenada, specifically by two goals. Why? Because the moon was waxing, who knows?
Anyway, Barbados was winning...by one goal, and Grenada knew it just had to keep them from scoring another to lose the match yet win the battle. At this point, the Barbados team recalled that goals count for two in overtime. Seriously, is this a sport or Calvinball?
Barbados needed to go into overtime, and it did so...by kicking the ball into its own net. The game was forced into overtime and Barbados got their double-scoring goal and advanced. And the rest of the world makes fun of us for not caring about this game. Next you'll tell us there's excitement in cricket.
6. Australia Makes Cricket Interesting, or At Least Discovers Cheating
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Well, okay, there is excitement in cricket, if you find rules lawyering and being kind of a douche to be exciting.
In 1981, Australia was up against New Zealand in the World Series Cup. New Zealand was close to winning...somehow...we're taking the cricket press at its word that it was a close match. These people score this game with fractions like 4/235, for God's sake. And we're going to have no complaining about bloody provincial Americans in the comments, because none of the five countries that play cricket really understand the rules either.
Anyway, the Australians rolled the ball on the ground instead of throwing it, essentially. This kept New Zealand from being able to score under the ridiculously complex rules of cricket, thus securing Australia the only World Series in a sport not related to fighting large predators or doing something utterly insane.