At some point amidst the proud history of every sport, a team or player engages in an immoral action that taints their legacy or reputation. Here are five of the biggest scandals in sports.
5. Michael Vick’s Dogfighting
In 2007, Michael Vick was accused of participating in a dogfighting ring that had been ongoing for five years. A number of Vick’s dogs were killed while the survivors were irreparably harmed physically and mentally. Vick was convicted and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison. Even after returning to the NFL, Vick’s former team, the Atlanta Falcons refused to take him back despite his talents. The Eagles eventually picked him up as a third-string, but many other teams felt the same way about the former convict, deliberating as to whether or not he should even be admitted back into the league.
4. Tiger Woods’ Extra-Marital Affairs
When reports came out exposing Tiger Woods for his alleged indiscretions, the golfer took a mental turn for the worst. In the weeks that followed the publication, he crashed his car into a fire hydrant, admitted to having affairs with multiple women including New York night club owner Rachel Uchitel, and ultimately divorced his wife Elin Nordegren for a $750 million settlement. As the drama and chaos of Woods’ personal life progressively leaked in the media, Woods’ game rapidly deteriorated. He suffered multiple injuries that impacted his performance during 2010 and 2011, fell to a career-low ranking of No. 58 in November of 2011, and dropped out of the list of top 1,000 players in July of 2017.
3. Spygate and Deflategate
It’s hard to deny the Patriots’ notable coaching staff and success as a franchise, however, Belichik and the Pats have a scandalous history to accompany their achievements. In 2007, the team was caught videotaping the New York Jets’ coaches’ defensive signals. Belichick was fined half of a million dollars and the team lost its original first-round draft selection. In 2015, they were accused of intentionally under-inflating the footballs used during the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. After concluding that Brady was well aware of the situation, the league suspended the star quarterback for four games and the team was fined $1 million. In their most recent controversy, Spygate 2.0, a Patriots video assistant was caught illegally recording the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline. Discipline for this latest incident is expected to be enforced in the coming weeks.
2. Black Sox Scandal
In one of the biggest fixes in baseball history, eight players on the Chicago White Sox were accused of intentionally losing multiple games to the Cincinnati Reds during the 1919 World Series in exchange for gambling money. Though the players were acquitted in court, former MLB commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned them from the sport for life.
1. Nancy Kerrigan Attack
Prior to the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championship in Detroit, figure skater Nancy Kerrigan glided off the ice at the end of a practice session. As she began to exit the arena, Shane Stant followed her from behind and clubbed her right knee. After the attack, Kerrigan’s face was plastered across the front covers of newspapers nationwide with the headline of the same cries she made when collapsing to the ground – “Why? Why me?” Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and her bodyguard Shawn Eckardt were responsible for planning the assault, having hired Stant in an attempt to break Kerrigan’s leg and certify Harding would qualify for the 1994 Winter Olympic Games. Though Harding claimed to have no prior knowledge of her husband and body guard’s scheme, she was fined $100,000 by the U.S. Figure Skating Association and then banned for life before being stripped of all her titles.