25 Terrible Examples of Sportsmanship
A hip check here, a rib poke there—that's all fine and well.
A dash of competitive jockeying never killed anyone.
But when athletes abandon all human empathy and begin playing the game with a break-their-necks-and-burn-the-village mentality, they hurt themselves, their team and everyone around them.
This list contains some of the most egregious examples of poor sportsmanship we’ve seen. And as one would imagine, there’s no shortage of examples to chose from, so I decided to go with a mix of the old classics and some lesser known and newer examples.
And while it’s far from exhaustive, it’s even further from pretty. It’s 25 terrible examples of sportsmanship, and it’s a crying shame we even have to deal with them.
Brazilian Coach Goes on Limp-Wristed Rampage
Brazilian soccer coach Pedro Santilli took the figurative idea of sportsmanship to the woodshed in 2006 when he charged onto the field and started getting physical with both players and officials.
Santilli was allegedly angry with the slow pace of the game, and was trying to speed things up by shoving a player and floating out a fluffy frittata punch at a referee.
Steve Blake and John Gilchrist Throw Down
Hot teammate-on-teammate action.
Before he was with the Lakers, Steve Blake was a far leaner, far more impetuous point guard for the University of Maryland.
In this video, Blake and teammate John Gilchrist get after each other in practice until Blake snaps and slings a wild fist at Gilchrist’s head.
Luiz Adriano’s Fair Play Failure
Shakhtar Donetsk striker Luiz Adriano jettisoned any and all respect for the unwritten rules of soccer when he scored off a ball that was meant to be returned to the Nordsjaelland defense.
Adriano’s disregard for fair play decorum in the sport wasn’t technically against any rules, but the striker was punished by UEFA with a one-game suspension for his actions.
Caron Butler Gives Them the Ol’ Fake Hi-Five
The last seconds of the fourth quarter are winding down and Caron Butler just wants to congratulate you on a good game.
I mean, come on. You’re up 27 points, the game is over—what’s the worst that could happen?
Turns out the worst that could happen would be Butler wrenching the ball from your grasp and taking it down court and drawing a foul like an a-hole.
TJ Lang Gets Popped in the Pouch
You always, ALWAYS have to protect the McNuggets, my friends.
But there are some things that are impossible to guard the marble menagerie against, and one of those things is the left foot of Vikings defensive end Brian Robison.
Robison was caught on camera delivering a nasty kick-stab into the groin of the Packers’ T.J. Lang in 2011.
And anything that involves delivering a purposeful, direct shot to the skin bin is a far cry from the founding principles of all sports.
Marshall Henderson—Big Tool? or Biggest?
Big, bad Marshall Henderson and No. 23 Ole Miss came into unranked Auburn and squeaked out the thinnest of wins, after which Marshall decided turn on his douchey afterburners and mock the Auburn fans.
Albert Haynesworth Has Fought and He Can’t Get Up
Albert Haynesworth loved two things when he was in the NFL: Showing up to training camp overweight and pissing everybody off.
And in this video, it would appear that Haynesworth managed to do both of these things simultaneously by fighting his teammates during practice, and not being able to get off his butt after being taken down.
Sure, it wasn’t extremely poor sportsmanship, but at least they were offering him water at the end. It’s no Philly cheesesteak, but I’m sure he appreciated the gesture.
Dennis Rodman Gives Photographer the Boot
Dennis, Dennis Dennis... When are you going to learn?
Dennis Rodman was one of the fiercest competitors in NBA history, and no man was going to get between him and a rebound.
Even if that man was a harmless photographer who was just doing his job.
Tom Brady Goes Kung Fu Panda
It’s well-known that the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens love each other not, and Tom Brady certainly looked as though he was looking to do some damage on Ravens safety Ed Reed with this slide in last season’s AFC Championship game.
I’d also like to point out—only Tom Brady could find the righteous indignation to turn something designed to safeguard quarterbacks into an attack maneuver.
Marty McSorley High-Sticks Donald Brashear in Head
Few things are less neighborly than bashing a fellow athlete in the temple with a hockey stick, which is exactly what former Boston Bruins’ defenseman Marty McSorley did in 2000.
Angry with the perennially a-holish playing style of Vancouver’s Donald Brashear, McSorley decided to chop timber and crack the Canucks enforcer upside the head with his stick—a move that’s only legal if you’re playing prison hockey on Petak Island.
Pedro Martinez Chucks Don Zimmer
Pedro said he was having control problems. Don Zimmer said Pedro was full of crap.
No matter who you believe was the real instigator of this fight, the ugly bastard sword of poor sportsmanship cuts both ways in the Martinez/Zimmer Incident.
Pedro Martinez had no right to throw the old man like a used lawn chair, and the Yankees bench coach was outside of his mind thinking he could charge Martinez.
All in all, the unsportsmanlike conduct on both sides leads to a wash.
Peruvian Striker Scores on Injured Goalie
After gathering a loose ball, Comercio goalie Juan Flores dropped to the ground, stricken with heat exhaustion.
Perfect time for a break? Maybe allow a fellow human being writhing in pain a few seconds to get off the pitch?
Nope, it was time for Cesar Vallejo striker Piero Alva to run in for the kill, and the Peruvian striker made his move, deflecting the clear attempt into the goal and putting his side up two-nil.
Bravo, Piero. I hope they gave you a trophy for this one. You could store it in that hollow place inside of you where the rest us keep our soul/father’s respect.
LeGarette Blount Falcon Punches BSU Player Back to the Future
Former University of Oregon running back LeGarette Blount went Super Saiyan and nearly relieved Boise State linebacker Bryant Hout of his head after the Ducks lost their season opener to the Broncos in 2009.
It was an ugly evening for the Ducks, and Blount ended up being suspended from play for the rest of his senior season for his actions.
Tony Scheffler’s Abhorrent Flop Attempt
It isn’t bad sportsmanship, but the Detroit Lions tight end Tony Scheffler’s ridiculous flop after receiving an arm grace from Malcolm Jenkins is just too much gamesmanship to handle.
We’re used to seeing these things in the NBA, but watching a 6’5” tight end try to pull it off in the gridiron is sad and in the poorest of tastes.
Ben Blood’s Handshake Line Punch
University of North Dakota hockey player Ben Blood slaughtered one of hockey’s most sacred cows when he sucker punched a Minnesota player in the handshake line in 2012.
Allow me to repeat the fact that his name is Ben Blood, so we can assume sportsmanship ranks somewhere around “water Chia pet” on his personal to-do list.
Sean Avery Creates ‘The Avery Rule’
Call it what you will, but former New York Rangers left winger Sean Avery and his face-guarding tactics on Martin Brodeur were so infuriatingly effective that the NHL had amend its rule book in order to outlaw the maneuver.
When a sport’s rules on sportsmanship have to be changed due to your actions, you have truly reached the pinnacle of gamesmanship.
Delonte West Unleashes the Wet Willie
If there were an award for “Most Childish Poor Sportsmanship Shown by a Professional Athlete,” Delonte West would win in a landslide victory for his ear-fingering of Gordon Hayward in 2012.
New Mexico Soccer Player Grips It, Rips It
A Google search for “Psycho soccer chick” yields one consistent result—videos of former University of New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert rampaging on the pitch.
Lambert became infamous after going on this Grand Theft Auto-like spree of unpunished, hair-pulling mayhem in a 2010 match against BYU.
She was eventually reined in and was punished for her actions, but not before rib-kicking what appears to be half the players on the field.
Mike Tyson Chomps on Evander Holyfield
There’s nothing I can say about the poor sportsmanship exhibited by Mike Tyson in his 1997 bout with Evander Holyfield that wasn’t better summed up by referee Mitch Halpern in this clip:
“He bit ‘em, [that’s] bull***.”
The Suh Stomp
What would Thanksgiving Day be without a foot-related controversy involving Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh?
Suh denies stomping the Packers' Evan Dietrich-Smith after being ejected from a Thanksgiving Day game in 2011, saying he was just “trying to remove himself from the situation.”
We can only assume that’s Suh-nese for “I was trying to kick-start my invisible motorcycle of uncontrollable rage, and he got in the way.”
The Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding Affair
Appalling is the only way to describe the actions former ice skater Tonya Harding took to keep rival competitor Nancy Kerrigan from competing in the 1994 Figure Skating Championship.
Harding hired a man to club Kerrigan in the leg before taking the ice, and ended up winning the event herself. The plot was eventually uncovered by authorities, but Harding avoided directly taking the rap for the attack, and now all we’re left with is the footage of its aftermath and Harding’s disgusting face plastered all over truTV.
Stevie Johnson Does the Plaxico
Arkansas Player’s Dangerous Hit on Punt Returner
Bad sportsmanship is one thing, but Arkansas receiver Marquel Wade’s early hit on punt returner Jonathan Krause in 2011 could’ve easily been ruled intentional homicide had things ended differently.
Wade laid into Krause at full speed as the kick returner was moving into position to field the punt—a very, very illegal and dangerous thing to do on the football field.
But not one to hit a defenseless man and feel remorse, Wade turned on the poor sportsmanship afterburners and celebrated his completely illegal hit as Krause lay dazed on the field.
Luckily for all, Krause was able to walk off the field and Wade was ejected from the game and given a light, low-calorie one-game suspension for the hit.
Bill Romanowski Spitballs with J.J. Stokes
Monday Night Football: “Where Galling Disrespect for Our Fellow Man Happen.”
Bill Romanowski was a hard-tackling man’s man on the gridiron, but the video of him spitting on the San Francisco 49ers’ J.J. Stokes during a 1997 MNF game is one the worst kind of extra curricular activity you could ever see during game.
To Stokes' credit, he turned away and took the high road, and the gentle fabric of professional sportsmanship wasn’t completely torn asunder.
Uruguayan Ball Player Smashes Referee’s Face
Pro basketball in Uruguay got more publicity than it ever asked for when Argentinian big man Elvis Boeing leveled an official with this sonic jaw-cruncher in 2009.
Boeing was banned from league play for life for the punch, which in and of itself had enough force behind it to destroy the figurative idea that is sportsmanship.
A tiny spot of sportsmanship does occur in this video when the players begin fanning the unconscious referee as he lays on the hardwood, which unfortunately didn’t help to fix his shattered jaw.
But it’s the thought that counts.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!