Penn State and the 10 Biggest Sports Scandals of the 21st Century

John Nizinski@@jniz73Analyst IIIFebruary 1, 2012

Penn State and the 10 Biggest Sports Scandals of the 21st Century

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    With time comes changes. We are living in a world where no secret is safe and stories are reported the second they are uncovered.

    Athletes' personal lives have become part of their work and everything that they do is publicized. We have seen many athletes break the law, cheat the sport and blow off morals in their personal lives.

    Here is a look at the 10 biggest sports scandals so far this century.

Honorable Mention: Cheating at the Paralympic Games

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    This scandal is under "honorable mention" because it happened in 2000 which is technically not  the 21st century, but the scandal is worth mentioning.

    The Spanish Paralympic basketball team won the gold medal in the 2000 Paralympic Games. The only problem was that 10 of the 12 players on the team did not have a disability. Those players were advised to act as if they were "dumb."

    The hoax was discovered not long after the games and the team was required to give back their gold medals.

10. Kobe Bryant Sexual Assault Case

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    While staying in a hotel in Colorado in the summer of 2003, Kobe Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman. Bryant was arrested, but the charges were dropped because the woman wouldn't testify.

    Bryant admitted to having sexual relations with her but said that it was consensual and was not in anyway a sexual assault. 

    This incident cost Kobe Bryant some sponsors and a significant amount of money as he bought his wife a four million dollar apology ring. 

9. Syracuse Sex Abuse Scandal

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    A short time after the whole Penn State scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, Syracuse came out with a sex scandal of their own. Syracuse's men's assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine was accused of molesting at least three people. In response, Syracuse fired Fine.

    These allegations have not even come close to the same amount of coverage as Penn State's but investigation is ongoing as a third accuser had come forth in November.

    No prosecution is likely as the incidents exceed the statute of limitations.

8. Duke Lacrosse

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    Allegations against the Duke's men's lacrosse team sexually assaulting a stripper that they hired for a team party brought discussions about the questionable culture of men's college athletics. 

    In 2006, three men on Duke's lacrosse team were charged with first degree forcible rape. These charges were dropped because the stripper's story changed and lost credibility.

    Despite these charges being dropped, the incident still shed a negative light on one of the top lacrosse programs of all time.

7. Tour De France PED Scandal

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    This scandal would have been ranked a little higher had Lance Armstrong been rightfully accused of using performance-enhancing drugs. However, no allegations against Armstrong have ever been proven.

    The use of performance-enhancing drugs has always been a problem at the Tour de France. In 1998, a big scandal involving the Festina cycling team using drugs caused stricter drug testing requirements and the creation of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

    In 2006, Jan Ullrich and Floyd Landis were found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs, and in 2007 Alexander Vinokourov and Cristian Moreni were also found guilty.

    Floyd Landis was the original winner of the 2006 Tour de France and picked up right where the retired Armstrong left off. He was then disqualified after he was found guilty. 

6. Danny Almonte Age Scandal

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    Danny Almonte is probably the biggest star in the history of the Little League World Series because of his incredible performance and the fact that he was two years older than everyone else.

    Almonte was the star player of the Bronx team in the 2001 Little League World Series. He was nicknamed "The Little Unit" because he stood at 5'8'' and threw 75 MPH. He pitched a perfect game, a no-hitter and a one-hit shutout.

    Almonte became a well-known athlete and was even given the key to New York City.

    The speculation about Almonte's age was there, and on August 30, it was revealed that he was actually two years older than he was supposed to be.

5. NBA Referee Tim Donaghy Gambling Scandal

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    Gambling in sports has always been a problem, as infamously evidenced with the 1919 Black Sox and with Pete Rose.

    In 2007, NBA referee Tim Donaghy was accused of gambling on NBA games and swaying the outcome to his advantage. In the summer of 2007, it was found that Donaghy had placed tens of thousands of dollars worth of bets on the games that he was working. He said that he did make calls that would help him win his bets.

    The biggest problem with this scandal is that although NBA commissioner David Stern called Donaghy an "isolated criminal," Donaghy said there were other referees gambling. 

    This incident tarnished the already questionable reputation and credibility of NBA referees.

4. Tiger Woods Cheating Scandal

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    While Tiger Woods actions were not illegal, the amount of media exposure and coverage that was given to this scandal made it seem like they were.

    Tiger Woods was the best golfer in the world and arguably of all time. He represented everything that was good about sports and was a role model for a many people. 

    That all came crashing down when, in November of 2009, Woods crashed his SUV leaving his house at 2:30 in the morning.

    Stories and claims began rapidly coming out about Tiger Woods' affairs, and Woods admitted to having "120 affairs." His actions led to a divorce between Woods and his wife Elin Nordegren and a divorce between Woods and many of his sponsors.

    Woods is currently trying to rebuild his image, and finding success again in the sport of golf.

3. Vick Dog Fighting Scandal

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    One of the biggest stars in the NFL right now is Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. However, there was a time when it looked like Vick would never play in the league again.

    A 2007 investigation showed that unlawful dog fighting was being held on a property owned by Vick. Vick was charged with felony charges and sentenced to 23 months in prison.

    Vick seems to have grown from the incident and has done everything he can to prove he learned from his mistakes.

2. MLB Steroids Scandals

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    First and foremost, I will argue that steroids were both beneficial and detrimental to the game of baseball. 

    In the 1990's and early 2000's, MLB was a "hitter's game." Power numbers increased and players started to become larger than life. This was mainly because of the MLB players' use of steroids. 

    Stars and potential hall-of-famers were continuously being accused of "cheating" the sport of baseball. These actions have gone to federal courts and players like Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens have found themselves tied up with the law.

    Steroids have shined a poor light on the game of baseball and put a black mark on America's pastime.

1. Penn State, Jerry Sandusky Scandal

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    It shouldn't come as a real surprise that the Penn State scandal that struck the world is the number one sports scandal of the 21st century.

    This case has been wrongly handled by Penn State and many people have been affected by it.

    On November 4, 2011, a grand jury indicted Sandusky on 40 counts of sexual crimes against young boys. This scandal has been highly publicized.

    Penn State is a very unique school as the community and school have often been considered a "cult." That was evident as people inside this case, including Joe Paterno, turned the other cheek when the alleged accusations were made in the past about Sandusky.

    Sandusky's alleged, appalling actions and the actions (or lack thereof) by Penn State's football program led to the firing of arguably the most renowned and most successful college football coach of all time.

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