How to Cheat in Sports and Get Away with It

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistApril 14, 2014

How to Cheat in Sports and Get Away with It

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    Kathy Willens

    No one wants to be labeled a cheater, but when there's temptation to get a leg up on opponents, some athletes will take the chance.

    Now I'm not condoning taking the shortcut, but here are just a few ways that people can cheat in sports—and actually get away with it.

    So if you're feeling ballsy, go ahead and get sneaky.

Hold an Opponent

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    Rick Scuteri

    Technically, holding could be called on just about every single football play, but when it gets a little bit too extreme, the yellow flags fly.

    That's not saying it's a bad idea to do it—especially if you can get away with it like some teams have perfected.

    Whether it's an offensive lineman protecting his quarterback's blind side or a defensive back grabbing hold of a jersey to prevent a big play, holding in football is a sneaky way from preventing both big-time plays and injuries.

Fake an Injury

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    Thankfully, the NCAA didn't adopt the "slow-down" rule to prevent offenses from rushing to the line in hopes to catch defenses off-guard.

    Still, when a 300-pound lineman is gassed, one thing he can do is grab his calf and fall to the ground to slow the pace a bit.

    Since there's no real way to monitor it, players will continue to drop down if it helps their teammates catch their breath.

Traveling in Basketball

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    Let's face it: When it comes to the NBA, guys are traveling all over the place without it getting called.

    In fact, during the OKC Thunder vs. Indiana Pacers game on Sunday, commentator Jeff Van Gundy blatantly said he's happy the league doesn't call all of the traveling.

    Although shuffling your feet in a pickup game will nearly always get called, when it comes to NBA and some college contests, it's as easy as pie to pull off.

Not Putt Out

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    David Cannon/Getty Images

    A golfer could probably never get away with failing to finish a hole properly on the PGA or LPGA tour, but in a simple round with friends, it's common not to put out.

    Players actually seem to be rewarded more for reading a green properly and coming close to sinking a long putt than actually making the shot sometimes, which leaves them with a few extra strokes off their scorecard.

Play Illegal Players

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    Patrick Semansky

    This one pains me because it happened with my Ohio State Buckeyes a few years ago after a Sugar Bowl win, but the fact of the matter is that plenty of schools play illegal players at times.

    Most of the time it's just a minor penalty like having the kid sit out a few games, but on a larger scale—as was the case with the Buckeyes—wins get vacated, scholarships get revoked, and coaches and administrators lose their jobs.

    The NCAA is seemingly cracking down on this harder now, but don't be fooled: A few kids are still finding ways to suit up come game time.

Wear a Disguise

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    This doesn't happen too often, but when it does, it's funny—and quite clever—to see.

    One of the most famous instances came in 1999 when New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine used a fake mustache and sunglasses to act as a clubhouse assistant rather than the head guy.

    It did work for the game—his Mets won 4-3—but Bobby V got hit with a two-game suspension and $5,000 fine.

    Sure, he got busted in the end—even though he alleged it wasn't him—but his presence in the dugout may have helped the Mets in that game.

Lie About Your Name

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    David Maxwell/Getty Images

    Just when you think you know an athlete, something like this happens.

    In the case of current Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roberto Hernandez—formerly known as Fausto Carmona—after receiving a fake visa in 2010 and being suspended for three weeks by MLB, his false documents still didn't hurt him in the long run.

    Other than those three weeks off, Hernandez has maintained a career in the majors ever since.

    Sure, he didn't cheat like others on this list, but he did lie to benefit himself—which is a form of cheating, right?

Lie About Your Age

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    Craig Ruttle

    Just like the aforementioned Roberto Hernandez did, there are other instances of athletes who lie about their age in order to appear younger or older.

    One of the more famous ones came during the 2001 Little League World Series when Danny Almonte took the tournament by storm, earning VIP treatment thanks to his performances.

    There was just one problem—he was a bit older than the other kids.

    His lie ended up hurting his dad more than anything, but there have been other cases where a white lie on a player's birth certificate didn't affect him as much. Take Shabazz Muhammad, who ended up being a lottery pick even after it was discovered he was be a year older than his father claimed.

Give a Teammate a Shove

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    As one of the most hyped college football games in the past decade, the annual matchup between the USC Trojans and Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 2005 had it all—including an illegal final play that won it for Southern Cal.

    With just a few seconds left, running back Reggie Bush extended his hands and helped force quarterback Matt Leinart across the goal line for the winning score.

    The problem is that the "Bush Push" wasn't exactly legal—yet the Trojans still went on to win the game and ultimately play in the national title game that year.

Screen the Goalie

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    This one is tough because it's such an objective call for a referee.

    With so many bodies flying in front of a hockey goaltender, how can one determine who is and isn't blatantly trying to block the goalie's vision?

    Still, even with the "Avery Rule" that was implemented by the NHL back in 2008, players still know that tossing around their weight in front of the net will alter a netminder's ability to stop a shot—and it usually works.

Deceive the Refs

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    It's one of the most famous and recognizable plays in the history of sports, and it was due to the fact that the referees were deceived by former Argentine star Diego Maradona.

    Of course, no one knows for sure if he blatantly swatted the bouncing ball with his hand or not, but it happened, and Argentina beat England in the 1986 World Cup because of it.

    Knowing nothing could be done 20 years later, Maradona did apologize for the incident—only proving his trickery in getting away with the hand ball.

Fake Getting Hit by a Pitch

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    This one was just silly—but it was effective.

    Rather than leaning into a pitch like other ballplayers do to get on base, Chicago Cubs Julio Borbon acted miserably—and quite delayed—following a pitch last year by San Diego Padres pitcher Luke Gregerson.

    Borbon doesn't appear to have a future in Hollywood, but he was awarded first base, so his acting skills were good enough to convince the umpire of a bruise that never happened.

Doping and Denying

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    Maryse Alberti

    In some cases—like with New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez—all the denials of doping ultimately catch up with athletes.

    But in former seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's case, it took him to finally wilt and admit his own faults.

    For more than a decade, he denied any wrongdoing, openly saying he would volunteer for testing because he was clean.

    That is, until he admitted to Oprah Winfrey in early 2013 that it was all a lie, which cost him acknowledgment of his yellow jerseys and some sponsors.

    Still, Armstrong has his money and fame, so I'd say he came out on top—even if he isn't looked at as a champion any longer.

Diving in Soccer

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    It's one of the oldest tricks in the book—diving in soccer to draw a foul.

    While it's pretty obvious when a player goes down in a heap of pain following a light tap on the leg, some refs just can't help themselves. They actually call a foul on the player who kicked the guy on the ground.

    Sure, FIFA stepped in to try and help monitor it, but still, players go down to draw fouls on their opponents.

Use Pine Tar

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    Kathy Willens

    Was it pine tar, dirt or just sweat on New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda's hand last week?

    Who knows? But one thing is for sure—it looked suspicious.

    Over the years, a number of hurlers have found ways to get a little extra dip or slide on their pitches, and it seems like Pineda can be added to the list.

    Of course, MLB didn't find proof of any wrongdoing, so even if he was putting a little extra substance on the ball, he got off scot-free.


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    It's the lamest way to draw a foul in any basketball game, but because it happens so fast, refs have a tough time getting the call right.

    In some cases—like the kid in the video above—it should be obvious.

    But other times, players toss themselves to the ground in hopes of getting the ref to think they had defensive position and that the offensive player ran into them hard enough to knock them down.

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