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These athletes broke the rules and faced the consequences. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 unsportsmanlike moments in sports.
For this list, we’re focusing on displays of bad behavior, unsportsmanlike conduct and violence during or after sporting events that simply made our jaws drop.
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#10: Bill Romanowski and the Monday Night Football Incident, American Football (1997)
It wasn’t his first altercation and it wouldn’t be his last. However, we’ve chosen the Monday Night football game where Bill Romanowski projected body fluid onto an opponent. That’s right, the then-Denver Bronco linebacker spit in J.J. Stokes’ face after the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver allegedly goaded him to do it. The incident also raised issues of racism since Billy is Caucasian and Stokes is African-American.
#9: The Shoe Incident, Hockey (1979)
Fights are pretty commonplace in hockey. But even for the rock 'em, sock'em playing style of the 70s, this brawl involving a Boston Bruins defenseman and New York Rangers fan was really outta the norm. To catch a spectator who’d assaulted a player, the Bruins team leapt into the stands. But most shocking was when Mike Milbury hit the offender with his shoe, resulting in multiple player suspensions and fines.
#8: Attack on Nancy Kerrigan, Figure Skating (1994)
While the Olympics are competitive, this went beyond anything we'd come to expect from figure skating. To increase her chances at the Olympics, Tonya Harding conspired to have rival Nancy Kerrigan taken out of the picture. Kerrigan was then unable to participate in the U.S. Figure Skating Championship, clearing the way for Harding’s victory. Though both made the Olympic team, Harding eventually faced charges for her involvement.
#7: Roberto Alomar and the Spitting Incident, Baseball (1996)
He may be one of baseball’s most talented second basemen but that doesn’t mean he always kept himself in line. During a 1996 game against the Blue Jays, Roberto Alomar objected to John Hirschbeck’s call by spitting in the umpire’s face. Though the Baltimore Orioles player claimed Hirschbeck had made racist comments, Alomar was suspended for five games. The two eventually reconciled.
#6: Boston Marathon Cheater, Running (1980)
Though Rosie Ruiz maintained she ran the Boston Marathon in its entirety for years after, it’s generally accepted that the Cuban American cheated her way to the finish line. The fact that Ruiz barely broke a sweat and wasn’t familiar with common runners’ terms was just the starting point for people’s suspicions. For while there wasn’t any video surveillance, witness reports that she took the subway and official investigations ultimately revealed the truth.
#5: Luis Suárez and the Bite Incident, Football (2013)
Though the Liverpool player was charged with the racially-motivated abuse of Manchester United’s Patrice Evra in 2011, it’s the violent conduct charge he accepted 2 years later that lands here. While playing a Premier League match, Luis Suárez sunk his teeth into Chelsea player Branislav Invanović. Instead of the standard three-game ban, the Liverpool forward was forbidden from playing 10 for the serious nature of his actions.
#4: Black Sox Scandal, Baseball (1919)
This scandal caused so much damage to baseball that officials banned the players involved for life. Referring to the conspiracy between eight White Sox players and pro gamblers to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series games, this fixing of the MLB championship also achieved notoriety for the alleged participation of legendary athletes like Shoeless Joe Jackson.
#3: Tyson vs. Holyfield II, Boxing (1997)
Mike Tyson was already seen a wild and crazy boxer, but his 1997 rematch against Evander Holyfield topped anything and everything else he'd done in the ring. During “The Sound and the Fury” fight, Tyson didn’t only bite his opponent on the ear once, but twice! He was disqualified and later stated his actions were in response to Holyfield’s un-penalized head butting.
#2: The Malice at the Palace, Basketball (2004)
Though the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons fight began on the court, it quickly degenerated into the NBA’s most infamous brawl when they took it to the stands: after a spectator threw a drink at Ron Artest, pro b-ballers and fans began throwing punches and drinks at each other. The Pacers-Piston Brawl led to multiple player suspensions and criminal charges for several fans.
- Todd Bertuzzi Punches Steve Moore, Hockey (2004)
- Pedro Martinez and Don Zimmer Brawl, Baseball (2003)
- Chris Simon High Sticks Ryan Hollwegg, Hockey (2007)
- Jack Tatum’s Preseason Game Hit Paralyzes Darryl Stingley, American Football (1978)
- Izzy Alcántara Kicks Catcher Jeremy Salazar and Charges the Mound, Baseball (2001)
#1: Zinedine Zidane Headbutts Marco Materazzi, Football (2006)
It was during France’s return to the 2006 World Cup Finals when, seemingly out of nowhere, Zinedine Zidane used his noggin to hit Marco Materazzi in the chest. Zidane was sent off the pitch, and Italy won the game in the shootout. It was later revealed the Italian player had taunted and insulted Zidane. While this kind of behavior wouldn’t necessarily be considered the craziest reaction in a normal game, the fact that it occurred during the world's biggest game and on the biggest stage lands it on top.
Do you agree with our list? What do you think is the most unsportsmanlike moment in sports? With new top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.