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Crazy Rules In Sport

Updated on September 17, 2014

Enough to Drive You Crazy!

As an avid watcher of almost every sport I sometimes find myself scratching my head at the end of a game and muttering out loud, 'What the hell happened there?' as a decision by a referee or umpire ensures that my team is narrowly beaten.

The commentators and the Internet then confirm that they used an oft forgotten rule from 1934 which hadn't been enforced since, well 1934! Grrrrr.

Every sport has one of those crazy rules that you only seem to hear about when it costs your team the championship game. Here is a list of a few of those interspersed with some more well known, but equally unintelligible rules in modern sport.

Crazy Basketball Rules


Here is the inspiration for this article. I was watching one of those shows that explains how things were done and after showing a pool player get 12 balls in at once, they wired up a basketball player to see if he could actually get a basket within 0.3 seconds, thus making a mockery of the Trent Tucker Rule.What? Trent Who?

So it was with incredulity I watched as not only did the basketballer get the ball in the net in 0.22 seconds but that it would be called no score thanks to the Trent Tucker Rule.

The Trent Tucker Rule" - The game clock must indicate 0:00.3 (three tenths of a second) or more for a player to gain control of the ball on a throw-in or on a rebound after the last or only free throw in order to attempt a shot for a field goal. If the game clock indicates 0:00.2 or 0:00.1 the only type of a valid field goal made is by tapping or directly dunking the ball."So if there is 0.3 seconds or less left on the clock you must have a player on your team tap or dunk the ball to get a score.

Why?The Knicks and the Bulls were playing Madison Square Garden in 1990 with scores tied at 106 each and 0.1 seconds on the clock. Mark Jackson in-bounded to Tucker who turned and hit a 3 point basket. Everyone agreed it was impossible to do it in 0.1 seconds and a committee decided that 0.3 was the minimum it would take a player to score from free play.

So hence the rule (which TV proved is actually wrong, but that's what happens when rules are made by a committee of non players).The real reason was to ensure timekeepers didn't extend 0.3 seconds out to give the home team one more chance to win. Did I say Hmmmm?

A final note on this. The Bulls appealed the result and lost that too!

The Shot that Instigated the Rule Change

Basketball Gear - Now you know the rules - Play the game

Lifetime 1221 Pro Court Height Adjustable Portable Basketball System, 44 Inch Backboard
Lifetime 1221 Pro Court Height Adjustable Portable Basketball System, 44 Inch Backboard

Get your own ring and backboard and see if you can actually make a mockery of the Trent Tucker Rule.


Baseballs Crazy Rules

Spit-ball Paranoia - To ensure a pitcher doesn't get tempted to throw the illegal spit-ball, he cannot lick his hand, wipe his brow, or adjust his waistline and then directly touch the ball. The pitcher must first wipe his hand on the outside of his uniform and then proceed to grip the baseball.

3 Strikes and You're Out? - Not Quite. Swing at 3 pitches and you are struck out? Not quite. If the catcher drops or fumbles the ball the batter can attempt to run to first base before the catcher recovers the ball and tries to throw out the batter at first base. Unless someone is already standing on first base. Then you are really just out.

Public Announcer - If a player has been announced by the public address system, he must then either bat to remain in the game, or is ineligible to play for the remainder of the game.

Hats Off - If a player attempts to use his hat or face-mask to either change the trajectory of, or catch the ball, a three base hit is awarded.

Slow Coach - If a player, whilst running the bases runs past another player also rounding the bases, then the slower player is automatically called out. Who gets credit for this out? The fielder standing closest to the passed player!

Dropsy - If a pitcher drops the ball whilst on the mound it is deemed a 'balk' and any player already on base gets a walk to the next one.

A Sticky Situation - A batter is not permitted to have more than 18 inches of pine tar (pine tar is used to increase a batters grip on the bat) on their bat. If the other team or umpire suspects they do, then that batsman is automatically declared out.

No Midgets Allowed - In 1951, 3'7" Eddie Gaedel had his American League contract annulled after playing one game. Because of his height the strike zone was so small he was walked on his one at bat. Not wanting to turn the game into a mockery, little Eddie was sent packing.

American Footballs Crazy Rules

American Football
American Football

American Football - So many players, so many rules!

No Leapfrog for you - If you get a boost from any other player on your team in an attempt to gain more height on the field you immediately give away a 15 yard penalty.

Snap, Miss? - No Worries.If the quarterback lines up under the centre and misses the snap of the ball with it travelling between his legs untouched, no problem, the ball can't be recovered by the opposing team. However if the ball travels past his hip or over his head then it's game on. Between the legs seems to be a sacred place in football. Hmmm.

Converting an in play punt to a 40 Yard Gain - The opposition punts the ball and it's about to bounce on the one yard line and go out, what do you do? Stick one foot out of bounds and catch the ball. Since your foot is out of play the ball is deemed out of play as well and gets returned to the 40 yard line. Even though if you hadn't interfered, the ball would have landed in play. Double Hmmmm.

Touchdown! Without Crossing The Goal Line - In a game as rough as football you can get a touchdown without crossing the goal line if the officials deem that a palpably unfair act has taken place and deprived the attacking team a touchdown. Unless the opposing coach jumped in and tackled a player or there is a death on the field, I can't see when this rule would be invoked.

The Third Man - If you play your third string quarterback before the end of the third quarter, you immediately disqualify your first and second quarterbacks from the rest of the game. So don't even think about bringing him on in the first quarter to hold a place kick, otherwise you are going to him for the next 3 1/2 quarters to win you the game. Good luck!

American Football Gear - We call it Gridiron!

Crickets Crazy Rules


Leg Before Wicket (LBW) - One of the most difficult laws of cricket to explain to anyone who is unfamiliar with the game. The idea is to stop batsmen from just standing in front of the wicket and stopping the ball hitting it with their pads.

This has led to the following: You are out when:-

- You are struck on the legs in front of the stumps

- The ball has pitched in line with the stumps or on the 'off side' (opposite side to the batters legs) and hit you in front of the wicket

- The ball was going on to hit the stumps

- You are also out if you didn't try to hit the ball and it hit you outside the stumps but would have continued on to hit them

- And even though it's called Leg Before Wicket, if you are crouching down and the ball hits you in any part of the body not with a bat in it (e.g. your head), and it fits the above criteria, you can still be out LBW.

You're not out: For reasons best known to the ancients of cricket, if the ball pitches outside of the leg stump. Feel free to kick it away with impunity. Can't be out, full stop.

Bowling The Ball - When bowling in cricket you are considered to have thrown the ball (thus breaking the rules of cricket) instead of 'bowling' it, if you bend your arm more than 15 degrees. Good luck judging that with the naked eye.

Tennis's Crazy Rules

Tennis Player
Tennis Player

Tennis only has 30 rules, yet somehow the US Tennis Association has printed a 324 page book to explain these 30 rules. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. A couple of the crazy rules include:-

If you hit the ball and it lands on your opponents side of the net and then either blows or spins back on to yours, the other player must attempt to hit it without touching either your side of the court or the net. The best shot they can play if you manage to do this? Smash it back into the net. Point won.

- If you can somehow injure your opponent and it is not deemed intentional, you win the game.-

Which brings us nicely to: if you or your doubles partner get hit by a serve on the full you lose the point. Ready, aim, fire!

Soccers Crazy Rules


There is nothing harder to explain to a non fan than footballs offside rule. It is the one, exceptionally crazy piece of legislation in the beautiful game. Especially now we have the magic of passive offside added to the mix. So here we go:

A player is deemed offside if he (or she) is nearer to the opponents goal than the second last player of the opposition team, when the ball is kicked. The exceptions to this are:- When the player is in their own half of the field.

You can't be offside in your own half.- When they are in line with the second last defender. (unless of course part of you that can be used to control the ball is offside. E.g. Hands in front=Onside, Heads/Chest/Legs=Offside.

- If you are 'passively' offside. In other words if you are not receiving the ball or involved in an active part of the play. For instance you are lying injured on the pitch. Though this rule is highly contentious as forwards who are standing in passive positions don't get flagged offside, thus gaining an advantage on the defence and 5 seconds later smash the ball in to the net.

See offside, a simple rule. Hmmmm.

Oh and if you take your shirt off whilst the game is on you get a yellow card. Get two of these and they send you off. Everyone knows this and yet players still insist on taking off their shirts to celebrate goals...And then get sent off. What's dumber, the rule or the players?

The Offside Rule Explained

Crazy Ice Hockey Rules

Ice Hockey
Ice Hockey

Unsportsmanlike Behaviour - If you are deemed the Instigator (starter) of a fight in an ice hockey match, you will not only receive a penalty for starting the fight, you will also receive a second penalty for unsportsmanlike behaviour if you are wearing a face shield whilst fighting. If you take the face shield off the unsportsmanlike penalty won’t apply.

Delay of Game Penalty - If the fans of the home team throw objects on to the ice, a delay of game penalty will be awarded against the home team. This rule is waived if they throw hats on to the rink when a ‘hat-trick’ is scored.

Ice Hockey Gear - A game breaks out during a fight

Mylec Jr. Hockey Goal Set, White
Mylec Jr. Hockey Goal Set, White

Need some gear to legally start a fight, or as some parts of the world call it, "A Hockey Match"?


What Crazy Sports Rules Do You Know Of?

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    • Otto Phillips profile image

      Otto Phillips 

      5 years ago

      Offside on Soccer makes sense if you've played it before. The "Tuck" rule in football baffles me to no end.

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Carashops: Like baseball..just goes on for about 5 days lol.

    • Carashops profile image


      5 years ago

      I understand the off-side rule, but cricket baffles me.

    • CoolFool83 profile image


      5 years ago

      I had no idea on some of these rule. I definitely learned something, especially being a big sports fan. Really nice lense!

    • deforst profile image


      6 years ago

      I knew of the LBW in cricket and the offside in football but the rest is really a mystery to me!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      I didn't until reading this. So interesting!


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