When the unwritten rules of sports get broken, controversy can ensue

Curtis Manlapig, Editor-in-Chief

All sports have sets of rules that are not written down and seldom spoken of, they are universally understood.  These are known as, “the unwritten rules of sports.”

They are guidelines that are only brought up in certain situations and have both positive and negative effects although mostly negative.

Baseball, with all its superstitions, is the sport where these rules are followed and broken the most. Intentionally hitting the team’s best player when the opposing pitcher did the same in the previous inning and not talking about a perfect game or no hitter are common examples in baseball.

But recently at the 2013 World Baseball Classic, a rule was broken that although had little effect on the game, involved a benches clearing brawl that led to fighting and unruly fans throwing things onto the field endangering everyone involved.

Canada and Mexico were in the top of the ninth inning with Canada up to bat leading by a score of 9-3. The batter squared around and bunted the ball down the third base line with no throw thus getting on first with a bunt single. The third baseman motioned to the pitcher to hit the next batter.

The pitcher made it clear he was going after the batter while unsuccessfully throwing at him with the first two pitches only to connect on the third which led to the benches clearing. Players started punching each other and melee ensued. The fans also got into the act by throwing a bottle that ended up hitting a Team Canada coach in the face and a baseball that nearly hit the first base coach.

This all could have been avoided from a written rule by the WBC that involved a tiebreaker scenario.

In most tiebreaker scenarios, the first tiebreaker is a head to head matchup where the team that won the game gets the advantage. But in the WBC, a three way tie, which at the time Mexico, Canada and USA could have ended up in, the team that advances is the team that had the best run differential thus promoting teams to score as many runs as they can.

Rules should be placed to set up good sportsmanship where teams that win, advance, and it should not matter how many runs get scored.

Not only do the unwritten rules of sports get broken in the professional ranks, but in college too.

A college basketball player, Jack Taylor, scored 138 points for Grinnell College in a Nov.20, 2012 game against Faith Baptist Bible College. The game ended 179-104 in favor of Grinnell but raised many questions.

Why did the coach keep Taylor in the game when clearly he was on a scoring rampage while running up the score against the other team?

It is hard to blame the player over this issue because the team kept passing him the ball but he did shoot over 100 shots leaving everyone to believe that the game plan revolved all around the one player. A common rule in basketball is to take out the starters and put in players who don’t play as often when a team is winning by a lot. Taylor played nearly the whole game while scoring a staggering amount of points. The coach is at fault.

How can one explain winning a game by 75 points, was being up 50 not enough. Running up the score while the star players are on the court is a big no-no in the world of sports and needs to be ceased.

So many examples are made on the field, but there have been moments that affect sports off the field.

There have been betting and match fixing that negatively affects sports.  Pete Rose is one of the greatest hitters in baseball history but as a manager, he bet on games which then ask the question of whether or not he fixed games for his own gain.

Unfortunately, referees have also affected games. Tim Donaghy officiated the Kings/Lakers game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals where the Lakers shot 18 more free throws than the Kings, even though the Kings were dominating the game. The Lakers ended up winning and Donaghy years later was caught in a betting scandal for that game which ultimately led to Donaghy serving time in prison.

There will always be unwritten rules in sports but when players, coaches or officials decide to break them, think about the words everyone heard when they played youth sports, “play fair and strive to win.”