15 Biggest Sports Controversies of All Time

POSTED BY , UPDATED ON February 11th, 2015


7. Penn State Child Sex Abuse

Penn State Child Sex Abuse

Perhaps the most horrific sports scandal involving innocent children is the Penn State child sex abuse scandal in which the Penn State Nittany Lions’ former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was charged and convicted of his unthinkable acts.

Heartbreaking how scandals reach out even to the college level of football as the Penn State football program was heavily condemned. Though he was charged for the numerous sexual assaults since 1994 to 2009, it is believed that Sandusky had been doing it since the 1970s.


6. Black Sox Scandal

black sox scandal

The 1919 World Series is one of the most talked about events in sports history. The occasion showcased unprofessionalism at its best as the Chicago White Sox intentionally lost to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for handsome amounts of money from underground gamblers.

Following an investigation, eight of the Chicago White Sox were trialed. Acquitted but shunned, they were banned for life from playing professional baseball.


5. 1972 Olympic Men’s Basketball Final

1972 Olympic Men’s Basketball Final

Basketball is one of the most admired and seriously taken sports in America. As a matter of fact, the United States Men’s Basketball team successfully won every single game held in the Olympics between the 1936 and the final match in 1972.

The streak was broken by mismanagement of a referee who added three seconds on the official clock – just the right amount of time the opposing team of Soviet Union needed to win by one point. To this day, the US team has refused to accept their silver medals from the game.


4. Pete Rose’s Gambling

Pete Rose Gambling

As amazing as it sounds, Pete Rose has won Rookie of the Year Award, three batting titles, two Gold Gloves, one MVP Award and three World Series rings among various others. Surely a player of his stature deserves an induction in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Evidently, he does not since he is banned from it due to his involvement in gambling. Known as the biggest Baseball controversy, Rose gambled on countless games as a player and manager as well. Denying the claims for years, Rose admitted the accusations but stated that he never betted against his own team.


3. Tiger Woods’ Infidelity

Tiger Woods’ Infidelity

Regarded as the most gifted golfer of his time, Tiger Woods simply dominated his sport and was once among the highest-paid athletes in the world. Winning championships time and time again, Woods was on the cover of almost every sports magazine due to his success.

The media coverage continued but for all the wrong reasons when Woods, a father of two, was revealed to be having extra-marital affairs with more than a dozen women. The marriage soon ended in a messy divorce and the spotlight was never the same for the once admired golfer.


2. Lance Armstrong Doping Case

Lance Armstrong Doping Case

Winning seven consecutive Tour de France titles between 1999 and 2005 was just another day for the American road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong. However, as his career grew, so did the allegations of doping against him.

After several years of denying that he relied on pills in order to win prestigious championships, United States Anti-Doping Agency proved that Armstrong indeed took them and the reputation of the once-famed athlete went down the train as he was stripped from all his titles and banned from cycling for life.


1. O.J. Simpson Murder Case

O.J. Simpson Murder Case

Admitted that the biggest sports scandal of all time has nothing to do with sports at all, it will still be injustice to let the notorious murder trial of former NFL Running back O.J. Simpson go unmentioned.

It was one of the most unbelievable moments of television when police chased Simpson for a considerable amount of time after being accused of the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Once caught, the former NFL player was involved in a much publicized nine month trial only to be acquitted despite several evidences against him.


Dishonourable Mentions

Our list of the biggest sports controversies of all time can’t be completed without mentioning these sports scandals too:

  • Mike Tyson’s Bite Fight
  • New Orleans Saints Bounty Program
  • SMU Death Penalty

Feel free to share any of the biggest scandals in sports that we missed in the comments below!