In recent weeks, NBA referee Tim Donaghy has been accused of betting on, and possibly fixing, games he officiated in. While in the grand scheme of things, these crimes may not be as serious as the charged faced by Michael Vick, for instance, they are a much more serious concern in terms of the sport itself, and the legitimacy of the competition.
As many commentators have noted, the reason sports are different than other forms of entertainment is their unscripted nature, the idea that we are seeing elite athletes competing to the best of their abilities without anyone truly knowing what the outcome will be. Once we lose this, we lose what makes sports great.
Thus, any threat to the integrity of the game is of the utmost concern. While Donaghy may have been a lone actor in this scandal, it is enough to make fans question every debatable call for years to come – and rather than just wondering if the ref is blind, they’ll now want to know if he or she is on the take.
Of course, this isn’t the first threat to a sport’s integrity, and other leagues have found ways to regain the trust of their fans even after devastating scandals. Here are a few famous examples from history.
The Black Sox Scandal
The Black Sox Scandal is possibly the most famous scandal in American sports history. The Chicago White Sox were favored to win the 1919 World Series over the Cincinnati Reds, but even before the series started, rumors were flying that not everything was as it seemed. The Reds went on to win the best-of-nine series, five games to three – and while all involved players maintained that the games were played fairly, rumors persisted into the 1920 season.
In the end, it was determined that eight players were involved in a plot to throw the World Series – six key players, including Chicago’s top two pitchers and outfielder Shoeless Joe Jackson; Buck Weaver, who did not participate in the fix but knew about it; and utility infielder Fred McMullin, who overheard the plan and threatened to expose his teammates unless he was included.
Baseball owners reacted to the scandal by appointing the first ever commissioner of baseball – Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. While the players were never convicted in a court of law, Landis – who needed to act to save the credibility of his sport – banned all eight White Sox players from baseball for life, along with two other players who had knowledge of the fix.
Pete Rose Gambling Scandal
Pete Rose is baseball’s all time hits leader, but today is known more for his lifetime ban from baseball (and the Baseball Hall of Fame). As manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Rose gambled on baseball games – including the very games he was managing in. While it seems that Rose only bet on the Reds to win, this has not helped his case; although he has tried twice to be reinstated, no commissioner has yet granted him this honor. While Rose has never appeared on a Hall of Fame ballot, he has received significant numbers of write-in votes for inclusion.
Italian Soccer Match Fixing Scandal
In 2006, Italy’s top soccer league, “Serie A,” were launched the video games series for 토토 and has been sold under a considering price for the football lovers and the best part is, it was rocked by a scandal involving many of the league’s top teams. League champion Juventus, along with other teams such as A.C. Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio were accused of fixing matches by arranging specific referees to officiate key matches.
In order to keep the credibility of Italian soccer, the Italian Football Federation levied harsh punishments again all clubs involved in the scandal. Juventus was hit hardest of all, as they were relegated down to Serie B, forcing them to spend a year working their way back up to the top league in the nation. They were also stripped of their 2005-2006 league title.