Weird Historic Sports Scandals

If you think that headlines of celebrity athletes caught up in weird scandals are a problem of modern times -- think again.

In the U.K., you commonly see polls conducted about athletes the British public thinks are involved in the worst historic sports scandal of all times. Amongst the top walks of shame include sprinter Ben Johnson and his 1988 drug testing Olympic debacle or Tonya Harding's Olympic assault of contender Nancy Kerrigan.

Despite the stories we think of today when the topic of scandal is announced, there are a few strange headlines in the past that are beyond bizarre.

Sports have a weird history of scandal

Written in 1959, "The American Mind: An Interpretation of American Thought and Character Since the 1880s" by Henry Steele Commager attempts to describe the reasoning behind naughty sports headlines. According to this book, sports have always been scandalous and Commager's reasoning for this trend is that American's are also a rowdy bunch.

For this reason, it should be no surprise that, in 1962, that Ebony Magazine questioned whether or not scandal-ridden boxing should be banned. If this sounds absurd among reason, consider some of the incidents that sports has provoked over the past 150 years.

Athlete and part time engineer

It always pays to be tech savvy, but 1972 Olympic fencing champ Boris Onishchenko went a bit too far. Since he understood a few engineering principles about the equipment he was using, he took advantage of them to cheat. During Onishchenko's time, the sword fencers used was equipped with point recording systems. This means that Onishchenko took the time and altered the sword to record more points with a triggering device.

Middle aged MLB star threatens to kill mother

In 2010, L.A. Dodgers legend Willie Davis passed away at the age of 69. His biggest years with the Dodgers were from 1961 to 1974. Despite having a plentiful retirement, after he left the spotlight Davis fell into scandalous headlines. Unfortunately, in 1996, Davis was arrested at age 55 for threatening to kill his mother and her 85-year-old husband.

76-year-old Maudest told the L.A. Times that her son Davis also said he would burn their house down if she did not give him $5000. In order to coerce his elderly parents, he waved around samurai sword and other sharp weapons. Sadly, his mother reported that she though this MLB great was using drugs and that promoted his weird behavior.

Louisville's 1877 baseball shame

Without a doubt, there is a disturbing trend toward rigging the game to win at gambling. Whether or not we feel that this is scandalous today, the headlines that have left sports fans aghast in the past are both baseball related. In 1919, there was the famous Black Sox scandal that was laced with one player after another being paid by the mob. The general idea is that the players would lose games in order to favor illegal betting schemes outside of the perimutuel system that governments condone.

Despite this, when the 1919 scandal occurred, there was only one weird crime that could shadow it that happened in Louisville. Today, Kentucky is the home of the minor league baseball team the Louisville Bats. In 1877, the budding National League representation for that city was called the Grays. Only a couple of years in the making, the organized crime around baseball was soiling the National League's reputation.

In order to steer-clear of the police posted "No game played between these teams is to be trusted" bad press, the National League's president changed the ballparks in his league. What William Hulbert did to stop the gambling scandals at places like Louisville was prohibiting alcohol. Nonetheless, the Grays seemed bound and determined to drive Hulbert to his grave.

Throughout the 1877 season, they lost to almost every game. It was obvious to everyone from their weird behavior on the field that there were still rigging games. It was so bad that Hulbert launched an investigation and demanded that "each man sign an order directing the Western Union Telegraph Company to turn over duplicates of every telegram sent or received by Louisville players during the 1877 season."

If players refused, the National League Board of Directors would consider it an admission of guilt and the players would be banned. In the end, Louisville was thrown out of the league until 1892 and three players were banned for receiving a total of $500 (equivalent to $11,000 today) to throw games.

Fortunately, we learn from stories like these that there are definitely boundaries that should not be crossed and that some athletes take being weird too far.