For every sport, there are certain rules and regulations that all athletes need to abide by in a bid to make it more of a level playing field; it’s what makes the game more organized and somewhat fair for both parties involved.
In most cases of sports governing bodies like the FIA, which oversees motorsports and racing, or the NYSAC, which oversees combat sports like boxing and MMA, the rules and regulations are so intricate and detailed that it’s difficult to wrap your head around them. This is why there are professional referees present on the field to ensure that these rules are adhered to.
However, as much as these rules help keep the games fun and competitive, there are some examples of regulations that can be eyebrow-raising, which critics of a particular sport might find amusing or downright bizarre.
Tennis – No Dropping of Hats
In tennis, accidentally dropping your hat is no excuse – unlike other sports, if you accidentally drop your hat in a tennis game, it’s a big deal. According to the rules, if you’re in a middle of a match and your hat falls off, the other player can call the service let, which is what happens when the ball hits the net and lands on the service court. Officials are pretty strict on this infraction as it is regarded as a distraction for the opposing side.
This is exactly what happened in 2012 during the United States Open; Andy Murray’s hat dropped as he was throwing a drop shot on opponent Tomas Berdych. The latter claimed he had been distracted and mentally caught off guard by the hat, even though the replay showed he was nowhere near the ball during the time. The rivalry between the two competitors was pretty infamous amongst tennis fans which meant the Czech didn’t let up that easily and somehow convinced the officials to replay the point, which he eventually won.
Polo – No Left-Handed
As discriminatory as this next regulation sounds against left-handed people, the rulebook justifies it as a safety precaution; the lengthy United States Polo Association Rule Book, which is 200 pages more than the NFL’s, states that players must only hold their mallets with their right hands so as to avoid jousting-like instances, which can be a result of two players using different hands to play.
Basketball – No Dunks Before the Actual Game
According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Rule 4-1, dunking is not allowed 20 minutes before the game begins. Note that the players are usually warming-up at this point, so basically this rule is something that really needs to be kept in mind at all times.
This was what happened with the Kansas State when one of its players dunked just two seconds after the time started running, talk about strict imposition! As a result, the other team automatically got 1 point without even sweating. Other technicalities that would guarantee to become violations would be lifting other players, smoking and bringing tobacco and stealing a free throw.
Fencing – No Leaving of Piste While Officials Deliberate
Perhaps the best example of this instance was back in 2012 during the match of South Korean Shin Al-lam and German Britta Heidemann, one of the biggest sports controversies in history. A technical blunder left Shin on the side-lined on the piste for 30 minutes, as her coach protested the officials’ decision and challenged it.
Unfortunately, the arguments presented by her coaches were not enough to sway the referee and the officials’ decision was upheld, much to the jubilation of the opposing side. The player was clearly in tears as her team tried to appeal again, which meant she had to wait even longer at the piste since leaving would automatically mean a forfeit. Shin would remain sitting for more than an hour while her team tried to talk with the officials but to no avail. Still bawling her eyes out, she was escorted out of the arena.
Rubbing salt into the wound, Shin also lost the bronze medal match, however, she was awarded a special medal by the International Fencing Federation which she declined because she did not agree with the official rulings and standings announced by the judges. Ouch.
Baseball – No Catching The Ball With a Hat
Contrary to what we have come to see in sitcoms and films, it is forbidden to catch a ball with a hat, as per the Major League Baseball Rule 7.05. That’s not the only infraction in the rulebook too; players cannot use either their mask or anything detached from their uniforms to catch a ball, a violation that would award the opposing side with the advancement of three bases.