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12 Unusual Sporting Laws

March 13, 2017

Do you think you know everything about your favourite sports? Think again! The infographic takes a look at the 12 most obscure and unusual sporting rules in the business, some of which you’ve probably never even heard of! Frankly, I doubt the coaches and athletes were aware of them either.

Poor Andy Murray had to learn one particular rule the hard way; during the semi-final at the US Open in 2012, in a match against the Czech professional tennis player, Tomáš Berdych. Down 30-40, Murry’s hat blew off as he hit a lovely backhand drop shot which his opponent couldn’t reach in time. Berdych claimed he was distracted by Murray’s hat falling off his head. The rule states that if you start a point in tennis wearing your hat, you must finish it with the hat still in place. If it comes off during the point, then the point has to be replayed. Which is exactly what happened to Scottish world No. 1.

If you’ve watched the 2006 teen comedy-drama film Stick It, you’ll know about this next law. In USAG gymnastics, all undergarments, including bras and pants must be either nude or the colour of your leotard, otherwise, you’ll have a couple of tenths removed from your score, which in gymnastics, could mean the difference between a gold and silver. In the movie, the girls competing rebel against this absurd rule which disregards their talents by taking the power away from the judges and into their hands as they decide amongst them who should rightly win each event.

Getting its inspiration from Formula 1, Formula E is a new class of auto racing that uses only electric-powered cars. Never has a sport utilised social media to influence a competition. Formula E was conceived in 2012 and includes a rule which allows fans to use social media to increase a racer’s performance. In fact, the driver who gets the most mentions on Twitter during the race gets an extra boost of power to their electric motor. What are you waiting for? Get Tweeting!

It’s not unusual for sports to have specific dress codes, however, the Chess Union have taken things a bit too far! A woman can lose a game if she has too much cleavage on show. If her opponent complains, the judging panel must assess whether or not she is dressed appropriately for the match. During the European Women’s Championship in Turkey, women chess players in the tournament may only leave two buttons open on their blouse as they were being cat-called by spectators and coaches! Cat-calling in a chess match?! The world can really be an annoying place for women sometimes!

We all know that footballers will be penalised with a yellow card if they remove their shirts during a match. Well, did you know the rule applies in athletics too? Except that in athletics you’re disqualified instead of cautioned. French runner Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad removed his top in celebration on the home straight of the 3,000m steeplechase in the 2014 European Championships, only to see his gold medal taken away from him for the infringement. Harsh!

Baseball is a game full of rules, some strange ones too. Apparently, for the team batting, it’s a time to rejoice when the ball becomes lodged in the umpire’s mask. If this happens, then all the runners on the field will advance one base. The catcher has a hard enough job behind the plate as it is; he wears a lot of heavy equipment and gets hit in the face several times by foul balls. He also has to block a lot of fastballs that the pitcher throws into the dirt. This ridiculous rule adds insult to injury to the catcher. Thankfully, the pitcher isn’t allowed to spit on the ball anymore!

For more nonsensical sporting laws in water polo, show jumping, archery, cricket and beach volleyball, our infographic has it all!

About the author

Eric Roberts
Eric Roberts

Sports Journalist

Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.