15 of the Biggest Scandals in Sports History

Whenever Scandals in Sports happen, they have the potential to become huge due to professional athletes’ place in society and the fact that they are role models for young kids. How magnified these scandals in sports are also depends on the severity of whatever it is happened.

Scandals in Sports range from cheating, doping, match-fixing, gambling, and controversial calls by officials, to name few. Some of the most controversial events in Sports History can even make waves for things to happen in the personal lives of famous sports figures too.

Please note that the placement for all of the Scandals in Sports is not a ranking of the least controversial to the most controversial. These 15 big Scandals in Sports History are listed in no particular order.

Now, with all of that being said, take a look down below and check out 15 of the Biggest Scandals in Sports History:

1. The 1919 Black Sox Scandal:

Although this controversy happened a little over 100 years ago, The 1919 Black Sox Scandal is still considered by many as one of the biggest Scandals in Sports History. This scandal took place during the 1919 World Series, which was played between The Chicago White Sox and The Cincinnati Reds.

Eight members of The White Sox (see the photo below) were charged with intentionally losing the 1919 World Series against The Reds in exchange for money from the famous New York City mobster Arnold Rothstein. All eight White Sox Players were permanently banned from the sport, a ruling that disqualifies them for consideration for the MLB Hall of Fame. Despite this ruling, another issue that many debate about The 1919 Black Sox Scandal is the extent of Joe “Shoeless” Jackson’s involvement.

15 of the Biggest Scandals in Sports History

2. The Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics Sex Abuse Scandal:

One of the more recent Scandals in Sports History, the Larry Nassar (see the photo below) and USA Gymnastics Sex Abuse Scandal is one that horrified people around the world. Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics Women’s National Team Doctor who also practiced medicine at Michigan State, sexually abused more than 250 women and at least one man under the guise of “medical treatment”. The majority of his victims were minors and included many Olympic and United States National Women’s Gymnastics Team Gymnasts, as well as several Michigan State Student-Athletes. 

During his infamous trial, where more than 150 of his victims, including Olympic Gold Winning Gymnasts Jordyn Wieber and Aly Raisman, read their powerful victim impact statements, Nassar received several life sentences. Nassar had been sexually abusing athletes for decades and his trial shined a light on how USA Gymnastics prioritized medals over morals. Given that 2020 is an Olympic Year, the USA Gymnastics Sex Abuse Scandal will be one of the most discussed subjects during the 2020 Summer Games.

15 of the Biggest Scandals in Sports History

3. Spygate:

The first of two huge Scandals in Sports involving the New England Patriots to be featured in this article, the New York Jets filed a complaint to the NFL stating that the Patriots had filmed their defensive coordinators’ signals during a game from an unauthorized location. An NFL Investigation revealed that Patriots indeed filmed the Jets’ defensive signals.

Despite Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick’s (see the photo below) claims of misinterpreting the rules, NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell fined Belichick $500,000 and stripped the team’s first-round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. However, Spygate wouldn’t be the last time that the Patriots would be involved in one of the most talked-about Scandals in Sports History.

15 of the Biggest Scandals in Sports History

4. The Houston Astros Sign Stealing Scandal:

Of all the Biggest Scandals in Sports History to be featured on this list, The Houston Astros Sign Stealing Scandal is the most recent one to occur. An MLB Investigation released in January 2020 (after years of complaints from other MLB teams) revealed that The Astros used technology to steal signs from opposing teams and had an elaborate system (the photo below is a visual image of how the system worked) set up to alert Astros hitters what kind of pitch was coming from the pitchers of opposing teams during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Cheating in all regards is a disgrace and what makes The Houston Astros Sign Stealing Scandal one of the largest Scandals in Sports History is the fact that The Astros were able to cheat their way to winning the 2017 World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers. As a result of the MLB’s findings, several people have lost their jobs and some of the apologies made by members of the Astros’ 2017 World Series Winning Team were panned by many on other MLB teams.

The scandal dominated the 2019–2020 offseason and the start of 2020 spring training as players and managers of other MLB Teams openly expressed their anger about the whole ordeal. MLB Fans even called for The Astros to be stripped of their 2017 World Series Title and for it to be given to the Dodgers. The fallout of the Houston Astros Sign Stealing Scandal is still brewing and even being compared to the 1919 Black Sox Scandal (See #1 Above) as one of the worst scandals in sports history and the worst in baseball history.

15 of the Biggest Scandals in Sports History

5. Penn State Child-Abuse Scandal:

The Penn State Child-Abuse Scandal involved former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky (Center in the photo below), who was charged and eventually convicted on 45 of 52 accounts of sexual abuse of male children for 15 years. Sandusky groomed his victims through his charity, The Second Mile and ultimately received a jail sentence for 30-60 years. Several Penn State officials were involved in covering up the crimes and the university was fined $60 million.

15 of the Biggest Scandals in Sports History

6. The Disgrace of Gijón:

One of the most controversial Scandals in Sports and FIFA World Cup History took place during the group stage game between West Germany and Austria during the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain. The match was the last one of Group 2, and since Algeria already beat Chile 3-2 in their game the day before, both European teams knew what result they each needed in order to qualify for the next round: A West German win by one or two goals would see both West Germany and Austria advance, a West German win by three goals or more would see West Germany and Algeria advance, and a draw or an Austrian win would eliminate West Germany.

The result of the match between West Germany and Austria resulted in a 1-0 win for the former and both teams advancing to the knockout stage at the expense of Algeria. Both West Germany and Austria were accused of match-fixing as the former scored the game’s only goal in the first ten minutes and the remaining 80 minutes featured few scoring attempts from both teams.

When fans of both teams attending the game realized what was going on, they starting jeering. An Austrian Soccer Commentator was so disgusted that he even advised live on the air for viewers to turn off their TVs. The match between West Germany and Austria is the reason why the final group stage match for all teams in each group at the FIFA World Cup are played simultaneously to ensure no repeat of The Disgrace of Dijón.

7. Deflategate:

Along with Spygate, the New England Patriots are also involved in another one of the largest scandals in sports history, with this one being known as Deflategate. The Patriots were accused of deliberately under-inflating their footballs during the 2015 AFC Championship Game, which they won in a _ blowout win over the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots would end up being victorious in The 2015 Super Bowl over the Seattle Seahawks.

Following an NFL Investigation, The Patriots were fined $1 million and stripped of their first-round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and their fourth-round draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. In addition, Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, whose knowledge of the footballs being deflated is constantly debated, was suspended for four games.

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