|Readers' list: Worst sports scandals|
From the Page 2 mailbag
Nothing's better than a good scandal to get sports fans fired up.
So after we offered our choices for the 10 worst sports scandals of all-time, we asked you to send us your suggestions. Page 2 readers responded with nearly 400 e-mails, and below are the top 10 choices. Vote in the poll at the right for your top choice.
1. 1919 Black Sox Scandal (93 letters)
At the time, baseball was the greatest thing going in America. There were no other professional sports, and college football, though wildly popular, didn't yet hold a candle to Americans' fascination with baseball. The scandal stunned America, and cost the nation what innocence it may have had left after World War I. No sports scandal has ever had as profound effect on the national psyche as the crushing blow of the White Sox of 1919.
More than 80 years later people still debate it. Did Shoeless Joe take the money? Should Buck Weaver have been barred from the game? Every time I go to a Reds game at Cinergy Field and see the 1919 World Championship banner, I can't help but think about what happened all those years ago ...
2. Soviet Union beats United States in 1972 men's Olympic basketball final (82 letters)
The USA had won every single game between 1936 and the 1972 final. And the USA would have won that game, too, if it weren't for a British FIBA official telling the timekeeper to put three seconds back on the clock. It seems FIBA had to cheat in order to give another country the gold medal.
It's just too bad that the Soviet Union broke up in 1991 -- I was hoping the Dream Team would have wiped the floor in 1992 against the Soviets to get revenge in Barcelona on their Communist butts for what happened in Munich.
There was no way that the U.S. men should have lost the gold, and only a scam as big as the biased referees could possibly hand the title to the Soviet Union. I was not even alive for those Olympic games, but every replay I've seen of the last few seconds of the game angers me. It's not even a measure of national pride -- it's the fact that, of all athletic competitions, the Olympics are supposed to be fair. More than any other event, the game proved that anything, no matter how sacred, could be corrupt ted.
The robbery of the U.S. team by the refs makes Winona Ryder's shopping habits look like child's play.
3. SMU Football receives the "death penalty" (42 letters)
While it did not end up influencing future NCAA policy that much, it pretty much buried the football program at SMU, which enjoyed constant success along the same level as a school like Syracuse does today. The football program at SMU (alumni include Doak Walker and Eric Dickerson) has dropped off the national radar screen and may never reach the level it once did.
How could you not list the SMU Mustangs getting the death penalty? I mean, the Texas governor gave his OK to pay players. The perennial powerhouse disappeared from the face of football. Even worse, I have to hear about it all the time from my wife and mother-in-law, both of whom are SMU grads.
I remember being 12 years old and watching this on TV and being outraged because the judges gave the decision to Park, just to make sure that there wasn't another "incident" like there was in the earlier fight. Probably the worst sports moment I've ever watched on TV. I still to this day wonder if Park can ever convince himself that he deserved that medal?
Honestly, has there ever been an instance where you said, "Wow, this guy is getting destroyed." Only to see him win?
What happened to the Canadian skaters was nowhere even close. Roy Jones Jr. absolutely dominated that fight.
5. Pete Rose betting-on-baseball scandal (33 letters)
He should, however, be recognized in the Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a player, while noting his lifetime banishment for betting on baseball. To this day, ESPN has never covered a bigger story.
6. Danny Almonte Little League age scandal (26 letters)
What could be worse than defrauding a child to gain an unfair advantage and beat up on a bunch of kids? The part that hurts the most is that we really believed in this kid. We thought he was the future of baseball, the next Randy Johnson, the representation of all that is good and pure about the U.S. pastime. But it was all a sham. We were had by Danny's father and the team coach. Sure he's good, but we were led to believe he was something he's not.
In a situation like this, everybody loses. And if Little League Baseball is no longer a sanctuary of innocence and sportsmanship, then what is?
You're supposed to wait until you're already in the major leagues before people find out you've been lying about your age. Everyone knows that.
7. Skategate I, starring Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan (14 letters)
It is funny though, that Kerrigan got silver and Harding did terrible. No wonder she needed to eliminate Kerrigan.
8. University of Minnesota hoops academic cheating scandal (eight letters)
9. 1993 Florida State football "free shoes" scandal (six letters)
10. Jim Thorpe loses his pentathlon and decathlon Olympic gold medals (five letters)
If Thorpe's medals had not been stripped, he would have had a more illuminating legacy and would have certainly opened the door for a greater number of American Indians to achieve their dreams. The message that was sent at the time was heard loud and clear: American Indians will not be allowed to win, even when they're the best.
Perhaps our country would have had a Lakota Nobel Prize winner, a Sioux World War II general, or a Cherokee congressman had Thorpe gotten the respect he deserved. Instead, white America chose to stain his image and paint him as a "cheater," merely because the man played a few games of minor-league baseball.
Olympic athletes armed with agents and multimillion dollar contracts are now revered. Go figure.
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