View Full Version : 10 'Unwritten Rules' of sport...

07-20-2010, 02:00 PM
Interesting article in today's Sydney paper...


Broken an unwritten law? Then you'll be tried in the court of sporting opinion

Sport is full of unspoken boundaries - the trouble is, they're hard to police, writes Richard Hinds.

The problem with the unwritten rules of sport is that no one has bothered to write them down. Which is how you end up with the tit-for-tat squabble that beset the Tour de France on Monday. On the 15th stage, leader Andy Schleck's chain came adrift. Which would seem to leave him up the Pyrenees without a pushbike. Except there is an unwritten rule which, if written, would read: Do not attack a race leader who has suffered misfortune beyond his control such as a crash or mechanical problem. If this ''rule'' panders to the prejudices of those who believe there is a bit too much pleasant ambling through the French countryside in Le Tour, its sentiment underpins the honour and integrity of the race. Which is why Contador was booed as he put on the yellow jersey despite claiming he was unaware of Schleck's plight; why Schleck declared ''my stomach is full of anger'' and why the pair might end up settling the matter with bicycle pumps at 20 paces. So, to avoid further confusion, here are some of the unwritten rules of sport.
Many of the game's unwritten rules - don't bowl bouncers to tailenders, don't run two on a lame fielder's arm and even not Mankading - were expunged during the reigns of the ruthless West Indies and Australian teams. Don't run out an injured batsmen who is out of his crease, don't take an overthrow if the ball hits a batsman and don't take your mum's weight-loss pills.
Always kick the ball out when an opposition player is injured and it will be returned once he is on his feet. This almost caused confusion during the World Cup when the Dutch kicked the ball back to the Spanish goalkeeper, only for the Jabulani to swing wildly and almost go into the top corner of the net. If it had, would the Dutch have been obliged to concede an uncontested goal to square things up? It is unwritten.
Always concede the point if you have hit the ball on the double bounce - even if the umpire doesn't call it. You are also expected to wave a hand in faux-apology if you win a point on a let-cord. Pat Rafter tried to institute a similar apology when you fail to hit a serve because of a faulty ball toss - although, with so few Australians on tour, this has not caught on.
The sport has long-winded guidelines about etiquette, but some basic rules remain unwritten - don't walk on your opponent's putting line or make a noise when he is about to play. Seve Ballesteros was notorious for jingling coins in his pocket or ripping the velcro strip on his glove on an opponent's backswing, causing considerable tension during Ryder Cup matches. A recent update: don't simultaneously date more than three porn stars or cocktail waitresses.
The unwritten Gorden Tallis Rule: You can throw as many punches as you like while standing toe to toe with an opponent. The unwritten Jarryd Hayne Rule: A headbutt is a love tap before a State of Origin match.
It used to go without saying that you should not attack an injured player. Then a pack of Brisbane Lions set upon St Kilda's ailing Nick Riewoldt. So that law is now written - which is partly why the Saints' Steve Baker recently copped a seven-match ban after conducting an unofficial fitness test on Geelong forward Steven Johnson's broken hand.
In a tradition at odds with the trash-talking stereotype, Americans do not like humiliating opponents by ''running up the score''. Last year, Micah Grimes, coach of Covenant School in Dallas, was sacked after his girls' team beat Dallas Academy 100-0. Dominant teams are expected to ''dribble out the clock'' - with commentators then forced to do likewise.
Stealing bases when your team is winning by a big margin is a no-no. Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen ordered a pitcher to nail a Florida Marlins hitter after the Marlins had stolen bases while leading a game this season 7-0.