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Readers Share Their Most Hilarious—and Inspiring—Sports Stories

Updated: Jul. 14, 2023

Our readers share their sports stories, from the highlights that won trophies to the bloopers that won hearts

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These funny and inspiring sports stories are slam dunks

We all know a few inspiring sports stories. The 1980 Miracle on Ice. The Red Sox coming back to beat the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series (and, eventually, win the World Series). Underdog Rocky Balboa holding his own against Apollo Creed in Rocky. But there are everyday inspiring stories involving sports that will lift you up too—and even make you laugh! Need proof? Read through some heartfelt and funny tales about real-life sports incidents, submitted by our readers. And if you need more sporty motivation, browse through these sports quotes.

Young baseball player with back turned pointing at sky
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Who’s on first?

Trying to keep my Little Leaguers settled in the dugout was quite the task. I explained that the next batter up is called “on deck.” The batter after that is “in the hole.” If they weren’t on deck or in the hole, they had to sit down. One player kept asking what the batter after “in the hole” is called. I kept saying there was no name for that. He called those batters “IN THE WAY!” It was so funny, and that’s what we called it for the rest of the season. —Cheryl Stetz Bamert, Parsippany, NJ

Don’t forget to read about how one man donated his baseball card collection to a child after a wildfire.

Woman holding a wooden bat hitting a softball
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A swing and a miss

I played on a softball team with many rookies who’d never played before. One of my teammates hit a hard line drive. As she rounded first, we hollered, “Go to third!” And so she did—right across the pitcher’s mound. —Gail Valence, Henrietta, NY

This is far from the worst mistake in sports history—in fact, it’s pretty funny!

Figurine of an angel holding a soccer ball
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A Hail Mary play

When no one else stepped up, my husband volunteered to coach our son’s soccer team, despite having no knowledge of the sport. The boys went the entire season without scoring. Before the final game, one player told my husband, “At Sunday school this morning, I prayed to score a goal.” That game, the team scored their first goal ever! But they still lost 2–1. That same player said after the game, “I guess I should’ve prayed to win.” —Nancy Beasley, Portage, WI

Basketball balancing on a pointer finger
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And with the assist …

My daughter and her friend played on the high school basketball team. My daughter usually started, while her friend spent more time on the bench. One night, they burst through our front door. My daughter yelled, “I scored 20 points!” Her friend yelled, “And I jumped up and down a lot!” —Susan Shelley, Mesa, AZ

Ice hockey referee blowing whistle and pointing with hand
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Chippy chirping

My husband explained to our hockey-playing son that sometimes referees ask “Do you want this penalty or that one?” when players simultaneously commit two violations that have equal time penalties. It’s a way to point out that you saw both. The following week, our son was playing in a rough game and getting hit quite a bit. At one point, the referee asked, “Do you want the slash or the hook?” Frustrated, he replied, “Neither, since you missed the cross-check to my back!” He got five minutes in the penalty box for that remark. Moral of the story: Don’t respond to a ­multiple-choice question with a fill-in-the-blank answer. —Kris Pensabene, Mount Laurel, NJ

That has to be one of the funniest quotes we’ve heard from the ice!

Man holding a basketball with back turned and hand on hip
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Advice from the greats

My high school had a legendary basketball coach who retired just prior to my arrival. He still came to give us a pep talk before a big game against the best team in the state. He told us, “Those boys put their britches on the same way you do.” Inspired by his wisdom, we went out on the court and got beat like a drum. I saw the coach in the lobby after the game. He smiled and said, “I probably should’ve told you their britches were a lot bigger and moved faster than yours.” —Bobby Hart, Sanderson, FL

Girl reaching to catch a baseball with a baseball glove
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Stepping up to the plate

I coached my son’s Little League team. We lost every game until the last. In the final inning, we were in the field, ahead by one, with no outs and the bases loaded. The batter hit a line drive right to our third baseman. She stuck out her glove with one hand and covered her eyes with the other. The ball landed in her glove. She jumped up and down, stomping on third base to make the second out. Then she stuck out her glove to show me the ball, tagging the runner coming in—an unassisted triple play! Our team ran to the pitcher’s mound in celebration as if it were the World Series. —Robert Drozel, Exton, PA

Talk about a heartwarming story from the field!

Football player diving to catch a football
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First down—and then some

My brother Nick was an excellent halfback, and my dad often ­volunteered to work the first-down chains during his football games. Our team was down and the clock ticking when Nick got the handoff and broke free of the defense, charging down­field. Everyone was on their feet cheering. Caught up in the excitement, Dad ran down the sideline alongside Nick holding the chain pole above his head, yelling “Go, son, go!” The poor men on the other end of the chain just let go and started cheering too. Nick scored and ran to Dad for a big hug. The referee shook my dad’s hand, took the chain and politely told him his chain-holding days were over. —Josephine Everett, Walnut Creek, CA

Bowling ball knocking into four bowling pins
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My lucky strike

Years ago, I joined a bowling league. My score rarely broke 100, but one night I threw a ball that popped out of the gutter and knocked down all 10 pins. I was thrilled to have gotten a strike—until my teammates told me it didn’t count. When we had our awards dinner, I received an award for being the only person to ever get a gutter strike at that bowling alley. Even though it didn’t count, I still did something no one else had. —Lisa Harris, Shallotte, NC

Now that’s a good goal to set: Do something no one else has ever done.

Hand wearing a softball glove holding a softball
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Slightly off base

Before my 7-year-old daughter’s softball season started, I told her I wanted her to do two things: Have fun and get one player out. As the season was ending, she’d had a blast but she hadn’t made an out. Finally, a ground ball was hit to her, and I yelled, “First base! First base!” She stood and made a perfect throw—to second base. When she got back to the dugout, I asked why she threw to second. She said, “Dad, when I looked up, second was the first base I saw.” —Scott Burks, Salem, OR

Looking for more parenting-related laughs? Read these parent tweets that will crack you up.

Girl jumping in the air about to dunk a basketball
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When the going gets tough …

My daughter was very competitive growing up, but she was smaller than most kids, so I was always protective. Once, during an intense basketball game against an aggressive team, she got hit in the face pretty hard with the ball. From the second row, I jumped up to help her. She saw, pointed and yelled “No, Mom!” and played on. That was the day I learned she’d be just fine. —Kristine Berglund, Aledo, IL

Two hands holding a tennis racket
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Blood, sweat and veneers

When I coached high school tennis, there were never enough courts, so people were always waiting to play. One younger player passed time by tossing his racket back and forth from hand to hand. After some time, he asked for my help finding something—his tooth, which he’d knocked out when he hit himself in the face with the racket. Players from both squads were on their hands and knees searching the grass. No luck. The player said, “That’s OK, Coach. It was artificial. I knocked that same tooth out last year.” —Wayne Sanders II, Akron, OH

Woman looking at volleyball balanced on her head
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A heads-up play

The score was close and the end of our volleyball game near. I dived for a ball but pulled up when I saw another teammate already after it. She bumped it straight up in the air. I leaped to my feet but didn’t know where the ball was. Suddenly, the ball hit me—no joke—square on top of the head. It arched up into a perfect set that another teammate spiked over the net. We won the point and the game. —Susannah Reavis, Houston

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest