11 Strange Things That Have Been Banned in Sports
The reason NHL players can't tuck in their jerseys, why pro basketballers aren't allowed to tweet at certain times, and other perfectly normal behaviors that are prohibited in the sports world, explained.
Players can’t: Tuck in their jerseys
In 2013, the NHL debuted this bizarre rule alongside several other stipulations about hockey players’ uniforms. “Rule 9.5” states that “players are not permitted to tuck their jersey into their pants in such a manner where the top padding of the pant…is exposed outside the jersey.” If the top padding of any player’s pants is not covered by the back of the jersey, that player can be sent to the penalty box. Since “tucking in your shirt” seems rather out-of-place among other hockey offenses like fighting and stick-checking, this rule has fans and players alike raising their eyebrows. The NHL has cited “safety reasons,” but some players and fans have speculated that the NFL is planning on putting advertisements on the back of their jerseys, advertisements that they’ll want unobstructed. Here are some more unusual things that are banned in the United States.
Players can’t: Use asthma inhalers
Multiple sports organizations have banned the use of inhalers, including the NFL and the NBA. While many people genuinely need inhalers to combat asthma and shortness of breath, the powers-that-be worry that non-asthmatic athletes will use them to boost their lung capacity and endurance. This provides an unfair advantage, especially in sports like swimming, where increased lung capacity is a huge asset. If an athlete does need an inhaler, the dosage and the type of inhaler must comply with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency‘s regulations. If you’re not a fan of Super Bowl Sunday, here are some alternative things you can do besides watching the game.
Players can’t: Tweet
It’s no secret that professional athletes have social media accounts. But in the NBA, players are not allowed to use social media during games, in addition to the 45 minutes before and after the games. One might argue that this ban is a little unsuited to today’s digitally-driven world. Others might say that pro athletes have enough notoriety and can stand to stay off their phones for a few hours. Whatever your opinion, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is on board. “We’re coming to work and we’re coming to get a job done. That’s not time for social media,” he told ESPN.
Players can’t: Sign autographs
Well, under certain circumstances. It’s perfectly acceptable for a college athlete to put their John Hancock on a fan’s merchandise…unless that fan offers them money for it. Because of the ease with which fans and merchandizers can monetize autographs, though, the whole practice has become controversial in college athletics. A few players have gotten in legal trouble, and even suspended from play, in the last few years for allegedly taking cash in exchange for signatures. This has led some schools to prohibit their players from signing autographs completely. Learn some secrets a high school sports coach won’t tell you.
Players can’t: Salute
The NFL has cracked down on certain player celebrations recently, especially ones that could be seen as a “taunt” toward other players. You’d think a salute would be one of the harmless ones, but apparently not. If a player salutes in the direction of another player, it could be seen as “disrespectful” and earn him an “unsportsmanlike conduct” penalty. Touchdown-scorers will just have to keep their hands to themselves, it seems. They are, however, allowed to salute the fans. Here are some surprising behaviors you didn’t know were considered rude around the world.
Players can’t: Spin footballs
As many football aficionados know, many players who’ve just scored touchdowns will channel their inner basketball player and twirl the ball in the end zone. In 2013, though, the NFL announced more stringent regulation of touchdown celebrations like this one. And the crackdown on spinning is not the only ball-related ban that plagues football stars. They also can’t “dunk” the ball over the goal posts, or “spike” it in the direction of another player. Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots learned this “spiking” rule the hard way in 2011, when he got fined $7,500 after his spiked ball got a little too close to a Jets linebacker. For more football fun facts, check out these things you never knew about the Super Bowl.
Players can’t: Take off their shirts
This may not seem quite as strange as not being allowed to tuck it in, but still seems like an odd thing to ban outright. In 2003, FIFA prohibited soccer players from removing their jerseys to celebrate scoring a goal. This was partly because bare torsos are considered offensive among some of FIFA’s worldwide viewership, but the primary reason has to do with—you guessed it—advertising. Some sponsors were unhappy that the cameras were showing shirtless players in lieu of their logos. Many viewers mourned the impending loss of eye candy, but the rule hasn’t stopped some players from shedding their shirts. Check out these ridiculous requirements for cities that host the Super Bowl.
Players can’t: Display logos
With all the drama over advertisers wanting more visibility for their logos, this rule comes as a bit of a surprise. In the NBA, players are not allowed to display logos anywhere on their person, except for their shoes. New York Knicks player Iman Shumpert learned this rule the hard, and rather embarrassing, way when he shaved part of his hair to look like the Adidas logo. The NBA enforced Item 5 of Section H of the NBA rule book’s “extended comments,” which says that “The only article bearing a commercial ‘logo’ which can be worn by players is their shoes.”
Shumpert had to eliminate the trademarked imagery, leaving him with a bald triangle on the back of his head. He was a good sport about it, though, and shared a before-and-after Instagram photo with the caption “#banned…sry @nba.” Here are some more unusual things that have been banned around the world.
Players can’t: Use too much pine tar
You may have seen baseball players going up to bat and smacking that gooey copper-colored stuff on their bats to improve their grip. The technical name for the stuff is pine tar, and its use in baseball is controversial. Batters are allowed to use this grip-enhancing goo; they just can’t cover more than 18 inches of their bats with it. This rule came into the public consciousness in 1983, when the ominously named “Pine Tar Incident” resulted in the negation of a two-run home run. After Kansas City Royal George Brett hit a two-run homer against the New York Yankees, the Yankee manager called him out for having too much pine tar on his bat. The umpire sided with the manager, and Brett’s double run was instead declared an out.
Spectators can’t: Booze it up
Who here loves kicking back at a live sporting event, grabbing a cold beer, and watching the game? If you do, you’ll be disappointed if you ever decide to catch a soccer match in Brazil. Since 2003, the sale of alcohol has been prohibited in an effort to curtail fans getting out of hand. This ban may not be permanent, though, and indeed, it’s already been temporarily overturned. In 2014, when Brazil hosted the FIFA World Cup, the FIFA General Secretary said that selling alcohol at World Cup games was nonnegotiable. A bill went into effect that allowed the ban to be lifted during the month of the World Cup. Watch out for these things you should never say in a sports bar.
Spectators can’t: Toot their own horns
One of the most notorious bans in recent sports history has to be the outright prohibition of “vuvuzelas.” When you attend a sporting event, big, noisy crowds are inevitable, especially at one of the biggest sporting events in the world, the FIFA World Cup. But when fans at the 2010 World Cup began trumpeting on these plastic horns that produced a sound akin to a swarm of buzzing bees, FIFA decided that a line had been crossed. According to the Telegraph, the flimsy-looking trumpet produced a sound louder than a chainsaw, and FIFA was concerned that it might damage spectators’ hearing, or even endanger their safety by drowning out announcements in the stadium. In time for the 2014 World Cup, FIFA issued a ban on vuvuzelas and all other musical instruments. Next, check out some more surprising things that aren’t allowed in sports stadiums.