As much as you might hate them, sports are nothing without rules and laws. They’re an essential part of every game, ensuring that everyone plays fairly and no team or player has an unfair advantage. Could you imagine a game of soccer or basketball without any rules at all? It would descend into absolute chaos!
Some rules are very clear and easy for everyone to understand. You only need to watch the sport for a few minutes to pick them up. For example, in soccer, when the ball crosses the sidelines it has to be thrown in by the opposing team. In tennis, the ball has to land within a certain zone to be counted as ‘in.’
Nevertheless, many sport’s rules are a bit more complex. Well, to be honest, they’re just a little bit confusing and bizarre! These are the rules that spectators struggle to get their heads around, and a lot of them simply make no sense. So, today’s post will bring you a list of some of the strangest rules in sports that should probably be re-written at some point!
The Hat Rule – Tennis
Technically, there isn’t actually a rule in the tennis handbook called this. It’s more of an overall hindrance rule, but the hat part of it is probably the most bizarre. Effectively, there’s a rule that your opponent can negate the point if they are distracted by something that you have done.
The most common example of this is if a tennis ball falls out of your pocket. This makes sense, seeing as having a tennis ball rolling around on the court is clearly a distraction.
However, the rule also extends to instances where your hat falls off your head. If this happens, the opponent can technically stop play and ask for the point to be replayed. The problem with this rule is that it makes absolutely no sense at all! If your hat falls off, surely it’s more of a hindrance to yourself than your opponent? You have to deal with it on your side of the court – it won’t make a difference to their game. Also, if you were in the middle of a tough point, couldn’t you technically just loosen your hat and let it fall off, forcing the umpire to replay the point?
The Offside Rule – Soccer
Whether you call it soccer or football, everyone knows what you’re talking about when you bring up the offside rule. Or, more accurately, they know of the rule, but don’t understand how it works. This is one of the main tests of footballing knowledge amongst fans – if you know the offside rule, you can claim to be a proper fan.
In essence, this rule was created to stop attacking players from ‘goal hanging’ and lingering next to the opponent’s goal. The simplest way to explain the rule is that there needs to be at least one outfield defending player between an attacker and the goal when the ball is played. Or, the attacker has to be behind the ball if no defenders are in sight.
Anyway, you might wonder why this is a bizarre rule. It makes sense to have it in place, the problem lies with how utterly nonsensical the technical wording is. A player can be offside because their nose is in front of the last defender. Or, if a tiny part of their foot is in front, they’re offside. It’s led to some absurd VAR moments where cameras are zooming in on two bodies and trying to figure out if the attacker is half an inch ahead of the defender or not. In reality, the whole rule can be changed to make it more obvious if someone is offside or not.
Fighting – NHL
If you have never watched an ice hockey match in your life, it will be quite an event for you. The North Americans love their ice hockey, and the NHL is one of the biggest sports leagues in the world. There are loads of rules within the game, but the one revolving around fighting is the weirdest.
In professional ice hockey matches, players fight all the time. To the point where NHL video games have fighting mechanics built into them! A quick Google search will bring you thousands of results for the most brutal fights in NHL history, proving that it’s a huge part of the game. The weird thing is that fighting is technically allowed but not allowed. You’re obviously allowed to fight, as there is no rule prohibiting it, but it’s also not formally recognized as part of the sport.
When you fight in the NHL, you receive hardly any penalties or fines compared to other sports. It is completely bonkers, but the governing body obviously knows that fighting pulls in a lot of viewers. So, they haven’t introduced any rules that will strictly prohibit it.
Speed Boost – Formula E
Formula E is kind of like F1, only the cars are electrically powered. Now, this isn’t just great for the environment, it’s also great for introducing some whacky rules. Most notably, there’s a super weird rule where fans can go on an app and vote for their favourite driver in the race. The top three drivers will then get a speed boost injected to their vehicles.
Yep, you read that right! Drivers are basically given an extra boost of power based on how popular they are. It leads to some very intriguing developments in the sport, almost encouraging the drivers to be more involved with the fans. Still, you can’t help but wonder if this rule should exist – it’s not really fair, is it? Imagine losing a race because someone received a speed boost as the fans liked them more than you!
There you have it, some of the weirdest and most confusing rules in sport. By all means, there are many out there that we haven’t even touched upon. If you can think of strange rules from your favourite sport, feel free to leave them down below!