Of the 10 latest sports scams, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend is by far the most interesting based on the old journalism question, “Did you hear that …?” However, when it comes to the actual impact on society, this scam may be less significant than some of the others. Here are my top 10 most recent sports scams.
10. Ana Ivanovic and Sorana Cīrstea at the 2012 Rogers Cup
Tennis fans still hoping for a return of Ana Ivanovic to the top of the rankings questioned her effort when she did not win a game in the 2012 Rogers Cup, particularly when her buddy Sorana Cīrstea then did the same. Not many people watch the second round of the Rogers Cup, and there was not much impact, so we will use this as the benchmark for the least significant of the 10 most recent “scams.”
9. Auburn University Point Shaving
Auburn basketball had a scare last year when they were tipped off that point guard Varez Ward might be shaving points to get money for gamblers placing bets against Auburn. Basketball is the easiest sport in which a player can throw a game since–as the Boston College team of the late 1970s showed–you can score enough points to look like you are trying and undo it with misseds shots, turnovers and fouls. The team self-reported the crime.
8. Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley Split Decision
Accusations of biased judging have always been made, but the split decision that gave Tim Bradley the title from Manny Pacquiao and prevented a Pacquiao showdown with Floyd Mayweather had people talking and changed the destination of tens of millions of dollars.
7. Former Arkansas Football Coach Bobby Petrino Crashes Motorcycle While Riding with Female Assistant
The April 1 accident grew into a very interesting story when it turned out that he was not alone but had told the former female volleyball player to leave the scene. The fact that Petrino had used taxpayer funds at the university to pay her salary while having an affair may not have had huge ramifications beyond the Razorbacks having a disappointing football season.
6. Turkish Soccer Score Fixing
Americans could care less, but as far as actual impact, the fact that police arrested 60 people suspected of being involved in fixing soccer games, with one individual landing a five-year prison sentence, makes this scam significant. The 5-year sentence did turn to probation.
5. Steroids in Baseball
Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were denied admittance into the Hall of Fame because they are suspected of having used performance-enhancing drugs. This brought back more significant memories of when it appeared they might face jail time.
4. Manti Te’o’s Fake Girlfriend
Let’s face it, Manti Te’o’s fake girlfriend had to get by far the most “Did you hear that Manti Te’o’s girlfriend who did never existed!?” But, though he may drop in the draft and lose some money, there may not be that much of an impact on society. This is why this scandal may be less significant than some other scams.
3. NBA Referee Tim Donaghy
Last year, a blogger tried to revive the accusations by Tim Donaghy that NBA referees often fixed games by claiming NBA referee Greg Williard was throwing basketball games on which Floyd Mayweather had placed bets. The original story was huge, with Donaghy ending up in prison with a defense of claiming that other referees were cheating too. The new attempt was not that significant on it’s own, but it did have some significance reminding us of a true scam in sports.
2. Bountygate in NFL
The fact that New Orleans failed to make playoffs after Sean Payton, Jonathan Vilma and others were banned for the bounty system changed a lot of money, but it also made for interesting news as fans looked at tape of Brett Favre and other quarterbacks perhaps being taken out from past games.
1. Lance Armstrong
Overall though, Lance Armstrong’s doping is the most significant of the recent scam stories. The impact on his charity, his history of overcoming cancer, his sponsorships and his years of lying really cannot be topped as he goes down as the No. 1 scam story in true impact.