Artistic License Sports

Ain't no rules says a dog can't play basketball.

"Two minutes for... roping? That's a new one on me." note 
Announcer in D2: The Mighty Ducks (Lampshading the penalty that doesn't make sense)

There are many family movies and TV shows set around sports. There are also many times in media where sports is used as a backdrop or plot-point. When this happens, the writers will use the most basic terminology available, and often not even get that right. Most of the time, the sport or the rule that was abused is just out of reach of most of the viewing audience, but rest assured that some sports fanatic will find fault with it. The most basic fault is Loophole Abuse using a loophole that's actually closed... the TV says there Ain't No Rule, but the Real Life rulebook says there is.

See also Critical Research Failure. Gretzky Has the Ball is when this is done intentionally and in-universe. New Rules as the Plot Demands is the version of this trope for games that only exist in the work of fiction. If the news media gets its pop culture wrong, it's Cowboy Bebop at His Computer. In video games, if this is the theme of the entire level, you have Athletic Arena Level. Pac Man Fever is this trope with video games standing in for sports. Of course, it's impossible to make this mistake in a game of Calvinball.

Examples

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    Advertising 
  • A 2014 Mountain Dew commercial has a Dew-drinking show jumper attempting tricks as though the horse were a motorcycle. At the end, judges give him three zeros. Unfortunately, stadium show jumping is timed, not judged.
  • A 2013 commercial for McDonald's McRib sandwich had two fans of the McRib compare the awesomeness of it to crazy plays from American football, including "Running the Wishbone out of the I-Formation." The Wishbone isn't a play, it's a formation as well, so you can't run the one out of the other.
  • A 2013 Microsoft commercial has two baseball scouts scouting a pitcher while talking to their team's General Manager, one on an iPhone, the other on Windows. One asks "What's his E.R.A.?" the followed by "How about against lefties?" It's impossible to have an E.R.A. against lefties, because E.R.A is calculated as a rate of earned runs per 9 innings. Runs allowed have two components: batters getting base and then scoring as runners while another batter is hitting (who may or may not be left-handed) before three outs in an inning are recorded.
  • A 2014 Bud Light radio ad, tailored for NFL radio broadcasts in respective markets, had a named fan spending the '97 season of the local team calculating the perfect temperature at which to serve Bud Light. This was a problem in the Cleveland market, as the Browns did not have a 1997 season following the original team's move to Baltimore. That one was later changed to reference the '04 Browns season.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Even though it's a shonen series and thus we can expect liberties with everything, but the portrayal of American Football in Eyeshield 21 is at times just plain wrong. Despite handwaving with comments like "American football is a violent sport", the referees should be showing up more than twice in the entire series. Still, it gets the basic rules right, especially under Japanese rules, which is more can be said for most examples on this page.
  • Even more so with The Prince of Tennis, aside from the gravity- and physics-defying shots the characters use.
  • Code Geass and Chess.
    • Most commonly, Lelouch likes to move his king out early, saying that if the king doesn't lead, the troops won't follow. Fine analogy, but such an incredibly bad chess strategy that it doesn't even fall under "difference of opinion" or "debatable."
    • The worst example has to be Schneizel putting his own king in check (and blatantly so: he moves it to the square right in front of Lelouch's king). This isn't just bad strategy, it's an illegal move.note  The in-story explanation seems to be Lelouch seeing this as Schneizel's win-win ploy to unnerve him - if he kept quiet about it, Schneizel would have the social upper hand, and if Lelouch called him out on it, he would look petty for doing so. Lelouch opts to move his own king out of check (putting Schneizel's out of check as well) in an attempt to Take a Third Option, but Schneizel claims that he still learned something important about Zero's character from the move.
  • Captain Tsubasa has a variation: while most of soccer/football's rules are respected, the players make impossible moves, and use strategies that are pathetic for anyone that understands the sport, all in name of the plot. The matches depicted on the show also have muuuuch more goals than real life's scores.
    • But then it comes an episode (in the Road to 2002 series) where the main focus is a referee that was, apparently, being unfair. The episode then takes a while to talk about referee's methods and other stuff... but then you stop to think about it - this is an anime that never gives a damn thing about referees. Characters are constantly getting severely injured in the middle of matches, sometimes in the most blatant ways, and nobody lifts a finger. All for the sake of awesome, sure, but sends the anime squarely into this trope.
    • There are more egregious examples. Sometimes players violently attack players of the opposite team without receiving any kind of punishment or only receiving a yellow-card. Have in mind we are not talking about faking a miscalculation and hitting your opponents on purpose (which happens in real life) but actually kicking them without holding back, sometimes even after being shouted by your coach/team captain/team partners to "break his leg". This in real life not only would get a red card, but it'd get you kicked from Soccer League, and probably get your team punished as well.
  • Parodied in Hayate the Combat Butler with beach volleyball. Hayate is worried because he doesn't know how to play, but Nagi tells him it's okay because the author has no idea either. So obviously, it ends with killer robots.
  • The Saki manga had one caused by an artist error: A panel showed Saki with 15 tiles in her hand, which is not legally possible in Mahjong. Strangely enough, the error made its way into the anime adaptation.
    • Crunchyroll's subtitles also demonstrated that the translators apparently didn't know how to play Mahjong, at least not the Riichi variant used in the series. The translation notes in the first episode alone had:
      • An incorrect definition of yaku as "special hands that are worth 1 fan [sic] (point doubling) each". Correct definition: Yaku are hand patterns each worth 1 or more han (fan is the Chinese term used in other variants).
      • "The player sitting east gets double points and pays double points." The East seat player actually gets 1.5x the points if they win the hand, and pays double if and only if someone else wins via tsumo (drawing the final tile themselves, as opposed to taking someone else's discard).
      • For some crazy reason, the subtitles had mixed not only romanized Japanese and English translations for Mahjong terms, but some terms were translated into their Chinese word origins and then romanized. Sometimes all in the same line, for example "all simples pinfu mixed triple chow."
  • Anime/FLCL: Naota is shown striking out looking every inning against Haruko's pitching. The problem is that Mabase isn't scoring any runs, and a given player can only bat at most twice every three innings if the team doesn't score, because the maximum number of batters you can send to the plate without scoring is six, while there are nine in a lineup, and everyone (or their substitutes) must bat once before anyone can bat twice.

    Comic Books 
  • An Archie comics story involves a new kid in town coming out of nowhere to become the star player on Riverdale's baseball team, playing shortstop. His leg is then badly injured when a player on a rival team spikes him, but he reinvents himself as an ace pitcher and leads Riverdale to the championship. It would be a great story if it wasn't utter bullcrap. As anyone who's ever pitched at any level could tell you, it is impossible to pitch on an injured leg, at least with any degree of competency. Pitching is not simply about throwing a ball; pitchers generate power from their legs and put a great deal of stress and weight on them when pitching. If you try to pitch on a bad leg, not only will you have difficulty controlling your pitches, it's a good bet you'll injure your arm also.
    • In another issue where Betty becomes a race car driver, the flag bearer at the racetrack waves a checkered flag at the start of her first race. The checkered flag is supposed to signal the end of a race.
  • During the Flashpoint event, the Hall of Doom flying super-prison just misses crashing into Joe Louis Arena during a Red Wings game. An establishing panel shows the ice level, where each team has eight men on the ice, nobody's wearing a helmet, the goaltenders don't look like goaltenders, and there are no officials visible. It can't be justified with an Alternate Universe since the NHL rules were codified decades before the point of divergence.

    Fanfiction 
  • The Twilight High School A.U. fanfic "30 Love" seems to correctly portray tennis...if it were men's. Women's tennis plays 3 sets instead of 5.
  • The Sherlock fanfic "A Hooligans' Game Played By Gentlemen" seems to confuse the two codes (Rugby Union and Rugby League) of rugby. Blackheath Football Club, a union club, is mentioned, but the game he plays with Lestrade and others seems to be a league game, with a turnover resulting after six tackles. In addition, his position (scrum half) is treated as a forward, when it actually makes him a back, and he implies being a back is harder on the body - this may or may not be the case, but it's something a forward wouldn't be caught dead admitting.

    Film 
  • Air Bud: While there is no rule specifically stating that a dog can't play, interscholastic leagues do have stringent eligibility requirements, including being a student of sound academic standing.
  • The 1993 movie Rookie of the Year
    • A 12-year-old boy would not be allowed to play in the Major Leagues because 16 is the minimum age. The only time this was overlooked was due to World War II in the case of Joe Nuxhall. Obviously, this was a liberty that needed to be taken, or it wouldn't be much of a movie.
    • When Henry throws the ball all the way back to home plate after the visitor hits a homer, everyone acts as if it's a live ball (it isn't).
    • Various plays he uses in the 9th are illegal; the pitcher can't be on the pitching rubber during a hidden-ball trick attempt (and play is not resumed from a timeout until the pitcher is on the rubber with the ball) and Henry's Nobody Calls Me Chicken gambit with the runner would not have taken place, as the ump would have called for time as soon as he left the pitching rubber.
    • Rather early in the film, Henry is testing his throwing accuracy, and he does the whole fake announcer narration bit, fabricating a scenario for himself. The scenario involves, among other things, a full count. Once he throws the ball and hits his target, he triumphantly shouts, "Strike one!" Even many people who don't watch baseball would know that a full count means "3 balls and two strikes."
    • According to the announcer, the the climactic game between the Mets and the Cubs will determine the division championship, with the winner advancing to the World Series. The league championship series, which (under 1993 rules) pitted division champions against each other with a World Series berth at stake, is altogether ignored.
    • At the end of the film, Henry is seen playing Little League baseball...which, having played professionally for a year, he would be ineligible to play.
  • The 1994 movie Little Big League involves a 12-year-old boy who inherits ownership of a major league baseball team, and appoints himself manager. Even if the age issue could be overlooked (the team would probably be held in trust until he comes of age), while it once was common for major league managers like Connie Mack be owners as well, Major League Baseball has forbidden it since Ted Turner tried to appoint himself manager of the Atlanta Braves in 1977.
  • The soccer/footie movie A Shot At Glory features a fictional Scottish team of whom the owner (Michael Keaton) threatens to move to Dublin. Ireland has their own professional soccer leagues. Even if this fictional team played in the top Scottish league... and it appears they don't... there would be almost no draw for such a lowly Scottish League team playing in Dublin. Not to mention the logistical problems with all the other crappy Scottish teams having to travel. Not a problem for the likes of Rangers and Celtic, but a big problem for others. And taking the team and starting a new Dublin team in the Irish leagues doesn't even remotely make sense. It would be like moving the Broncos to Manitoba and joining the CFL.
    • More broadly, the film features some inaccuracies in how the Scottish Cup tournament works. The semi finals in the film are played at the ground of the "home" team when they should have taken place at neutral venues, and in the final itself the game goes straight to penalty kicks when the game is tied after 90 minutes, ignoring the 30 minutes of extra time that should have taken place.
  • The Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard features a play at the end of the first half which starts with several seconds left on the clock. The announcers and players treat it as though the touchdown must be scored before the clock goes to triple zeroes. In real life, all that is required is for the play to begin before 0:00. Made especially baffling when you know that ESPN's Chris Berman is serving as one of the announcers. And even more baffling when you consider that another Adam Sandler football movie got this part right.
  • Golf movie climaxes almost always involve the "golden rule of golf": Play the ball as it lies. This is customarily presented as an immutable law of physics, even when such a play would make a golfer's body contort in ways that would make a member of Cirque du Soleil scream in pain. Apparently, the writers have never heard of the "unplayable-lie" rule, which, in real life, can be taken for any shot, even one safely in the fairway. It does carry with it a penalty stroke, and you can't use it to get yourself closer to the hole, but you can do it.
    • In Happy Gilmore, where Jerk Jock Shooter McGavin has to play the ball off the foot of the title character's former-boss-turned-fan (played by Richard "Jaws" Kiel). (Can possibly be justified because both parties are jerks). In the same film, Happy actually is offered the unplayable-lie rule, but doesn't use it to avoid the penalty stroke.
      • Actually, there's another rule that means that he could wait for the rubble to be cleared without taking a penalty — a rule about spectator interference. While this doesn't work for Shooter (it has to do with how an obstacle appears and the ball landed on Kiel's foot due to Shooter's own influence), it would've been in play for Happy because of what caused the obstruction note .
    • Speaking of Happy Gilmore, how many times did that fan rudely yell "Jackass!" and not get thrown out for being a distraction?
  • Days Of Thunder: A NASCAR team needs more than one car. This is not just a question of repairing damage and having a backup car ready, but of suitability. In the Sprint Cup Series, a team keeps several cars for the year: cars exclusively for the restrictor plate races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, cars exclusively for the road course races at Watkins Glen and Sonoma as well as the Pocono races, cars specifically built for the short track races at venues like Bristol and Martinsville, cars specifically built for the non-plate superspeedways, and cars built for the intermediate length tracks.
    • Or that even Tom Cruise couldn't pass everybody else in the race in the last three laps at Daytona. Unless he's an AI driver who has superhuman abilities that even Dale Earnhardt was incapable of making. During the Darlington race earlier in the movie, the driver would have lost a lot more than just two positions with the extra time he spent on pit road, due to the egg-shaped configuration.
    • And, of course, in the real world a driver would be banned from NASCAR (and probably all motorsports) for life if he went out and rammed the winner from behind during his victory lap.
  • Driven: The scene of the main characters having an impromptu grudge match in their race cars through the evening Chicago rush hour; Not only would the average race driver be fired for such a reckless stunt but they certainly wouldn't be able to use their regular car. Most single seat race cars need a team of mechanics to operate the computer systems, heat the tires, start the car with an external starter, and to strap the driver's belts since he/she cannot do that themselves.
  • Averted at the climax of Little Giants. The Giants' last play of the game, called "The Annexation of Puerto Rico" by its geeky play caller, was a legal play at the time better known as the "fumblerooski" (the ruling body of Pee-Wee football has since banned it).
  • Used to very painful effect in the Wesley Snipes version of The Fan. Live video replay on the Jumbotron (which is not allowed), video of arguments between players or brawls (also not allowed), a player getting his number assigned on Opening Day (numbers are assigned during Spring Training), the climactic scene occurring at a baseball game played during a monsoon... it would be easier to list what the movie got right. Such things do NOT include the long shot featuring a batter from BOTH teams warming up in their respective on-deck circles, and then later showing Snipes's character go directly from the dugout to the batter's box. When Tony Scott was setting up to film that climactic scene, practically the entire cast and crew was loudly pointing out that baseball is just not played in the rain. He didn't care, saying he liked the drama it created.
  • In the 1963 Disney film Son of Flubber, Professor Brainard comes up with an ingenious way to help the local high school football team win: he'll fill up a player's uniform with his new discovery, "flubber gas", to make him light and buoyant. The other players, instead of passing just the ball, will throw him with the ball, so even if he is tackled, the team will retain possession of the ball. The only problem with such a ploy? It's illegal. Rule 17 section 6 of the official football rulebook, passed in 1910, specifically outlaws players on the offensive team from pushing, pulling, or holding the player carrying the ball. Nobody in the film, including the referees, seem to be aware of this.
  • Similarly, in its predecessor The Absent-Minded Professor, the same flubber gives basketball players shoes that allows them to take gigantic leaps. Unfortunately, by making several leaps in a row (as they do), without passing or dribbling the ball, they would be immediately called for travelling. Unlike a lot of the examples on this page, the opposing coach does realize that Medfield's game techniques are far from kosher, and complains about it loudly to the referee... whose only response is "Ain't no rule says one team can't jump higher than the other!" But using artificial aids to jump higher can be called, certainly under "any equipment that is designed to increase a player's height or reach or in any other way give an unfair advantage is not permitted." Possibly as a technical foul under "sportsmanship and fair play", or because referees "have the power to make decisions on any point not specifically covered by these rules."
    • Also happens in the re-make "Flubber"
  • The movie It Happens Every Spring is about a college professor who discovers a wood-repellent compound and uses this discovery to become a successful major league pitcher. The movie never addresses the fact that applying any kind of foreign substance to the ball is cheating of the most blatant variety: his pitches would qualify as a spitball, which was banned by Major League Baseball in 1920. Even more surprisingly, none of the umpires or opposing players seem the least bit suspicious of all the physics-defying things that the professor's pitches do.
  • In The Waterboy, after it's discovered that the coach forged Bobby Boucher's high school transcript to get him on the team, making him an ineligible player, the NCAA allows Bobby to still play in the team's bowl game if he passes a high school equivalency exam. In reality, not only would the NCAA not allow that, the whole team would have been forbidden to play in the game, would have had to forfeit back all its wins on the season and probably would have been banned from future bowl games and lost several scholarships for a few years.
  • Not sports, but Game Shows: Slumdog Millionaire changes brutally how Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? works for the sake of drama (the show is not live, but recorded in studio some days before the actual broadcast - which is why they reread the hotline question on the phone and have a time limit on it; the hotline is never directed to a mobile number, to prevent connection troubles, and for the same reason it's never issued directly when the contestant asks for it; the call is first made in the very moment the contestant begins his round and it's then kept live - but soundless - until the contestant calls for the hotline).
    • And players retain the right to walk away after hearing the question and even after using lifelines (except Double Dip, which was not even used in this version).
  • Played with in that a common way that authors get around this trope is to create their own league or tournament that is a lot like a well-known real world event, but technically isn't. One example is Blades of Glory. Critics point out the errors made in the rules points system for Pairs Figure Skating in the Winter Olympics except that these aren't the Winter Olympics, they're the "World Winter Sports Games."
  • In The Mighty Ducks:
    • District Five takes the ice in its first game wearing a smattering of used or inappropriate pads (like a football helmet). Every league for kids mandates proper helmets with full face cages and they would never be allowed to take the ice that way.
    • Later, Gordon tries to get Conway to take a dive and fake an injury in order to draw a penalty. Conway gets pinned to the boards, but refuses to act hurt. Amusingly, in that scene you can see the other player's stick jammed up under Conway's face mask, which is a legitimate penalty.
    • The Flying V just avoids being illegal provided that A. The players pass the puck forward after crossing the blue line, and B. The players ahead of the puck don't initiate contact with a defender for interference. It would still be a really stupid formation in real life, however, as all the defense has to do is gang up on the lead man to either steal the puck or force the V offside (which is exactly what Iceland did in D2).
    • The Ducks' win over the Huskies in the final game of the regular season gave them a playoff spot. If that happened to be the 8th seed, they should have faced the top-seeded Hawks in the first round - the most likely case given that there are 10 teams in the league (going by the chalkboard standings and district map in Hans' shop), it's stated all but two make the playoffs (one of these are the Panthers, who forfeited their remaining games due to measles), and the overall poor record of the Ducks at 1 win, 12 losses, and 1 tienote .
  • D2: The Mighty Ducks
    • One of the players gets a penalty for "roping." Um, what about the fact there were too many players on the ice? Or a game misconduct penalty for leaving the bench? Lampshaded a bit—the announcer did say, "Two minutes for... roping? That's a new one on me."
    • The big heel team is the noted ice hockey power of... Iceland. In spite of the country's name, Iceland is not a hockey powerhouse in real life.
    • D2 also has them playing Trinidad and Tobago whose team is on the movie poster and DVD cover. Trinidad and Tobago does not have an ice hockey team.
    • In the final shootout.. never mind that Russ switched places with Goldberg to get the shot at the end of the game, which involved him wearing goalie equipment, but under ANY circumstances, nobody can take off their helmet while on the ice anymore!
    • In the final shootout to decide the tournament winner of D2, neither Fulton's nor Gunnar Stahl's penalty shots should have counted as they both clearly come to a complete stop and then shoot. During a shootout or penalty shot, the puck must always move forward.
    • During the film the Duck's star player Adam gets injured when an opposing player deliberately hits him with his stick on his arm that was exposed after he removed his glove. The film treats this as slashing, a common penalty where a player swings their stick at an opposing player. In reality, deliberately using a heavy overhead swing with your stick is not only a much stiffer penalty it legally qualifies as assault. A similar real life incident in the NHL a few years ago actually led to the offending player ending up in jail for over a year.
  • Pretty much every instance of body contact shown in Slap Shot would be an obvious interference penalty.
  • David Mamet's Redbelt features a very antiquated and ill-informed version of Mixed Martial Arts.
    • The main character is offered a chance to fight on the undercard of an event for a flat $50,000, though real fight purses are divided into a "show purse" for fighting and a "win purse" awarded if the fighter wins.
    • The plot revolves around the concept of implementing randomly-assigned handicaps before each bout, which would never fly in the real world. Athletic commissions are very strict about ensuring that fighters can adequately defend themselves.
    • The promoters state that the whole point of the handicap gimmick is to make the handicapped fighter lose, allowing them to fix the fights. If every fight was determined by a randomly-assigned handicap, no one would bother watching. It defeats the entire point of athletic competition. This is to say nothing about how unlikely it would be that gamblers and gambling institutions would ever buy the chicanery in the first place.
  • Nacho Libre takes a great many liberties with professional wrestling. Obviously, the most glaring issue is that it presents wrestling as real and not staged, but this can be forgiven for the sake of the plot. However, certain basic rules in professional wrestling (even in kayfabe) are ignored. For example, to finish one match, the hero receives a tombstone piledriver, a move which is illegal in Mexico, where the story is set. In the climax of the film, he even pins his opponent... outside the ring. While there are special matches that allow pinning anywhere, this was an ordinary match, yet he does not pin his opponent in the ring. Rule of Cool doesn't even really apply here, as while the reason his opponent was outside the ring in the first place was so the hero could perform a physics defying dive attack from the turnbuckle, there's no reason he couldn't have thrown his dazed opponent into the ring to pin him legally.
    • Under traditional lucha libre rules, tampering with an opponent's mask before making the pin results in an automatic forfeit. Nacho should have won at least two matches that way.
  • The film Agent For Harm features a character heading to the "judo range". The film is best known for appearing on Mystery Science Theater 3000, where Mike and the Bots tell her to grab her aikido rifle.
  • Unlike other films in The Love Bug series, the last race of Herbie: Fully Loaded takes place in what is, if not NASCAR itself, then a clearly NASCAR-like organization. Assuming Team Peyton could get permission to race a Volkswagen (not likely, given the time frame), Herbie is clearly A) Too old, B) (to the naked eye) has no racing modifications, C) possesses NO safety gear (Restraint harness? Roll cage? Nope!). Herbie shouldn't have even been allowed to pass a cursory pre-race inspection.
  • In the 1994 Disney version of Angels in the Outfield, during the climactic final game, announcer Ranch Wilder says the Chicago White Sox will have the "heart of the order" - which usually refers to the team's 3-4-5 hitters - leading off the ninth inning against the Angels. Kit Keezy ends up being the sixth batter in the inning, which would mean he was eighth in the lineup. Not the most likely spot for the Sox to place the guy who's leading the league in RBI. In fact, had the script called for Wilder to say the "bottom" of the lineup - the 7-8-9 hitters - that would have put Keezy in the more likely 3 spot.
  • 2004's Mr. 3000 is about a baseball player who retires immediately after getting his 3,000th hit. Years later, it's discovered that due to a clerical error, he actually has only 2,997 hits. Everyone acts as though this completely torpedoes his chances of getting into the Hall of Fame. In actuality, nearly every player with at least 2,800 hits has been elected to the Hall in their first year of eligibility, usually by a comfortable margin.
    • Though the film points out that it was more of his bad attitude, as he had been retired 15 years before the error was discovered, plenty of time to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.note  He's inducted after getting 2,999 because he simply sacrifices his last at bat to help his team rather than getting hit number 3000.
  • The 2005 film Fever Pitch gets pretty much everything wrong in its climactic scene: No one would've been scalping tickets in the eighth inning (and virtually every stadium closes off attendance after the first several innings), Lindsey somehow survives a feet-first 30 foot fall from Fenway's "Triangle" wall, is shown on TV running on the field (TV broadcasts are mandated not to show fans running on the field, in order to discourage that type of behavior), and is allowed to carry a brief conversation with Ben before being taken away by security (apparently, Talking Is a Free Action at Fenway Park).
  • The 2012 Clint Eastwood film Trouble With The Curve quickly became notorious in baseball circles for its highly unrealistic portrait of baseball scouting and player development. Sportswriter Joe Posnanski has an entry on his blog detailing the many errors and improbabilities in the movie.
  • The Bring It On films stand as an example here for the ubiquitous artistic licence used in just about any fictional work about high school cheerleading. Firstly, for the sake of Fanservice, the costumes are usually stomach-baring or even more Stripperiffic, which is not allowed in high school cheerleading.note Secondly, for extra spectacle, the routines often feature elements like pyramids, throws and trampoline-assisted leaps which are banned in high-school cheerleading as excessively dangerous.
  • Granted, the Disney Channel movie HE Double Hockey Sticks already takes creative liberties by featuring two fictitious NHL teams in the Delaware Demons and Annapolis Angels. Still, assuming the movie refers to Annapolis, Maryland, those teams would not face each other for the Stanley Cup since they would both be placed in the NHL's Eastern Conference (and most likely the same division) due to their geographic proximity.
  • It would probably be faster to list everything about baseball the 1994 film The Scout got right, than to break down its impressive list of factual errors. However some key points:
    • First of all, a scout is just that: goes around scouting talent and reporting back to the team. This could be either an advance scout who watches opposing teams to help the manager establish his strategy against an upcoming opponent, and scouts analyzing prospects or free agents on whether the team should consider approaching them. He would not himself be the go-between for signing players, which would instead involve the team's owners and either the prospect or his agent.
    • The young pitcher at the start of the film, Tommy Lacy, as a kid with no professional experience, would never have jumped right into the Major Leagues unless the team's ownership and management was utterly incompetent or dangerously impatient to see a return on the signing. He would have been started in the Minor Leagues first, and played his way up through the farm system precisely because of his unknown quality (in Real Life, highly-touted prospects more often than not fizzle out before they even reach the Majors).
    • After the bidding war on Steve Nebraska, the other teams are able to force an agreement that he can only pitch if the Yankees make the World Series, which Al later promises to Steve he doesn't have to pitch until the World Series. Not only do the other teams not have a say to begin with, but the rules of Major League Baseball would have made Nebraska ineligible to pitch in the postseason anyway, as he must be on (a) the active 25-man roster (b) the disabled list, (c) the bereavement list, or (d) the suspended list before September 1, and must appear in at least one regular season game in order to be eligible for postseason play.
    • The game at the climax is played in Yankee Stadium, an American League ballpark. The American League has the Designated Hitter rule, in which the pitcher does not bat. The rule does allow teams to waive their DH and allow the pitcher to bat instead, but this almost never happens. No team has intentionally waived their right to start a DH in a regular season game since 1976note , and it's never happened in a postseason game.
  • In Hoodlum, a scene is introduced with the title card "December 1934" and then shows Dutch Schultz listening to a Yankees game in his office.
  • Deliberately invoked in Rudy. In real life, it was all Dan Devine's decision to let Rudy play in Notre Dame's final game of the year. But it was also the real life Devine's suggestion that his fictional counterpart be the one holding Rudy back in the movie and instead make the other players stand up for him.
  • Warrior gets a lot right about Mixed Martial Arts, but still takes liberties. For example, one character very obviously gets his arm broken in the middle of a bout, but continues to fight on. In reality, getting your arm broken would result in an immediate stoppage, no matter how much you want to continue fighting.
  • In All the Marbles with Peter Falk, women's wrestling apparently is as un-fake as the Superbowl results.
  • The movie version of Arsenic and Old Lace opens with a scene of a fight breaking out during a Yankees-Dodgers game...on Halloween. While it's technically possible nowadays for the World Series to stretch into October 31 and beyond, such a thing would have been unheard-of in The Forties. (Possibly justified as Rule of Funny, as well as a way to establish the film's Brooklyn setting as a sort of Cloudcuckooland.)
  • The Karate Kid III: Snake's fouls on Danny in the final showdown were so blatant and close together, even the most lenient ref would've disqualified him halfway through the match.
  • It's a well-known fact that The Love Guru star/producer/writer Mike Myers is a big hockey fan, so the many egregious errors in the sport's portrayal - like the referee handing out on-the-spot game suspensions, goalies wearing outdated Friday the 13th style plastic masks and Guru Pitka having free access to the Toronto bench - can be put down as Rule Of (allegedly) Funny.
  • Used at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger: Cap wakes up in what he thinks is a hospital bed. The radio is playing the call of a Brooklyn Dodgers game. Unfortunately for SHIELD, Cap realizes the broadcast is a recording... Because he was actually at that game.
  • Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen vehicle Switching Goals is a movie about soccer that manages to get many basics of the sport wrong. It is shown to allow time-outs, have plays (like in American football), the game ends as soon as the clock reaches zero (and the clock is indeed counting down) with the end signaled by a hockey-style honk, shoving another player when you're the one in possession of the ball isn't counted as a foul (in a kids' game no less!), one goalie isn't wearing gloves and a tournament final ends in a draw.
  • Bullfighting is really toned down in The Book of Life. In real life, the bull is weakened by picadors who jab spears into his neck to weaken him so that the matador can further weaken him with the capote, with the goal of tiring him so much that he's forced to expose his lungs for the killing blow; here, the bull and the matador enter together. Also, Manolo's refusal to kill is somewhat meaningless, as in real bullfighting the bull will be killed after the bout whether or not the matador succeeds (a bull that fights more than once is far more dangerous, as he's learned how the fight will go).
  • Ace Ventura: Super Bowl XVII wasn't between the Miami Dolphins and the San Francisco 49ers; that would be Super Bowl XIX. The Dolphins were in Super Bowl XVII, but it was against the Washington Redskins. Also, Miami never lost by a last second field goal in either game; that was based on the last-second kick missed by Scott Norwood of the Buffalo Bills is Super Bowl XXV. (Granted, Norwood never lived down missing that kick, but thankfully, he didn't take things nearly as far as Ray Finkle does in this movie.)
  • Bull Durham: Early in the film Nuke is said to have compiled 18 strikeouts and 18 walks in his first start. This would require a mathematical minimum of 126 pitches (already a high count for a rookie in the minors) and in reality probably more than 200 pitches (an absurdly high number).
  • 42: While mostly true to the sport, some license was used with the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Green Street: Occurs when Pete takes Matt to see West Ham play against Birmingham City at Upton Park. The team shown in the film was not Birmingham City (which would have been wearing blue-and-white kits) but rather Gillingham, a team which wore the blue and black hoops during the 2003-2004 season. Moreover, since Birmingham City and West Ham were in different divisions during the 2003-2004 season (Birmingham in the Premier League, West Ham in the Championship), it would have been impossible for the two clubs to play league games against each other during that season.
  • Major League: In the second movie, Cerrano kills a bird with a swing; he goes into the outfield to mourn the bird and has to be tagged out. In Major League Baseball rules, he's out once he abandons his effort to run to the next base. Also only eight spots in the batting order, not nine, elapse between Taylor's groundout in the 7th inning and his bunt single in the 9th.
  • Million Dollar Baby:During the title bout, the Blue Bear commits several fouls that would result in immediate automatic disqualification in a real boxing match, but only receives warnings and/or point deductions for them.
  • Rocky: In both rules (fighting after the bell) and tactics. Rocky and his opponents usually have massively swollen eyes or are badly cut and pouring buckets of blood by the end of a fight. In real-life boxing, if swelling or a cut interferes with a boxer's sight and isn't able to be controlled by the boxer's cornermen, then, depending on the severity, it may well result in a technical knockout. Then there's the actual boxing, which is less of a boxing match (they might want to try keeping the gloves up, for a change) and more of a take-turns-getting-clean-roundhouses-to-the-face matches.
  • Speedy: The Yankees are playing at home, but the scoreboard on the street (as well as the impromptu line score Harold makes with doughnuts) has them batting in the top of the inning.
  • The Natural: The New York Knights somehow are batting in the bottom of the inning in Chicago despite being the visiting team.
  • Varsity Blues: In two games, Mox hits an obnoxious mascot on the sideline with the ball after the snap. The film treats this as a clever way to stop the clock (i.e. spike the ball). In reality, this would be ruled as intentional grounding and would result in a loss of a down and ten yards.
    Literature 
  • The Black Stallion. Another one of those cases where something was within the rules when it was made, but not now... except it's a Long Runner, and the series kept following the obsolete rule. The rule in question? Allowing a "Mystery Horse" (i.e. a horse of uncertain breed) such as Black to enter a special match race that had been arranged between two champion racehorses, Cyclone and Sun Raider. Match races (Real Life examples include Seabiscuit vs War Admiral, Man o' War vs Sir Barton, Swaps vs. Nashua) weren't run under normal race rules. The Black later gets an identity and is glossed over as being admitted to the Jockey Club stud book (implausible, as it's a closed book, but not completely impossible—Thoroughbreds are descended from three Arab and Barb foundation stallions and if the Black were real a very strong argument could be made for his being a new foundation sire) and sires offspring on Thoroughbred mares. A problem of The Film of the Book is Alec throwing away his 'disguise' helmet. If the race had the same weight rules as regular racing, he just disqualified himself as he'd come up too light on the re-weigh jockeys must do AFTER a race, to make sure they're not cheating.
  • In Edward Bloor's "Tangerine", one of the climactic moments features protagonist and goalie Paul Fisher needing to stop a last second penalty kick so that his team will tie their rival and his former team, winning the league in the process. It's a fairly uplifting idea with one small problem: it completely gets wrong the way soccer leagues are scored. See, Paul's team is undefeated whereas the other team is undefeated but has played one more game during the season; the additional game ended in a tie. The problem? According to the scoring rules for soccer leagues, the winner is the team with the most points at the end of the season, not just the highest winning percentage. Since a tie is worth one point and a win is worth three, Paul's team needs to win, not tie, in order to win the league. And to make matters worse, they could have done this if they had just had the climactic penalty kick occur with Paul's team up by one goal. But of course that would be less dramatic...
  • In another Gordon Korman book, The Chicken Doesn't Skate, the book's junior high hockey team has a player unload a slap shot the sails 20 feet over the goal, hits a balcony, busts a light on the scoreboard, and drops back down near center ice for the opposing team to take it and score. Uh, no. Even accepting the physics-defying speed and distance the puck goes, it would have been whistled dead once it cleared the boundaries of the ice.
  • Avalon High in the movie adaptation, despite what's depicted, you can not run a blocked extra point back for a touchdown (a blocked PAT attempt would count as a saftey - two points).
  • The Man Who Brought The Dodgers Back To Brooklyn:
    • When Bobby signs Ruthie to the team, she immediately joins the main Dodgers roster. In modern baseball, rookies — especially unknown pitchers with no professional experience — typically go through the minor leagues before hitting the majors.
    • Bobby would also have had to contend with the MLB's ban on women, which was still in effect when the book was written. The book didn't address the issue whatsoever.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One Kirk bowling episode, "The Spare", has so many faults that even casual bowlers are screaming at the television. For instance, mistaking a 6-pin for a 10-pin; all four members of a team bowling one game together (usually they bowl games separately); one team is leading by one pin before the ninth, and all of a sudden in the 10th that team needs three strikes to win, even when the other team got two gutter balls in the ninth. Perhaps this example would've been shorter if we had listed the stuff about bowling they got right.
    • The 'one game together' might just be writed off as some weird variant of Scotch Double, where two players play a game together, one playing firstball, and the other the second, until a strike is made where they switch
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • In the opening host segment for Alien from L.A., Mike is trying to teach the Bots Blackjack. Crow "hits" on two decks worth of cards, all without even looking at his cards. Even though, under some rules, you can go as high as eight hits (which is the most you can statistically draw before going over 21note ), the standard rule is three (a "5-Card Charlie" is holding five cards without busting, counting as an automatic win for the player).
    • In the opening for Red Zone Cuba, Mike and The Bots are playing "high stakes" bingo and Magic Voice calls out "B-37." On standard Bingo cards, B holds numbers 1-15. 37 would be under "N".
  • Cricket enthusiast Aaron Sorkin included in Sports Night a line that in an Test (International) match, one of the bowlers had achieved the remarkable feat of taking all 10 wickets in a single innings (a feat only achieved twice in history - Jim Laker in 1956 and Anil Kumble in 1999), and compared it to a baseball pitcher throwing "3 straight perfect games." Whether that comparison is valid, the professional sports commentators can't understand how the bowler could have conceded any runs while doing this (which would be, in cricketing terms, a virtually miraculous occurrence). Even with absolutely no knowledge of the rules of cricket, you'd presume they'd realise that the standards of scoring in the two games were rather different.
  • In the Wings episode "The Team Player", Antonio, temporarily running the Sandpiper counter while Joe and Brian are away at a Bruins hockey game, causes the Bruins' star player, Danny "Dead End" Connelly, to miss the game. The wrath of all of Massachusetts descends on Joe and Brian, but the airline is saved from disaster when the hockey star abruptly leaves the team to sign a huge contract with their rivals. In what sporting league is one able to walk out on one's contract and immediately join a rival in the middle of the season? Not the NHL, at least.
    • Not to mention for every pissed-off fan, there would've been two who would've ridiculed him for playing the "Do you know who I am?" card.
    • And on top of that, if it was that close to game time, shouldn't he have been at the arena already? If such a thing happened in the real world, the sports media would have been chewing him out mercilessly.
    • In "Blackout Buggins", the group goes to Fenway Park to watch Roy sing the national anthem. After Roy finishes the song, a Red Sox player with the name Casey on his jersey is seen taking the field. The Red Sox have never featured player names on the back of their home jerseys.
  • Seinfeld:
    • "The Wink". After a promise to a sick child that Paul O'Neill will hit two home runs doesn't work out as planned, Kramer pacifies the child by promising that in the next game, O'Neill will catch a fly ball in his hat. This would be an incredibly stupid thing for O'Neill to do; intentionally touching the ball with a piece of equipment other than his glove is illegal for a fielder to do and would result in the batter automatically being given three bases.
    • Another Seinfeld example comes from the episode where Jerry dates an Olympic gymnast expecting acrobatic sex and being disappointed when the sex turns out to be extremely ordinary. After the encounter, Jerry describes his disappointment to Elaine saying that he expected her to use him as the apparatus. Elaine asks, "You mean like the uneven parallel bars? Or the balance beam? Not... the pommel horse?" This might explain why Jerry found the sex disappointing; his girlfriend would have no experience using a pommel horse since that particular apparatus only appears in men's gymnastics.
  • Sex and the City features an episode in which a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel is purchased because it has "one leg shorter than the others" and shown at a Westminster-like dog show in that episode and without training, while in heat. There's a lot wrong here, starting with the fact that estrous is an immediate disqualification from dog shows. The idea that an unevenly hocked dog with no prior experience, an amateur handler and a disqualifying (as well as obvious and terribly disruptive to the other dogs) medical condition could win any sort of legitimate major dog show is as accurate as saying Carrie Bradshaw could enlist and play for the NFL. The only thing remotely justifying about it is that the judge was enamored with the handler- but even that wouldn't have helped her get all the way to the show ring.
    • Another episode had the four attending a Yankees game. When they take a visit to the locker room afterward, one unnamed player is seen wearing jersey number 9. The Yankees retired that number for Roger Maris.
      • That probably was not done on purpose in this case, but there's valid reason to avoid giving a fictitious player a number used by a real one. See also 555.
      • They might have used #42, since it's been retired throughout the Major Leagues for Jackie Robinson, but the Yankees' roster also contained Mariano Rivera, the last player still playing to wear #42 before the number was universally retired.
  • In the Even Stevens episode "Head Games," Alan Twitty enters a baseball game as a relief pitcher. Coming straight from the dugout, he immediately steps on the mound and the game instantly resumes. Regardless of level of play, baseball never works like this. Pitchers always warm up by throwing several practice pitches off to the side before entering the game (in college and professional leagues, this is the bullpen, but many little league and high schools teams just use an open field that's out of the way), and are then allowed several more warmup pitches while on the mound. Throwing a baseball hard repeatedly is one of the most risky and injurious things you can do to your body and should only be done once the arm muscles have been properly exercised and loosened. Not doing so can easily cause you to permanently damage your arm. Obviously, this is also an example of The Law of Conservation of Detail.
    • Which is why when a relief pitcher comes into the game due to an injury (i.e. the only time you would bring a reliever in without warming him up first), he is given as many warm-up pitches as he wants, as opposed to the 8 normally allotted when a relief pitcher comes in or at the start of an inning.
  • Saturday Night Live was guilty of this in a 2013 sketch featuring host Melissa McCarthy as Sheila Kelly, the aggressively abusive womens' basketball coach at fictional NCAA Division III school Middle Delaware State (parodying former Rutgers mens' coach Mike Rice). In an interview clip, the school's athletic director tries to defend her behavior by pointing out that the players are receiving a free education via athletic scholarships. Division III institutions are prohibited from giving out athletic scholarships (in fact, that's the main distinction between Division III and the other two divisions.)
    • In the original series Doctor Who episode "The Curse of Fenric", the Doctor has perplexed Eldritch Abomination Fenric with a chess puzzle the being cannot solve. The solution is accidentally provided by the Doctor's companion Ace, the black and white pawns must work together! This is presented as a solution that Fenric, by his nature, could not comprehend. In reality, it's a solution that nobody who understands chess could comprehend. note 
  • In the "Stealing Home" episode of White Collar, everything about the heist during a Yankees game pretty much seems to be fine, until you see the date of the check handed to Neal, dated "3/7/12." Unless it was backdated, regular season games at the earliest start in late March, and normally at the beginning of April.
  • The Glee episode "Preggers" gives us the notorious "All the Single Ladies" football play. In real life, a play like that would get flagged for false start, offside, delay of game, illegal formation, playing music over the sound system while the play clock was running and illegal motion (more than one person moving before the snap).
  • A critical plot development in the second season of The Newsroom takes place during an interview with a subject who is obsessed with March Madness, college basketball's post-season tournament. A character even uses the game clock later to figure out that the interview tape was edited. However, the actual game being played on the background TV is a 2011 regular season game between Kentucky and Florida (perhaps as a nod to Florida alum Stephen Root, who played the character being interviewed). The game was played at Kentucky, while March Madness games take place at neutral sites.
  • Occurs twice during Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, both in the case of Ronny's being a racing driver. During her introduction, she is shown winning the Italian Grand Prix (a Formula 1 race)... in a NASCAR car. For anyone not familiar with Formula 1, this is functionally equivalent to winning the Indy 500 in a milk float made of concrete. It doesn't happen. However, it gets worse: during the episode Once A Ranger, Ronny is shown winning the Monaco Grand Prix. Not only is pretty much the exact same shot with a different subtitle and attendant concrete milk float error (perhaps inevitable due to budget restrictions and the thematic context of the episode), in doing so it uses the same strip of tarmac in the middle of an ocean of grass that looked almost nothing like Imola to begin with. The Monaco Grand Prix takes place on a street circuit.
  • Mysterious Ways: There are a few very basic errors when Declan and Peggy go bowling in "Spirit Junction."
    • First, Peggy asks why Declan didn't get bowling shoes, and he replies, "That's a long story." Bowling shoes are required because street shoes scuff up the lanes, and they were the only ones in the alley so it's not like he could have slipped through the cracks.
    • Second, Peggy says it's her turn again after Declan makes one throw. A frame of bowling consists of two attempts to knock down the pins, unless you knock them all down on the first throw (for a strike).
    • Third, Declan keeps throwing gutterballs before throwing a strike by complete chance. However, he falls completely into the lane in the process, so the strike wouldn't count, as it's a foul if any part of your body crosses the foul line.
Haven:The Red Sox and Yankees finished a game in which the Red Sox overcome a 10 run deficit before noon. Even the Patriots' Day game in April starts at 10-11 a.m. Not technically impossible, but highly improbable, since non-high-scoring games between the two teams run 3-4 hours. The point is that plot-wise, Audrey uses her foreknowledge of it to prevent people from dying and stop the "Groundhog Day" Loop, which alphabetically, is very close to this trope.

    Music 
  • "The Ballad of Fizzball McCann" by Greg Champion (who really should have known better) lists one too many fielders in McCann's field setup (no wicket-keeper was mentioned, although a Cricket side playing without a wicket-keeper would be just as odd).
  • Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" has the line "2-3 the count, with nobody on, he hit a high fly into the stands..." That should actually be "3-2 the count", since 2-3 would mean the titular BEHM was out on two balls and three strikes and thus not hitting anything.