Gretzky Has the Ball

Jason: Joe Montana fades back to pass. He sees Jerry Rice open in the end zone!
Peter: Wrong team. note 
Jason: He sees Derrick Thomas open in the end zone!
Peter: Wrong position. note 
Jason: He sees Wayne Gretzky open in the end zone!
Peter: Wrong sport, moron. note 

Many Sitcoms use the gimmick of the sports episode, usually setting the man up to be humiliated by a woman. When this happens, the writers will use the most basic terminology available, and most of the time not even get that right. Most of the time, the sport 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.

This is especially egregious when the protagonist is supposed to be a sports writer.

Films usually avoid this trope, as the writers there will generally have plenty of time to research for the script. Television, however, only gets seven to ten days of shooting.

The trope name doesn't actually come from any examples; it's just a great example of a person afflicted with this trope. (For those not in on it: Wayne Gretzky is basically the most famous ice hockey player ever to live... and ice hockey uses a puck, not a ball.)

See also Critical Research Failure. 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.


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  • 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.
  • In an AT&T commercial, a prospective customer uses the term "slam dunk" in response to the service being offered, prompting Milana Vayntrub's supervisor character to brag about how great she was at basketball in high school. The joke is that she doesn't recognize that the customer is Grant Hill, an NBA superstar and college Hall of Famer.
  • 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 
  • In the American Gag Dub of Digimon Adventure, Tai Kamiya is a soccer player who apparently doesn't play much else. He was rather prone to mixed sporting metaphors, such as "Bases loaded, two outs! And we need a slam dunk!"
  • 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.
  • The English dub for the first Project A-Ko has one of these. B-Ko is issuing her first challenge, and at the end acts out the sport she uses for the metaphor by appearing in a baseball cap and miming swinging a bat. Understandably, one would think this would be dubbed as 'World Series' for an American viewer. What do they end up using? 'It'll be our own Super Bowl'.
  • Mio in Nichijou is completely incapable of anything else. A montage shows that every time she ever tries to play an organized sport or just a game with rules, she'll do something completely contrary to the rules of the game. When trying to perform a simple high jump, she keeps jumping under the bar, into the bar, or into her best friend.
    • An earlier episode also shows Robot Girl Nano and the eight year old Professor who made her playing baseball while clearly having no idea how the game is played.
  • In an episode of Squid Girl, Ika plays soccer with some of Takeru's schoolmates. However, she has no idea how to play, and violates a lot of the rules, which the boys on both teams call her out on, such as using her tentacles, which totally aren't her hands, to get the soccer ball into the goal post, even though to the kids it looked like she held the ball in her hands. When she tries just using her feet, she's completely terrible to the point that the both teams collude to help her score at least one goal.
  • In the movie Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie: Pyramid of Light Anubis attacks Yugi's Obnoxious Celtic Guardian with Sphinx Telia and destroys it. Obnoxious Celtic Guardian has a special ability that prevents it from being destroyed in battle by a monster with 1900 ATK or more; Sphinx Telia has 2500 ATK. Obnoxious Celtic Guardian's effect is completely ignored.
    • Several cards have different effects in the series than they do in real life, resulting in far too many examples of this trope to list here. The above is not an example of this; Obnoxious Celtic Guard was established to have this effect in the show as well.
      • By far the worst example of this is Strings, whose entire strategy revolves around using Revival Jam's effect to respawn infinitely. In the real game Revival Jam's effect is significantly more limited, making the strategy seven kinds of impossible.
    • In the actual Yu-Gi-Oh! card game if you normal summon a monster in defense mode, you must place it face-down. In the series the players are not forced to do this and- starting with the GX series- they seem to summon exclusively in face-up defense mode. This was likely done to avoid audience confusion.
  • In Soul Eater, Maka knows almost nothing about basketball.

    Comic Books 
  • A recent Spider-Man comic used this as part of Spot the Impostor involving Barack Obama, of all people. It all starts with trouble at the Presidential Inauguration — namely, two Obamas showing up, each claiming to be the real one. Spidey swings in and points out that Obama played basketball in college, leading to a Secret Service agent suggesting a three-point shootout to determine the real president. The fake Obama the Chameleon in disguise begins sweating and stammers something like "even if we did find a basketball field, where will we find an umpire at this hour?" Sadly, this means that the world's first three-point shootout between a supervillain and a U.S. president has yet to happen.
  • 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 one issue, the Riverdale team shows up to a football game, and the rival team is female. One Curb-Stomp Battle later, Archie and Reggie are moping around, depressed, when Betty and Veronica ask to be shown how to "shoot baskets with this horse hide"[a football]. Reggie and Archie walk off with the girls in hand, going "When will you learn football is a man's game!" The girls wink at each other.
    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 instruction 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.
  • Horse Feathers has to be deliberate, as there is no way anybody could possibly think that the ref would let somebody ride down the field in a chariot and use every spare football in said chariot as a separate touchdown, no matter how much bribery was involved. Also, Groucho's team (Huxley College) received a kick-off from rival Darwin College after scoring a touchdown, as opposed to kicking off to Darwin. (This is actually a bit of Truth In Television, since some college all-star games used to do this to make the contests more competitive: in the Hawaii Bowl, for example, a team would get the ball back if they trailed by more than two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.)
  • 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).
  • An in-universe example is played for laughs in Roger Dodger in an exchange between Roger and his nephew.
    Roger: Why give into a slump? Let's go down swinging.
    Nick: Yes. Like Michael Jordan.
    Roger: Right. That's the wrong sport, but I like your enthusiasm.
  • 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."
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Older than Television: The Three Stooges parody the concept with shorts like "Three Little Beers" (golf) and "Three Little Pigskins" (football), with the Stooges just plain ignorant with the sport in question, usually using terms found in hunting and horse racing.
  • 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 H-E-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).

  • 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 Macdonald Hall Goes Hollywood, an American child star sneaks onto the hockey team of the Canadian boarding school during a game and gets hit in the eye with the puck at the very end. As he sits in the hospital, his manager screams, "It had to be my client to get hit with the ball!"
  • 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.
  • Deliberately used in Heart In Hand to Bluff the Impostor in-universe. Talking to a girl at a bar, Darryl suspects she is lying about being a hockey fan, so he mentions "the tipoff after the second half" that "led to the fifth field goal". An ice hockey game starts with a faceoff, is divided into three periods and involves teams attempting to score goals.

    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
  • Parodied on Scrubs, where JD's woefully ignorant view on sports (due to Flanderization) leads to the following mixed metaphor:
    JD: Unlikely, because what's waiting for me in my room is what's known in football terms as a slam-dunk. swings imaginary tennis racket
    • Also, in another scene, Elliot says that she'll be a bigger fraud than Barry Bonds; JD replies, "I love it when he wins at that game he plays."
    • Also also, in another episode, JD tosses his friend Turk's basketball down a hospital hallway only to have it popped on the security guard's hook hand. JD apologizes to Turk and comforts him with the line "Relax, they come three to a can."
    • Also also also, there's one scene which opens with JD and Turk discussing sports and agreeing that with a certain player, New York could really win the title. Then Turk asks, "which sport are we talking about here?" J.D. thinks it's tennis.
    • This exchange that occurs when Arnold Palmer is brought up:
      JD: Incidentally, has anyone ever done less to become famous? I mean, "Yay for me, I mixed two drinks together!"
      Dr. Cox: Arnold Palmer is a golfer.
      JD: I'm sure he has lots of hobbies, Perry, the man's a drink mogul.
    • An invoked example of this trope is the time J.D. wore the delightfully ironic T-shirt that had a picture of a football with the caption "Soccer" underneath.
    • There's also another scene in My Cake, where Cox and JD's brother try to cheer JD up by watching a sporting event with him. They wear Detroit Red Wings attire as they watch a college football game...between two professional teams.
  • Rebecca serves as an announcer to a hockey game that Joey participates in in an episode of Full House. Feeling the need to upstage her, her husband Jesse attempts to join in. Keep in mind that Jesse is not athletic in any shape or form and knows nothing about sports, so naturally he looks like a complete idiot not knowing about the penalty box or even the game clock. This happens in another episode when he tries to play basketball to impress his children. Jesse is a horrible case of Characterization Marches On. Earlier seasons had him being as athletic and knowing about sports as Danny and Joey; after the fourth season, he has no athletic ability and claims to know nothing about sports at all.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • The "Turkey Day" version of the episode "Night of the Blood Beast" does this intentionally in its first host segment. Mike and the bots make contradictory references as Gypsy tries to guess which sport they're talking about; when it comes back from commercial, it turns out that it was Australian Rules Football.
    • 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".
    • This shows up in a riff for Wild Rebels. The protagonist, Rod Tillman (played by Steve Alaimo) arrives at the club by hitch-hiking with a rotund, older gentleman wearing a ballcap.
      Tom: "Hey! It's Tommy Lasorda!"(as Rod): "Gee, thanks, Mr. Lasorda!".
      Joel (as Lasorda): "Now, remember...Just a shake for breakfast...a shake for lunch...then a sensible..."note .
      Tom: "Yeah, whatever! Thanks for the ride! Good luck with the football team or whatever it is you do!".
    • In one segment, Mike is at the plate with Servo pitching and Crow as the umpire. Crow seems to know nothing about baseball, as two pitches thrown - one that nearly hits Mike and another that does hit them are called strikes (or rather, "Hiiii-reeeeee-ah!") When Mike rushes the mound to attack Servo, Crow starts shouting, "Order in the court! Order in the court! Order in the court!"
  • Parodied in sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Look, which features two completely incompetent film writers; the film, nominally about cricket, ends with an amateur team from Yorkshire ("Cricket? In Yorkshire?") making the final of the Ashes against a cheating German team (for those who don't know, The Ashes is a series of five matches between England and Australia; there is no 'final', it's just a best-of-five scenario).
    • Yugoslavia and the West Indies also couldn't compete, and the Ragtag Bunchof Misfits would have to join the England side to play.
    • There's also the assertion that, "There's no such thing as a draw in cricket!"
    • Let alone the lack of uniforms (mismatched casual clothing instead) and female members of the team.
    • Manchester United plays football, and the Dallas Cowboys play American football. Besides, the European Championship is played by national teams only, so Manchester United couldn't compete.
    • The players practice with Swingball toys, and swing the bats like swords or baseball bats. The German bowler windmills overhand, then stops and throws the ball underhanded.
    • The East Germans were famous cheaters, not the West Germans.
    • The umpire is obviously a football ref, and at one point the German bowler throws a football.
    • All the players have cricket bats, even the fielders and bowler
  • From The Sarah Connor Chronicles, in one episode John and Sarah are watching a chess game. When Sarah asks him to "explain what she's seeing", John replies that one of the players has just captured the other's queen, causing Sarah to demand "English, please!" Apparently, basic chess rules are far too technical for the average woman Sarah Connor.
    • Also, while the move might have had the bonus of putting the opponent in zugzwang, taking the Queen in itself is most certainly not zugzwang. (For those not fluent in chess jargon or German, zugzwang is when every move is worse than not moving, but you must.)
  • Parodied, like everything else, on The Colbert Report. After Senator Obama's acceptance speech, Stephen Colbert had former football player Tiki Barber assess the speech. He replied by saying, "As someone who knows a bit about football, I can safely say that Obama hit a home run."
  • In an episode of MythBusters testing various baseball myths, one of the "myths" tested is whether or not sliding into a base is faster than running and stopping on it. The Mythbusters do not seem to understand that the point of sliding into a base is not because it's faster, it's to avoid a tag (and on plays at second and third, to avoid overrunning the base).
    • Note that sliding versus running past first base is a speed issue; you should run past unless sliding is the only way to avoid being tagged out. However, the Mythbusters were testing sliding versus running and stopping on a base.
      • This is actually a very good demonstration. Everyone (except some moronic Major Leaguers who STILL slide through first, even without threat of a tag play) knows running through a bag is faster than sliding, but when going to second or third, where overrunning is not usually desired, sliding will be faster, because if you stay up, you have to slow down in order to stop on the bag. Or at least, that's the theory they were testing.
    • They also did an episode on "corked bats," and came to the conclusion that, since a corked bat doesn't hit a ball further, those using them were endangering their career for no reason. Adulterated bats aren't used to simply swing faster and get more power; the lighter weight allows for a faster reaction time and better contact with late-breaking pitches, and doctoring a heavy bat vice simply using a lighter one gives better reach and a better "sweet spot."
    • They also tested if it was possible to knock the cover off the ball, where they took one swing at the ball and declared that it was impossible without super strength, without taking into consideration that using the same ball over and over again might do the trick.
  • 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.
  • The IT Crowd, when the ludicrously nerdy main characters become "real men" by learning stock football phrases off the internet.
    • "Arsenal is always walking it in!" "Did you see that ludicrous display last night?"
  • Steve Coogan apparently wrote this segment from The Day Today with no knowledge of, or enthusiasm for, football, and it shows (in the best possible way). "That... was a goal!!!"
  • 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.
  • On an episode of Gilmore Girls, Lorelai says 'Nice save, Gretzky.' Wrong position.
  • 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.
  • Deliberately invoked in That '70s Show when Eric says the first time he strapped on a pair of skates was like "the first time Joe Namath laid his hands on a bat".
  • Done in a pair of Saturday Night Live sketches where the Wishmakers Foundation grants a child's desire to be a sports commentator at a professional game (football the first game, basketball the 2nd). The only football term he knows is "That'll move the chains!" and basketball, "Nothing but the bottom of the net!" This eventually gets taken to a hilarious extreme when the other commentators lets him take over to make up for complaining about the supposed disease (the kid said he had O.C.D. when asked, but this really stood for "Overwhelming Corpse Disease") and eventually begins shouting various sports terms and maneuvers all in the same sentence ending with "NOTHING BUT THE BOTTOM OF THE NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!" and then dies onscreen.
    • SNL itself 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 Doctor Who episode "The Lodger", the Eleventh Doctor's Wonka nature and Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure have been thrust Up to Eleven (so to speak), with lines like:
    "Now, football's the one with the sticks, isn't it?" note 
    • In the original series 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 
  • Stargate Atlantis has O'Neill using a sports metaphor on Weir at one point, leading to this exchange:
    Weir: I'm sorry, I don't know much about football.
    O'Neill: Nor hockey, apparently.
  • 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.
  • Played for laughs in Top Gear, with Jeremy Clarkson talking at one point about "golf bats".
  • Dick describes his Rogue Juror dilemma on 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    Dick: 'I'm the final batter. Juror number four. It's the bottom of the ninth inning and the count is eleven and one. Foster is in the penalty box waiting for the two-minute warning, but who's going to blow the whistle on him? Not the umpire. Me!
    Don: Don't watch a lot of baseball, do you Dick?
  • 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).
  • In a promo for ESPN College Gameday, the main cast are shown playing cards. Lee Corso lays down his cards with a triumphant "Straight flush!"note 
    Kirk Herbstreit:: We're playing spades!
    Corso: King me!note  (The others thrown their cards down in disgust)
  • Bottom: Culture plays it ƒor laughs and takes it up to eleven with chess. It wasn’t going to go well with Richie insisting on playing a game he admitted he didn’t know how to play…
  • Invoked in an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles. Kenzi and Deeks have to go undercover at a dog show on short notice when a retired CIA agent is murdered. The agent spent a lot of time and money to acquire a trained show dog and become familiar with how dog shows work. On the other hand, Kenzi and Deeks know almost nothing about dog shows and are told to simply let the dog do all the work. They quickly blow their cover because Doakes is incompetent as a dog handler and Kenzi does not know the proper jargon and makes a major faux pas due to not knowing the proper etiquette when discussing breeding dogs.
  • The Friends episode that centers on rugby:
    • Joey attempts to describe what is happening to the others. He says that a scrum is "like a huddle" (in American football). It is not at all, as the scrum is an active part of gameplay involving both teams, and a football huddle is simply a team's strategizing session between plays. He also says this when no scrum is visible on the screen. Granted, the entire point of the plotline is how ignorant the American characters are of the rules of rugby, so this may have been intentional.
    • Ross's game also doesn't make much sense.
      • Emily singles out a player who doesn't wear a cup. In reality, rugby laws are very strict on protective clothing - wearing cups are not permitted. The same goes for Ross's knee pads.
      • Rugby referees generally don't wear zebra clothing.
      • The signal to half time is blown while the ball is in play. First half can only end when there is a stoppage of play.
      • The scrum is missing the halfbacks, and you can't join a scrum after it has started. Granted, that scene was entirely Played for Laughs - you also can't join a scrum head first.
  • 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.

  • Jonathan Coulton's "Kenesaw Mountain Landis" invokes this intentionally for comic effect, as well as a complete misunderstanding of the historical facts surrounding the Black Sox scandal.
  • "Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen. "Speedball", Bruce? Try fastball.
  • "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.
  • "Weep Day" by They Might Be Giants: "pitching for the Oakland Raiders". But the lyrics are loaded with contradictions, so it's intentional.
  • The music video for George Ezra's "Blame It on Me" features rugby players engaged in what looks like a cross between a ruck and a scrum, played with an American football.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, when Calvin is teased into playing baseball at school, he says "Suppose they make me a halfback. Can I tackle the shortstop or not?"
    • When Calvin and Hobbes aren't playing Calvinball, they'll be making a mockery of any actual sport they try, usually baseball but also football, croquet and golf. As the boy himself puts it: "Our favourite games are ones we don't understand!" And sometimes, it's deliberate.
    "If you don't want to play with old geezers, you have to make golf a contact sport!"
    • Played completely straight in the strip where the two are playing Monopoly, and Calvin has to "rob" the bank to pay the rent he owes Hobbes. Calvin landed on Baltic Ave. which is the 2nd cheapest property in the game; rent with hotels there is still only $450, hardly requiring the "few thousand" he tries to steal - especially since he would have had to pass Go and collect $200 to land there.
  • In addition to the quote at the top, FoxTrot has done this a zillion times. One memorable one has Jason at a basketball game complaining that he has to "watch a bunch of eight-foot geeks kick balls through goalposts for two hours" and asks which one is the quarterback. Also, this.
  • In Peanuts, Charlie Brown's baseball team often lost games by lopsided margins like 100 to 1. However, American Little League Baseball has the Mercy Rule, which stops the game early to avoid such humiliation. While Charlie Brown is certainly stubborn enough to keep playing, there is no mention of the umpire enforcing, or even bringing up the rule. Also, their games always last nine innings, while Little League games only go six. Often justified, however; while it's varied from year to year, it's usually stated that Charlie Brown's team doesn't play official Little League baseball, as he usually schedules games with managers himself, and plot arcs have had the owner of the sandlot preventing the games for liability issues.
    • Also invoked when Rerun, a new recruit to Charlie Brown's baseball team, is convinced that they're playing in the finals of the Stanley Cup.
    • Besides, the visiting team can't win via the Mercy Rule until the home team has had a chance to answer. Since a team continues to bat until the defense can make three outs, it's theoretically possible for the visitors to score 90 runs in one inning and only then be retired and proceed to shut out the home team in the bottom of the inning.
    • One strip has Lucy happily declaring, "I love playing hockey ball!"
  • Any time a sporting event is held in Safe Havens, it's a good bet that the rules of the game will be sacrificed to the Rule of Funny. Examples include the university band playing during game action in a basketball game (which would result in a bench technical - two free throws + possession for the other team - in real life) and Dave being allowed to wear sunglasses with a built-in MP3 player (Only protective or prescription eye wear is allowed).
    • And thre's also Dave being an apparently successful player in the Italian leagues, despite being a one-trick pony on the court (he's an incredible passer, but he's of high-side-of-average height, slow of foot with no vertical and can't shoot).
  • This Get Fuzzy manages a triple.

    Video Games 
  • Portal 2 has Wheatley, the local, sentient Idiot Ball:
    "Well, no matter, because I'm still holding all the cards. And guess what? They're all full houses."
    "Ace of fours! The best hand. Unbeatable! ...I would imagine."
  • There are several things odd about the boxing in Punch-Out!!. To begin with, the series seem to have no concept of weight divisions, which results in the comparatively scrawny Glass Joe being in the same group as Fat Bastard King Hippo. And then there are characters like Hoy Quarlow who use weapons.
    • Similar to the Blades of Glory and Speed Racer examples above, the World Video Boxing Association is under no compulsion to obey standard boxing rules.
  • Blitz: The League. The entire game is devoted to the Rule of Cool, at the expense of any pretense of realism (are there any referees?). However, in this case, it is something of a Justified Trope, as the series' makers are on record calling the NFL the "No Fun League" for forcing their licensed football titles to be squeaky-clean in terms of content, which pretty much forbids developers from even alluding to any of the shadier aspects of American Football culture. When EA got exclusive rights to the NFL license, Midway was more than happy to go completely over the top with their latest Blitz title, bringing in notorious ex-linebacker Lawrence Taylor as their spokesman, and hiring the writers of ESPN's controversial hit Playmakers to write the story.
    • In fact, BTL actually was a Playmakers licensed game, until the NFL forced ESPN to kill the show. Also, take in mind that Blitz was not the first time Midway made a Ain't No Rule style sports game: Arch Rivals is one of their earlier attempts at the genre, which they then followed with the popular NBA Jam series.
  • In Brain Dead 13, Moose, the Frankenstein's Monster-esque jock, talks vaguely sports related gibberish when you're fighting him.
    Moose: "Alright, squirt! Third down, bases are loaded, and we're pullin' the goalie!"
    Obscure Game Theatre: "That... didn't make any sense!"
  • Practically all licensed sports titles avert this trope, due to their focus on providing the most realistic sports experiences possible for fans of the sport. A few, however, go in a less realistic, more arcade direction, realizing that some players feel that increased accessibility and the Rule of Cool are more important than a simulation experience. Examples include Midway's NBA Ballers games and EA's Street series of sports games. A former licensed example would be Midway's NFL Blitz series (in which piledrivers and suplexes are the standard tackling techniques), until they lost the license to EA.
    • EA Sports' cancelled NBA Elite '11 is one glaring exception. Even when you put aside the visual glitches and gaffes that break the realistic feel, the game has some very fundamental problems with the rules, including one bug that increases the score counter before an attempted shot touches the basket. (This could simply be the game revealing that it had calculated the result of the shot before the graphical representation showed it, but it still breaks immersion badly.)
    • EA's Rugby 08 has several problems (e.g. with the rules too), like scrums going to the wrong team when the ball is unplayable in the ruck, and losing penalty advantage if the ball goes into touch... And other touches such as being able to kick the ball away when expecting a tackle (probably a limitation of the programming but still something one should be able to do). The commentators often seem lacking in insight, despite one of them being an actual former All-black, Grant Fox.
    • EA's NCAA football series (the college-aged sister game of Madden NFL) mistakenly has a hard roster limit, like the NFL. While the NCAA does have limits on the # of scholarships you can disburse and the # of players you can dress for games, the actual team is much larger than this and provides important reserves for training and injuries.
  • As seen in the image at the top of the page, Super Mario World 's "Chargin' Chuck" enemies wore American Football uniforms. While some attacked you with footballs, others would attack with baseballs. Even others resorted to non-sports activities, such as digging up large rocks with shovels, whistling underwater to summon a school of fish to swarm Mario, leaping through the air, or splitting into 3 copies of itself.
    • An official Nintendo of America strategy guide called the baseball-throwing Chuck a "Confused Chuck".
    • The large rocks guys might be playing lacrosse. Except for the large rocks part.
  • In Poker Night at the Inventory, Max's grasp of the rules and terminology of poker is shaky at best. His strategy is erratic, he sometimes believes he's playing Hearts, and will occasionally fold even when he knows he has a good hand. At one point he even asks the player if the little numbers on the cards mean anything.
  • The NES ice hockey game Blades of Steel. Apart from milder stuff like doing away with offsides and the two-line pass rule (which was in effect in the NHL when the game was on the market), it has a few hilarious rules: when a fight breaks out (due to routine contact — it was almost impossible to knock a player off the puck without starting a fight), the two players throw down their gloves and duke it out, and then whoever loses the fight is dragged off by the referee for a two-minute penalty while the clock resumes ticking and the play simply continues for the other (presumably gloveless) player where he left off. Also, starting a fight between the faceoff circles in your own zone granted the other team a penalty shot. Again, there was no real other way to play defense.
  • In Fortune Street, when Birdo is selected as an opponent on Mario Baseball, she proclaims that it's time to hit the gridiron before wondering if she got it right.
  • Played for cheese in Double Dragon Neon: whenever Billy or Jimmy hits an enemy with a baseball bat, they occasionally shout totally inaccurate one-liners like "Touchdown!" or "Hole in one!"
  • Retro City Rampage plays with this in one of the first missions. You go into a hat store holding a baseball bat, greet the clerk with "How about that local sports team, eh?" and then buy a hockey mask saying that it will help improve your golf game. Specifically your slam dunk.
    Player: "Sports."
  • Pretty much all the Mario sports games. One would imagine setting the equipment on fire would be illegal, but it's Mario's standard special move.
  • In Tomodachi Life, Miis with the soccer ball gift will occasionally make soccer passes...on the beach.

    Web Animation 
  • According to The Other Wiki (link), Homestar Runner got its name from a friend of The Brothers Chaps having gotten his sports lingo all mixed up.
    • The Brother Chaps themselves gave Gretzky the ball in Issue 10 of the spinoff series Teen Girl Squad. In the cartoon, a Scotsman caber-tosses Cheerleader and is disgusted that his throw only goes 23 meters. Success in the caber toss is measured by straightness, not distance. The Chaps point out their mistake in the DVD commentary.
    • In Teen Girl Squad Issue 5, Whats-Her-Face is watching Thomas skateboard. He's announced as doing a "360 Shove It to Boneless". A Boneless is an ollie (jump) move, and thus can't be linked to this way.
  • Ghoulia has one in an episode of Monster High where she challenges the Dodge Ball team. Using her calculation she drops the ball and kicks it into the ventilation system which shoots it out hitting the walls and hits all the players. Anyone familiar with the game of dodge ball knows full well that if the ball hits anything aside from another person (such as the floor or walls or if said person catches it) the ball is considered out of play and cannot be considered an out, so the ball was out of play just as she dropped the ball. But still the show treats it as if she won.

    Web Comics 
  • This happens in a couple of MS Paint Masterpieces strips, in which Mega Man and Ice Man play basketball... with a bat.
  • Sinfest:
  • Done for humor in Norwegian satire webcomic Fantastic-Man, where the titular Super Hero uses a piece of wood to bat a thrown grenade back at his enemies while spouting VERY wrong baseball terminology.
  • Also done for humor in Penny Arcade, where Gabe mixes sports lingo in a desperate attempt to pretend he knows what game is going on that weekend.
    • In one strip, the guys are playing a football video game. Gabe criticizes it for not being an accurate simulation of the sport, since there's no ice.
  • Moe
    The ball is in your court. Er, no I mean, the ball is in your half of the court. Shouldn't that be the expression? I don't think there are any sports that use more than one court.
  • Maybe not the most glaring example, but in El Goonish Shive on this page, in the field shown, home plate is inverted.
  • In Homestuck, Dave's attempt to talk Rose out of her suicide mission devolves into a fantastic series of bungled sports metaphors; thoroughly lampshaded in that they're both aware that neither has any idea what they're talking about.
  • Every Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff comic involving sports lives and breathes this trope as part of its Stylistic Suck shtick.
  • In one Nip and Tuck strip, Tuck is watching "WCW Wrestlemania." Wrestlemania is put on by WWE.
  • In one strip from PHD, Professor Rivera uses a horribly butchered metaphor to describe his conflicting feelings about a job offer from another university.
    Professor Rivera: I gotta take the puck, run with it and score a bogie.
    Tagel: I don't think we're really qualified to make sports analogies.

    Web Video 
  • Episode 54 of Awesome Video Games mixes references to game shows at one point. Dad kicks it off when he says that his historical knowledge "has been likened to one Pat Sajak."
  • The Nostalgia Critic's review of Warriors of Virtue, which he gets so bored with that he cuts away to a Chicago Bears game. This may be Conviction by Contradiction, but not many sports fans shout "Go! Go! Go!" when their team is on defense.
  • kyle:
    Benjils is a player and a coach and makes the worst calls! If he gets through the series he'll be a Hall-of-Famer but he isn't even up for 80 yet!
  • Vaguely Recalling JoJo: The Star Platinum team in Telence's baseball game are dressed like soccer players. The lead Star Platinum even holds a soccer ball. In fact, they do terribly against the Atum team at first. Also, one of the Star Platinum pitchers throws a soccer ball instead of a baseball.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Futurama by the legendary Zapp Brannigan, only with board and parlor games:
    Brannigan: If we can hit that bullseye, then the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.
    • Also:
    Brannigan: In the game of chess, you can never let your adversary see your pieces.
    • Also from Futurama, in the episode "A Leela of Her Own" (parodying the film A League of Their Own), Leela becomes the first ever female professional Blernsball player, a game that is made out to be the future version of baseball. In the episode, it is mentioned that Leela has pitched 77.0 innings without recording a single out. In baseball, a pitcher is only credited with innings pitched if they record outs. Possibly handwaved, since it is blernsball, not baseball.
      • It's worth noting that Futurama isn't even consistent with its own rules. When blernsball is introduced in "Fear of a Bot Planet," Fry's knowledge of baseball rules and lingo make him seem like an idiot, since none of it is valid for blernsball. But in "A Leela of Their Own," blernsball's rules are almost identical to baseball, and much of the terminology used comes from baseball.
  • South Park While it's largely the point that hockey rules are ignored in "Stanley's Cup", there's one glaring error in the final game: no Red Wings player can wear #9. That number was retired after Gordie Howe left the game.
  • In the W.I.T.C.H. episode "V is for Victory", the writers got certain aspects of a swim meet wrong. All Will needed to do to win the gold was to get a good time in the semifinals (she didn't have to win it), then win the finals. Her coach told that she needed to win the next two races. Furthermore, Will should be in lane 3 or 4 in the finals, as she won the semis (she was in lane 2).
  • Dexter of Dexter's Laboratory, being the overly stereotypical nerd he is, is quite naive when it comes to sports. One episode had him distract his dad by constantly asking inane questions in regards to a golf tournament they were watching:
    Dexter's Dad: What? What'd I miss? What just happened?
    Dexter: Looked like a popfly into the endzone.
  • It's not clear how The Mighty Ducks haven't gotten reamed out by their league for having no coach, being below a minimum roster requirement, having a goalie in the role of captain, having a player wear #00, and other irregularities. But at least there Ain't No Rule against giant anthropomorphic ducks playing.
    • The goalie-captain rule is kind of relaxed, though: see Roberto Luongo.
      • Not Strictly true - Luongo was captain in an honorary position - hence why the 'C' is on his mask and not his Jersey
    • The rule banning #00 from use is league-specific. The NHL, for example, didn't have that rule until the late 1990s. The reason it was added to the books? The league bought a new statistic-tracking system that broke if a player's number was less than 1. Rather than fix the software they banned #00.
  • In an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, at the climax of a football showdown with their rivals, Perfecto Prep, it looks like Buster kicks Plucky off the team for signaling plays to Perfecto. But as he reaches the sideline, he suddenly turns around catches a quick out from Buster, catching Perfecto off-guard and scoring the winning points. (It helped that they'd scammed Perfecto with a fake playbook). In reality, on every level of organized football there is in Americanote , the play would've resulted in a five-yard Illegal Procedure penalty for Plucky being too far off the ball and for moving non-laterally when the ball was snapped.
    • The Sega Genesis game Tiny Toon Adventures: Acme All Stars Sports Special, pretty much thrived on Rule of Funny regarding this trope. Between soccer and basketball, the characters rode the ball around, flew across the court with it in their mouths, and could even run over the other players with a car or mecha-suit. And harass and immobilize other players (yes, we're talking about Elmyra Duff)....
      • The game also allowed you to pull off special moves in the bowling minigame, including attacks that blow up the pins...
    • On the other hand, a fairly uncommon but legal trick play is having the quarterback move towards the sideline, pantomiming something wrong to the sidelines, and while he does that, the ball is snapped to the running back to start the play. As long as the QB was the only man in motion, and following the motion rules (not running towards the line of scrimmage), that's a legal play.
  • Rocket Power: One episode has Reggie and her team winning a volleyball game 15-14. In volleyball (and for that matter, tennis and badminton), you have to win by two.
  • In Johnny Test, Johnny goes skiing and is denied access to a trail due to it being "NK-13", for no kids under age 13. Trail markers do not work that way, despite the size or difficulty. Though it's unlikely they'd want 10-year-olds going on double-diamond trails, they don't regulate it.
  • Parodied in an episode of the Casper animated series where the Ghostly Trio decide to participate in a golf tournament and Stretch vows they will "get the highest score ever seen!". Casper, of course points out that's not how it works.
  • The Simpsons episode "Lisa On Ice" takes a few liberties with Ice Hockey. No kids league allows checking, much less checking in the back and sending someone face first into the glass. That's illegal even in the NHL. The clock doesn't run on penalty shots, undermining the cute ending. And Bart is shown repeatedly skating past the entire defense only to stop outside the blue line for a slapshot. Technically, that's a legal play but incredibly insane. In this case there Ain't No Rule but the Rule of Funny and Rule of Drama.
    • Keep in mind, this is Springfield we're talking about here...
    • At one point, Homer tried to cheat at golf giving himself higher scores. A passerby pointed this out.
      • That passerby happened to be then-PGA Tour pro Tom Kite, who also doesn't like it when people (specifically Homer) steal his clubs and shoes.
  • In Kim Possible, there was one episode where they run a play called a flea flicker. Here's the thing: one, a flea flicker is a play where the quarterback gives the ball to the runningback, who fakes like he's going to run with it, but then turns around and tosses it back to the quarterback. Ron never even attempts a pass. Two, it was on a field goal, so it would've been more appropriate to call it a fake field goal. And three, they had Ron out there with a kicker and the placeholder, which meant the fake should've been seen a mile away.
  • In King of the Hill, Bill is Arlen High's record-holder for most touchdowns, until a kid ties him but injures himself on the play. In the next game, the opposing team lets him walk into the endzone on crutches to claim the record. Crutches are not allowed on the playing field. Then, the coach of Arlen High (who was Bill's coach and still respected him) and Hank realize that Bill never officially graduated because he left early to join the Army. So he suits up for one game to tie the record. Texas High School football has a hard age limit, regardless of academic status.
    • Truth in Television: this was a parody of a real-life incident involving University of Connecticut women's basketball star Nykesha Sales. [1]
  • Intentionally done in The Penguins of Madagascar when the penguins try to play hockey against the sewer rats. King Julien is assigned as a cheerleader, and tries to demoralise the rats;
    "You probably can't even get the ball into the hoopy-thingy!"
    "It's called a puck."
    "Oh, thanks ... You probably can't even get the ball into the puck thingy!"
  • In an episode of Family Guy Peter says...
    Peter: You're like the Arnold Palmer of golf!
  • In the American Dad! episode "Return of the Bling", Roger is revealed to have been a member of the 1980 US Olympic Ice Hockey team. In photos, he's shown playing against Italy. The Italian hockey team was not at the 1980 Olympics.
  • Clyde Crashcup "invents" baseball, starting with a haphazardly designed diamond. He has the ball, and Leonardo (his assistant) has the bat. Clyde's first instruction: "Pitch the bat!" Leonardo does, and knocks Clyde on his back. "Perfect."
  • Completely averted in NFL Rush Zone Guardians Of The Core. Most likely due to the involvement of the NFL in its production.
  • The ending of the Goofy cartoon Hockey Homicide features this- as an added bonus, they use scenes from other Goofy sports cartoons, Victory Through Air Power, and even Pinocchio to add to the confusion.

  • Chess. Any chess game played between over-competitive nerds is always done wrongly. There is never a clock. The players move absurdly quickly (especially as there is no clock!). They never record their moves (which is required in any competitive game). They do not shake hands before or after (even if they hate each other, they would still do it, in a snarky way). Worst of all, a player wins a decisive advantage by killing his/her opponent's queen. (This only really happens in beginner's games; in a game between talented players, a tiny material advantage or a slightly advantageous position would be enough.) The game always ends in checkmate, even though it's standard practice to resign when one's opponent is guaranteed to win. Finally, the game is never drawn, even though our heroes are supposedly both brilliant players, and perhaps 60% of top-level games are draws.
    • In fairness, in a casual game, much of the above can be ignored, such as not writing down moves or using a clock. There's no excuse if it's a tournament game, though.
    • Let's not forget the bit where one player puts his opponent in check and the opponent checkmates him on the next move. It's technically possible, but there are very few situations where a single move can put one's own king out of danger's way and completely trap the opposing king. It generally requires the losing player not to pay close attention, and the winning player almost always wins because of sheer luck rather than planning.
      • Here is a list of eight high-level games where check was answered by checkmate.
    • The "no draws" thing can be justified by the Rule of Drama, though. Unless it's an Evasive Fight Thread Episode, in which case you might see a draw.
    • Chess players always shout "check" when they deliver it; among professionals it would be rather rude.
      • It could be worse. The opening of one episode of Justice League Unlimited has Aquaman playing Hawkgirl at chess. At one point, Aquaman announces "check in 5". (That should be "mate in 5".)
    • Also the all-too common cases where a character is shown to be smart in that he can either win most games of chess in less than ____ moves or can think 10/20/you name it moves ahead.
    • In Sailor Moon episode 71, Ami and Berthier replay a real-life game between Spassky and Fischer. Ami continues after the point at which Spassky resigned - and wins. (There have been cases where players resigned and analysts later discovered a possible winning continuation, but the game in question is not one of them.)
    • Oddly enough, this was Averted in House, hand-shaking and all. Of course, the Patient Of The Week was one of the contestants, and his first showing symptom was that he leaped over the table and beat his opponent to a pulp with the clock, but that's neither here nor there.
    • A newspaper strip called Big Nate did an arc about the title character taking part in a middle school chess competition, and wonderfully averted the statement above about players never shaking hands. Each time he shook hands with an opponent, Nate psyched him with a different bit of trash talk, including the simple statement, "Your hands are all sweaty." (The other kid stammered that he had a glandular problem, and Nate thought, "He's mine.")
    • And the board positions (if shown) themselves! God, the positions on the board! Pawns on the eight ranks. Bishops on the same colors. Both kings in check simultaneously. Three of the same piece with all 8 pawns still on the board. Quadrupled and quintupled pawns. In general a mishmash of board configurations that are either completely illegal or even if just barely legal, mindblowingly unlikely to ever occur in any real game between actual real players.
    • Briefly parodied in an episode of Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (Series 5, Episode 3: Re-Animated), where the layout of pieces and the 'checkmate' is clearly wrong.
    • The episode of Family Ties where Alex plays chess against a Russian is an interesting case. They actually got many of the details right, including the use of the chess clock. But the presence of live commentary in the same room was more than a little silly, Alex's whole moral dilemma for the episode is created by ignoring the sealed-move rule for adjournments, and of course, for some reason the Russian who suddenly decides he wants to lose can't simply do so by resigning.
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey: HAL, playing chess with Bowman, gets a few details mixed up, but it's a very subtle error that could only be spotted by a chess wizard. It can also be taken as Foreshadowing that something's very, very, very wrong with HAL.
      • Stanely Kubrick was a borderline professional level chess player and the board position was taken directly from a masters level game. It seems pretty unlikely that HAL misreading the board was anything other than foreshadowing.
    • Played for laughs in Futurama where one of two robots playing chess declares: "Mate in 137 moves!" - from the opening position.
    • In the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone movie, Harry starts out as the white-square bishop but clearly delivers checkmate while traveling on a black square diagonal. While his starting square is not directly shown, the king-side white bishop always starts on a white square.
      • One of the areas in which the film actually improved on the book is that the film's portrayal of chess is much more accurate. In the book, it's generally pretty obvious J. K. Rowling has never touched a chess board in her life. For example, Ron at one point is said to take "one step forward", despite the fact that he is playing a knight (this error and some others were fixed in later reprintings).
    • An episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh had the characters trying to play chess. Rabbit, the only one who knows anything about the game at all, points out that "some" of the pieces are missing — from the way he describes it, it sounds like he only expects there to be one of each kind to begin with. And also a magician. This is ultimately all in service of them "playing the missing pieces" — yep, this turns out to be an RPG Episode, complete with Tigger as "the Bish-Hop of Bounce" and rabbit as the Inept Mage.
    • A particular episode of Smart Guy made just about every error you ever see, as well as a few completely new ones. In addition to having the board set up wrong, there was one scene where the black player made the opening move, and the protagonist's solution to defeating an advanced chess computer was to make completely nonsensical moves, which would have never worked in real life. (In fact, one of these moves that was deemed to be "nonsensical" was moving the knight out first, which, according to chessgames.com's database, is actual the third most popular opening move among professional players, out of 20 possible opening moves, making this not even wrong).
    • Star Trek suffers from this whenever chess comes up. While the rules of 3-D chess are more complex than the rules of regular chess, there is no reason that Counselor Troi should be able to win against Data by making irrational moves.
  • Probably just about every work of fiction involving Cricket that wasn't written by a professional player or umpire.
  • Rugby-playing fictional characters almost always play by the Rule of Cool. They participate in scrums (a duty for the forwards) but can also outrun opponents and score long range tries (a duty for the backs). Their bodytype is often wrong for their position as well. For example, above-average height is crucial for locks competing in the lineout, and props need to be stocky enough not to get pushed around in the scrum.

  • Private Eye has the spoof sports columnist Sally Jockstrap. A typical Jockstrap column might say how pleased she is that Michael Owen (a footballer) is playing in the Six Nations (a rugby tournament) and she hopes he scores a six (a cricketing term) against Paraguay (not one of the six nations, but at this point it hardly matters).
    • Although there is a Welsh Rugby Union player called Michael Owen, which was confusing to overhear in recent commentary.
  • It's very rare for Professional Wrestling to be portrayed as anything less than 100% real in fiction. In fact, many wrestling movies even feature the hero's refusal to take a dive to satisfy a shady promoter as a pivotal plot point. This may have been forgivable back in the day, when the average film or TV show's "Technical Consultant" would be trying to uphold Kayfabe, but in the modern day, when even Vince McMahon himself admits it to be staged, one might think to take a look at the world behind the curtain...
    • Of particular note here is an episode of Quantum Leap in which Sam leaps into the body of a wrestler playing an Foreign Wrestling Heel Russian; in this episode, it's confidently declared that wrestling actually is staged — except for the title matches, and Sam and his partner's refusal to take a dive in a tag-team title match is the main conflict of the episode.
    • In Forrest Gump (the novel), Forrest spends some time as a professional wrestler during a time when the fact that wrestling is staged is a carefully guarded secret. He's supposed to lose an important match, but a friend of his tells Forrest to break the script and try to win for real so they can make money on a bet. And actually, this is a fairly accurate description of how wrestling worked back in the day, as some wrestlers would "go into business for themselves"; usually, though, this was for higher stakes than just a bet, as it tended to get a wrestler blackballed.
    • Subverted, oddly enough, in an episode of Family Matters—a series of unfortunate events lead Carl and Steve to replace the Psycho Twins (including dressing in their costumes) in a match against the Bushwhackers. While they do take liberties—wrestlers exchanging friendly jokes and commentary isn't unheard of, but except in certain character-based situations they wouldn't shout it across the ring at each other—the Bushwhackers are portrayed as guys doing a job, and they're impressed at how Carl and Steve are doing well for "a couple of blokes off the street". However, when Steve mentions that Carl's a cop, suddenly It's Personal and the Bushwhackers stop pulling their punches, looking to actually hurt them. That this would get them suspended at the least if they were the top wrestler in the company and related to the boss isn't brought up afterward.
    • On the other hand, to perpetuate the "Wrestling is real" phenomenon, whenever someone yells "Wrestling is Fake" in a TV show, rest assured any wrestler who hears it will wade into the crowd and show him just how "fake" it is. Apparently blatant assault with hundreds to thousands of witnesses is pretty casual. Unless the guy's a plant...
      • Also, many more extreme professional wrestlers do take offense to people calling it "fake" because it implies they aren't actually doing their impressive stunts. Yes, the matches are played up to look a lot more like real fights, and the winner is often pre-determined, but as Mick Foley would point out, there is no way to "fake" jumping twenty feet through a table covered in thumbtacks.
    • This is totally inverted by the fandom. Browse through the wrestling section at fanfiction.net and compare how much of it is based on Kayfabe to how much of it is basically Real Person Fic.
    • Naturally averted in The Wrestler, where Kayfabe at the lower levels of the game is quite accurately portrayed—and celebrated (sort of), being presented as its own kind of art, which Mickey Rourke's character is only too happy to risk his life for.
    • One ot the most consistent errors in any TV or movie reference to professional wrestling is the frequent use of a move called a "piledriver" (often with the out of place modifier of "flying" or "atomic" piledriver) which never used for the actual wrestling move of that name. One particular example came in the movie of George of the Jungle where he anounces a move as an "atomic piledriver" which is quite clearly an elbow drop.
      • It's especially interesting since the actual piledriver, where a wrestler is picked up, held upside down, then his opponent drops to the ground, appearing to spike his head into the mat, is outright banned in most companies since, while it can be done safely, there is a high risk for head and neck damage should anything go wrong. The only real exception to the rule in WWE is The Undertaker's Tombstone Piledriver, which hangs around because of a Grandfather Clause and because Taker has a two-decade track record proving he can do the move safely (and likely because the Undertaker's age has guaranteed he only works part-time now.)
    • One case that's surprisingly accurate happens in Married... with Children; Bud dresses up as the "Bumblebee" in order to sneak himself and Kelly backstage of a wrestling event. Eventually Bud ends up in what's obviously supposed to be a Squash Match against real life pro wrestler King Kong Bundy. King Kong is initially polite to Bud and agrees to go easy on him when he notices how nervous he is. Unfortunately, Bud ends up tripping in the ring and accidentally trying to to pin Bundy when his back is turned, leading Bundy to think Bud was playing a fast one at which point he proceeds to completely demolish him.
  • If Segata Sanshiro wants a football team to win, it will win. He did get called out for it in the second one.
  • In MAD's parody of The White Shadow, the coach goes on a date with a woman who tells him, "Oh, I love basketball! I just love it when the batter kicks a touchdown basket."
  • Pretty much every depiction of poker in film or TV features a line to the effect of, "I see your bet and raise you...". In real life, this is a 'string bet' and the player would be forced to only call. Potentially justified if they're only playing informally in their kitchen (since the characters are usually not experts and are really only interested in trying to one-up each other,) but on the rare occasion when it takes place in an actual casino, it becomes a problem.
  • This cake.
  • These T-shirts, invoking the trope for laughs.
  • The Angry DM — a blogger writing about the theory of running Tabletop RPGs as a DM, GM, or whatever they call it in whatever system you use — makes a running gag of intentionally butchering sportsball metaphors wherever possible. For example, from Page 2 of "Everyone's A Leader In Their Own Way":
    Returning briefly to the example of hockeying: a good defensive hockeyist cannot stop at simply preventing the other team's offenders from kicking the ball into the hoop. If the defender simply tackles the offender and sends the ball flying off across the court in some random direction, he has protected his net, but he hasn't really done much for the team beyond that. Instead, the defender should try to steal the ball and pass it to one of his own offenders so that offender can now try to score a check mate.

    Real Life 
  • After the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals played to a tie in 2008, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb revealed after the game that he had no idea NFL games could end in a tie. Other players stepped up to defend McNabb's gaffe. Most notably Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who stated that probably half the league's players wouldn't know that rule. It's usually spelled out by the referee at the beginning of any overtime period, and if the refs don't, the announcers will. Also, NFL standings have a column for ties.
  • In a 2009 game between the Bengals and the Browns, broadcaster Rich Gannon debated whether the Bengals should run down the clock before kicking an overtime field goal, so as not to allow the Browns time to return a kick. His broadcast partner helpfully reminded him that NFL overtime (under then-existing rules) is sudden death.
  • Lukas Podolski said, "Soccer is like chess, only without the dice." Although chess was played with dice in the 1400s (which led some churches to ban it due to considering it a form of gambling), one really doubts Podolski knew that.
  • Shoeless Joe Jackson had the puck in the form of House Member Christopher Shays' "In 1919 the Chicago Blackhawks Scandal...", apparently referring to the "Black Sox scandal" where players of the Chicago White Sox baseball team fixed the 1919 World Series. The Chicago Blackhawks is an ice hockey team founded in 1926.
  • When Sarah Palin resigned the Alaska governorship, she described herself as a "point guard"...and then it got weird. The fact that she played as a point guard in high school and majored in sports journalism just adds to the absurdity.
  • More than one retired baseball umpire has admitted he had no idea how to correctly identify and call a balk on a pitcher. For reference, Here's The Other Wiki's page on balks
  • The book "The Stupidest Things Ever Said By Politicians" gives us this beauty of an analogy:
    At the end of the field is a field goal and what if the referee were to move the field goal every inning and carry the ball over the finish line.
  • Many boxing fans don't seem to realize that the referee and the timekeeper have no official relationship during a fight, and thus unfairly accuse a ref of screwing a fighter with a decision that didn't take time into account. The most infamous examples:
    • The "Long Count Fight" of 1927 where Gene Tunney retained the heavyweight title against Jack Dempsey. Many people felt Dempsey was robbed of a knockout win when he floored Tunney in the seventh round because referee Dave Barry spent five seconds ordering Dempsey to go to a neutral corner before starting the count. By the rules, however, this was exactly what Barry should have done since Dempsey didn't immediately do so (many also don't realize this was the first title fight ever to use the neutral corner rule). Some boxing fans have suggested Barry was supposed to have checked with the timekeeper and adjusted his count accordingly; however, there is nothing in the rules saying that's what he should have done.
    • The 1990 Julio César Chávez–Medrick Taylor fight when referee Richard Steele declared Chávez the winner by TKO with two seconds remaining in the final round. Since many observers believed Taylor was ahead on points and would have won had the clock run out, they were appalled that Steele didn't check the clock and just let it run. But Steele's job was only to see if Chávez's last minute assault left Taylor unable to continue regardless of the time, and since Taylor didn't respond to Steele twice asking if he was okay, it was the right call.
  • Brett Hull's goal that won the 1999 Stanley Cup for the Dallas Stars is regarded as one of the worst officiating moves in sports history on the claims that Hull was illegally in the goalie crease. Much of this is based on the Buffalo coach's accusation that the officials refused to review the goal because they didn't want to have to clear the ice and resume the game upon being proven wrong. While the goal itself is debatable, the officials have insisted they DID review the play and ruled that since Hull kicked the puck with his skate, he had possession and the goal was therefore legal.
    • It gets even more absurd. NHL rules clearly state that if the puck is kicked into the net, it is declared no goal.
    • When the NHL shortly thereafter announced that goals in the crease were no longer reviewable plays, everyone assumed they were covering their tracks because of the Hull goal, but the league had made that decision before the Stanley Cup Finals began.
  • ESPN did a preview of the EURO 2012. Apparently Argentina participates in the European championship, there are only 16 games instead of over 30 and Cristiano Ronaldo looks exactly like Ronaldo (de Lima).
  • In Sept. 2012, Old Navy released a line of licensed NFL t-shirts, emblazoned with the date of every team's last, highest playoff win. note  They also made several glaring errors:
    • Detroit and Cleveland were credited with the 1957 and 1960 NFC championships, respectively. Detroit was the 1957 National Football League champions. There was no National Football Conference until the 1970 merger of the National and American Football Leagues. Furthermore, Cleveland did not play in the 1960 NFL Championship. Philadelphia defeated Green Bay for the Eagles' final championship to date.
    • The New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs were tabbed as NFL Champions in 1968 and 1969. They were AFL champions and winners of the last two pre-merger Super Bowls.
    • The most egregious error was the Houston Texans being credited with the 1961 AFC championship. Neither the AFC nor the Texans existed in 1961. The Texans didn't exist until 2002; the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) were the AFL champions (they played the Dallas Texans, who became the Chiefs in 1964).
  • American sports commentators sometimes use the phrase "an old-fashioned rugby scrum" to describe a chaotic mess with players piled on top of each other, or even an outright fight. However, a rugby scrum is structured and tightly regulated. Rucks and mauls, on the other hand, are a different story.