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Throwing the Fight
Marsellus: In the fifth, your ass goes down. Say it.
Butch: In the fifth, my ass goes down.

Taking a dive. Fixing the match. Intentionally losing a sporting event, usually for monetary gain. You coulda been a contender, but instead, your ass goes down in the fifth. A nice fun intersection between the world of professional sports and the world of organized crime.

People who take a dive may be doing so entirely for the paycheck, but they also may be getting their arms twisted by The Mafia with threats of physical harm, either to themselves or to a loved one. In that case, it's not uncommon to see the athlete back out of the deal, thus making them some powerful enemies (and sometimes not escaping them). In Real Life, those who get caught doing this can suffer some serious repercussions, most notably during the Black Sox scandal of 1919.

However, this is one trope which is Defied more often than it's played straight. Our hero decides that he's not going to be anyone's Unwitting Pawn any more, that the Only in It for the Money / Money, Dear Boy is no longer worth the loss of dignity. This of course costs a lot of dangerous people a lot of money, which they're not likely to be very happy about.

See also Fixing The Game.

Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • During the Chunnin Exams in Naruto, Gaara was threatened requested by Tsuba and Midori of Kusagakure to take a dive in his fight with Sasuke. He refused.
  • Malcolm Gedo from Hajime No Ippo makes it a habit to throw fights, but not without asking his opponents for an substantial fee, which the opponents understandably see as an insult.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, it was revealed that Dragan lost his previous duel with Jack to get money for his injured father. He isn't happy about it, and when he finds out, neither is Jack.
  • The first City Hunter story features a boxer by the name of Inagaki who intimidates his opponents into throwing fights against him, with the ultimate aim of becoming champion. He murdered Shunichi Ogino, his only obstacle to the title match, after his girlfriend Megumi Iwasaki nursed him back to health following a hit-and-run that Inagaki was also behind. He then threatened to murder the daughter of the champion Mita if he didn't throw the fight, but is stopped by Ryo Saeba, who was hired to take out Inagaki by Megumi, and who ultimately kills him with a solid gold bullet fired into his ear canal at the exact moment that Mita's final punch connected.
  • An involuntary variant is part of Ken's backstory in Weiß Kreuz - he was a J-League goalie and was drugged without his knowledge to fix a game, then blamed for throwing it. His efforts at finding out who was responsible ultimately lead him to join Weiss.
  • In a storyline in the Tenchi Muyo! manga series, the assistant for a popular restaurant owner and chef requests to Sasami that she throw her match against the man's son, telling her that the man's been pressuring him to win three "Ferrous Chef" matches (think Iron Chef) and that this would be his third and the kid could finally be free. However, Sasami ends up refusing, saying that she wouldn't feel right if she didn't give her all. Others attempt to stop her in the process, but she ends up coming out on top. However, the boy's impressed with Sasami's cheerfulness over cooking and is determined to try again, impressing his father.
  • This is one of the few ways Kyoko from Sangatsu No Lion attempts to tarnish Rei's professional shogi career: telling him sob stories of his opponents in order to manipulate him into losing on purpose.
  • This may or may not have been done by Byakuya Kuchiki in Bleach, at the very last moment of his climatic fight with Ichigo. If it's true, then he did so to Take a Third Option. (See the anime section for said trope for details.)
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
    • In episode 165, a sleazy TV producer named Mike tells Manjoume to throw his duel against Judai, as he believes good ratings are more important than an honorable duel. When Judai finds out, he calls Manjoume out on throwing away his pride and Manjoume realizes how low he's sunk.
    • In episode 166, Mike orders Edo Phoenix to throw his duel against Manjoume, threatening to close down an orphanage if he doesn't. Fortunately, Judai exposes Mike's treachery and gets him arrested, allowing the two to finish the duel fairly.

    Comicbooks 
  • This is part of Daredevil's backstory: his father was killed when he refused to take a dive.
    • Marvel villain Boomerang was blacklisted from pro sports for doing this.
  • Two Golden Age Superman stories centered around this trope, though the players weren't the ones cheating. In one, a boxer was drugged by his manager so that he would lose the fight, and in the other, a college football coach was trying to rig the game in favor of the other team.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Daredevil: See comic book entry, above.
  • Eight Men Out: Based on the real life 1919 Black Sox
  • Snake Eyes: Footage shows that one guy faked a knockout
  • On the Waterfront: He coulda been a contender! Instead of a bum! You shoulda been lookin' out for him, Charlie!
  • The Harder They Fall: The whole movie is based around this. Humphrey Bogart is a hype-man for a boxer who can't box, and he convinces people to take the mob money and not fight.
  • Pulp Fiction: Butch (Bruce Willis) is supposed to take a dive. He agrees to go down in the fifth round (as shown in the page quote), but then turns around and bets on himself, and winds up killing the other boxer during the fight. What follows is the weirdest fucking day of his life. It may be even worse for Marcellus.
  • Snatch, Mickey is told to take the dive, but refuses. Everyone thinks this is just him being deliberately contrary, but it turns out to be a thoroughly-planned revenge plot which includes placing a huge bet on himself.
  • The Longest Yard is a good example — the warden says he'll pin Caretaker's murder on Crewe if he doesn't give the game to the guards. Crewe goes along with it at first, but it doesn't take long for him to change his mind.
  • Many of the races are fixed in Speed Racer.
  • An interesting example in Sgt. Bilko, Master Sgt. Bilko in an attempt to fix a boxing match convinces one of the boxers to take a dive. Unfortunately, the errand boy gave the money to the wrong boxer, resulting in this boxer deciding to take a dive as well. Care to guess what happens?
  • In Carman the Champion the champ is supposed to take a dive, but he refuses and just fights Carman straight up.
  • Hulk Hogan's character in Mr. Nanny has been blackballed from Professional Wrestling for refusing to throw a match. Yes, he refused to throw a pro wrestling match. Just roll with it.
    • His refusal makes little sense, but his getting blackballed is perfectly logical: Since pro-wrestling is scripted, taking a dive is actually part of it.
      • Actually, Hogan refusing to take a dive is totally believable; he based his whole wrestling career around it. Even when his bosses wanted him to lose, he had contractual control over his character and could say NO whenever he felt like it.
  • Jamal Wallace in Finding Forrester misses a pair of free-throws at the end of a game on purpose because he's tired of the way he's being treated by the administrators of his school.
  • In City Lights, a gangster makes a deal to throw a boxing match to Charlie Chaplin's character and split the prize money. Unfortunately, he skips town at the last minute, and Chaplin has to fight the replacement for real.
  • In Hot Shots!, a guy at a boxing match comments that both fighters are working for the same manager. One of them goes down after a single punch - which rather obviously didn't connect.
  • The Mr T detective series T And T had an episode with a young boxer accused of throwing a fight. Turned out his teeth protector was laced with drugs.
  • The movie Kickboxer ends with Kurt's brother Eric being kidnapped by Freddy Li's men in order to blackmail Kurt into throwing the fight with Tong Po. To save his brother's life, Kurt is instructed to go the distance with Po before losing the match. Kurt takes a hell of a beating, but when his friends get together and rescue Eric, he gains the second wind necessary to finally take Po down.
  • A plot point in the sequel The Sting II. Hooker, the con man who is not a boxer gets into the ring with a professional, but as he plans to take a dive, it doesn't matter much. Until his partner figures the mark double crossed them, and Hooker has to win the bout! He does, to his own surprise, but learns later that his partner had paid off the professional to take the dive.
  • One or two Three Stooges shorts have run on this idea. The boys would be managing an eager boxer and even have wagered in favour of him ... only for The Mob to 'suggest' that their fighter lose.
  • In The Color of Money, After Eddie beats Vincent in the 9-Ball Classic semifinals, he learns that Vincent threw the match because he had numerous bets riding on him to win.
  • In both versions of The Longest Yard, Paul Crewe's career ended when he was suspected of shaving points. Though it was never proven and he maintains his innocence, everyone takes it as a given that he did it. And yes, he did do it. Later, when he goes to prison and leads a team of inmates in a football game against the guards, the Warden orders him to throw the game, threatening to implicate him in a recent murder if he doesn't comply. Crewe decides he doesn't care and eventually his team wins, but the captain of the guards promises to testify on his behalf if the warden goes ahead with the murder charge.

    Literature 
  • Discussed at length in Freakonomics: A sumo wrestling tournament is 15 bouts, and a wrestler must win 8 of 15 to avoid demotion in the national rankings. Wrestlers fighting in their final match while having 7 wins (thus needing the last win to avoid demotion) win 80% of the time when fighting opponents who have already got 8, suggesting that the latter athlete (who won't gain anything from going from 8 to 9 victories) is simply throwing the fight to allow the other wrestler to avoid demotion.
  • Interestingly the possible Ur Example is an inversion: in Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest the boxer is perfectly willing to take the dive until the Continental Op blackmails him into winning with some unsavory facts from his past.
  • Robert B. Parker's Hush Money revolves around point-shaving in college basketball.
  • OGPU Prison by Sven Hassel. The ex-con soldiers of the 27 Penal Panzer Regiment arrange for a Germany vs. Russia boxing match. The early fights are rigged so Germany will win, while the main event is rigged for the German to lose so they'll make a killing when everyone bets against the Russian in a patriotic fervor. Unfortunately the two boxers start mauling each other so hard they loose their temper and forget the arrangement (fortunately the Russian wins anyway).
  • In the Warrior Cats novel The Last Hope, the invincible warrior Lionblaze tries to Screw Destiny by losing a fight. It doesn't really work out.
  • In the 1632 novel 1636: The Devil's Opera, Hans Metzger is ordered to throw a fight for a $50,000 purse by his employer. He refuses on principle (And the fact that he could really use the money to support his crippled sister). After beating his opponent in a brutal match he nearly lost legitimately, his employer sent thugs after him to reclaim the prize money. They succeed in killing Hans, but not until after he'd killed or maimed all of his attackers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Brady Bunch: In Season 5's "Try, Try Again," done by her siblings when Jan is allowed to win at Tabletop Game/Monopoly, darts, ping pong and basketball — all to boost her confidence after a series of disappointments (e.g., being dismissed from dance class for continued poor performance).
  • Done elegantly in Hogan's Heroes. Kinchloe has to throw the fight against Battlin' Bruno so the Germans can save face against the (true) accusation that a black American prisoner can outperform the Luftwaffe champion boxer. However, he also needs to make the fight last long enough for his comrade to sneak into Klink's office while everyone is watching the match and stay upright when Bruno has metal hidden in his gloves. Kinchloe does eventually throw the fight after knocking Bruno mostly unconscious. It's clear to everyone who the real winner is.
  • In "The Tap Out Job" on Leverage, the team is exposed as conmen and Eliot agrees to take the dive in the upcoming prize fight. (Thanks to some Xanatos Speed Chess, this still works out in the team's favor in the end.)
  • The Due South episode "The Blue Line" revolved around the question of whether one of the protagonist's childhood friends, now a famous hockey player, had taken money to throw a match.
  • The original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has had several of these.
  • In the Quantum Leap episode "The Right Hand of God," Sam leaps into a crooked boxer who is under pressure to throw a match if he loves his kneecaps, but must win instead to earn money for a group of nuns.
    • In "All-Americans," Sam leaps into a high school football player who must stop his best friend from throwing the big game and losing both teens their chances at college scholarships.
  • In one episode of Police Squad!, the crook of the week blackmails a boxer into throwing a title bout. Drebin rescues the hostage before the round in which the boxer is to lose, inspiring him to win the fight.
  • One episode of Touched by an Angel features a star NBA player throwing a game for betting money. Already known as a showboat, he figures he can take a lot of ridiculous shots during the game and it won't seem too out of character - but thanks to the angels, all of his improbable shots go through the hoop anyway and he has one of the best games of all-time.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: In the short film "Cheating", there's a very brief quip where Tom Servo accuses Johnny of shaving points during football games. (This fits with the overall theme of Mike's and the bots' quipping that cheating is Serious Business, and therefore Johnny must be Pure Evil because he cheated.)
  • Subverted in S3E10 of In the Heat of the Night, "King's Ransom". Ex-boxer Conrad "King" Baylor told some friends a story: Mobsters approached him the night of a fight, and gave him $2,000 to throw his match. He took the money, then bet it on himself, intending to go out there and screw over the mobsters. Unfortunately, his opposition was a little better than he thought, and he wound up losing. The mobsters met him post-fight, and gave him another $3,000 "for making the knockout so real".
  • Actually a common strategy in reality game shows. In order to play dumb, they throw challenges so they look like poor competitors so the other players don't target them as a threat.
    • On rare occasions, a team may agree to tank a challenge for some reason - for instance, they may want to eliminate one of their own. For instance, in Survivor: Redemption Island, the Zapetera tribe included known troublemaker Russell Hantz. Knowing he would screw with them For the Evulz, they decided to throw an immunity challenge and eject him before that could happen. Zapetera didn't fare that well afterward - the opposing Ometepe tribe Curb-Stomped them, but it's hard to say whether the potential competition Russell would've given them would be worth the sabotage he'd inflict on his own tribe.
  • Toyed with in Copper. Local rich boy Robert Morehouse sponsors a boxing match between 'Irish' Jake McGinnis and black man Jasper Longfield. If 'Irish' Jake loses, best case scenario only Jasper will be lynched, worst case scenario there will be a massive riot that causes hundreds of deaths. Morehouse was assured that Jasper would follow the trope, but Jasper was in NO mood to take a dive. Lucky for all involved, Morehouse had a plan B. He has the ref lay Jasper out when it looks like 'Irish' Jake may not answer the bell. None of the white people in attendance bat an eye at the extremely obvious cheating: they all had money riding on Jake. The black people watching outside are all pissed, but, Civil War era New York City being Civil War era New York City, no one cares what they think.
  • Subverted in an episode of Magic City. A big boxing match is coming up and the main characters get a tip that a mobster is betting against the current champion. They realize that the fight is fixed and bet big against that boxer. They realize too late that the tip was false and the match is fair. The mobster had his mooks spread the rumor around town so the odds shifted against the champion and the mobster bet his money on the champion. When the champion demolished the challenger the mobster won a fortune and everyone who acted on the tip was cleaned out.
  • On Parks And Recreations Leslie ends up throwing a Disaster Preparedness Drill. Leslie's nemesis has arranged for the drill to occur on the same day as an important fundraiser Leslie is organizing. He then sabotages her efforts so the drill will drag on for the rest of the day. Desperate, Leslie sabotages her own plans and the drill ends early with the majority of the (simulated) population of the town dead from an outbreak of bird flu.
  • The Monk episode "Mr. Monk Takes a Punch" has Monk investigating an attempted assassination on professional boxer Ray Regis. During one questioning with Regis and Regis's trainer Louie Flynn; Monk, Stottlemeyer and Disher learn that Louie's daughter died of surgical complications a few years ago. But at the same time, Monk also discovers that Louie has an unconscious habit of tucking his crucifix in whenever he's lying. Monk eventually figures out that Regis and Louie had bet against themselves to raise money for these experimental surgeries, and believes one possible motive could be that someone figured out that Regis threw the fight and wanted to get pay back.
  • In the Babylon 5 episode "TKO", boxer Walker Smith has a defied version of this in his backstory—he refused to take a dive in his upcoming bout against the champion, so the people in charge tampered with his drug test results, ruining his boxing career.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Will does this against a high school rival in a basketball tournament as he has a son and needs the attention of a NBA scout more then Will does. Said rival calls Will out on it after the game and they decide to settle it for real in a private one on one match. Though the audience doesn't see the outcome.
  • The Mission: Impossible two-part episode "The Contender" had Barney impersonate an up-and-coming pro boxer who had just returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam in order to take down a crooked promoter who routinely had his people throw fights.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Don't tell anyone I told you this, but the finishes to professional wrestling matches (and some high spots) are predetermined. Wrestling to lose in this context is called "jobbing." Most wrestlers are professional enough, the exceptions being things like the Montreal Screwjob and a few matches in the old days that degenerated into full-on "shoots."
  • In the context of Kayfabe and the trope, the most famous example is the "Finger Poke of Doom" match, which aired January 4, 1999, on World Championship Wrestling's Monday Nitro. Long story short, Hulk Hogan poked Kevin Nash in the chest, Nash immediately "collapsed" to the mat and Hogan quickly covered him to win the title, after which Hogan and Nash, along with several other wrestlers, embraced in the ring, mocked the crowd and celebrated the formation of a new faction of supervillains. That match, along with several other tactical decisions during this specific broadcast (e.g., play-by-play announcer Tony Schiavone announcing that Mick Foley had won the WWF World Championship on the rival Monday Night Raw, a poorly conceived "rape" angle involving Goldberg and Miss Elizabeth) would sow WCW's doom.
  • In another infamous WCW example, at Bash at the Beach 2000 Jeff Jarrett laid down for Hulk Hogan to be pinned for the world championship. This was not the planned ending and Hogan was visibly upset & left the building with the championship belt. Meanwhile Vince Russo (who had orchestrated the events) nullified the match, fired Hogan on air, and Jarrett & Booker T had the "real" championship bout.
  • In 1997, then-Commissioner Sgt Slaughter tried to create tension in his arch-nemesis duo D-Generation X, by ordering Shawn Michaels to defend his European title against Triple H. Throughout the night they became more and more antagonistic to each other, only to reveal that they'd been pulling one over on Slaughter the whole time. When the match started Triple H pushed down Shawn and (eventually) gave him a big, clearly non-connecting splash and got the pin. Afterwards Triple H gave a over the top emotional speech and Shawn in turn was inconsolable, for all of a minute or so.

    Radio 
  • Milton Jones is paid to throw a boxing match on the "Jockey" episode of Another Case; unfortunately he has put his lucky anvil in his boxing gloves and wins with one punch.

    Theatre 
  • In the musical Chess, Russian grandmaster Anatoly Sergievsky hurts the USSR in a chess International Showdown By Proxy by defecting, and so spends the second act being pressured to make up for it by throwing the World Chess Championship and returning to Moscow. In the original London version of the plot, he chooses to win anyway in an act of defiance, while in the Broadway rewrite, he chooses the opposite.

    Video Games 
  • In BlazBlue, to get all the different endings for the characters in Story mode, you actually have to purposely throw important fights to trigger the different cutscenes and alternate endings. Winning every fight in a particular story usually only unlocks about 50% of the story possibilities for that character!
    • In its spiritual predecessor, Guilty Gear, a number of characters (Jam most notably) had to throw fights to get different routes in Story mode. This made getting Dizzy's third ending in XX an absolute chore, since she had to defeat Boss I-No on one try (if she lost, she got a different ending).
  • This is pretty much half the point of PSP game The Con. If the odds are heavily stacked that your opponent is going to lose the next round against you, it may actually be more profitable to bet against yourself and let the guy kick your ass. The catch is that you actually have to look like you're trying to fight by doing minimal damage, or they get start to get wise to your... well, con.
  • In Breath of Fire III's Inevitable Tournament, one of your opponents (a magician who's about to face you in an arena where magic is sealed) tries to guilt trip your team into throwing the fight, so he can claim the prize money and get a cure for his deathly sick daughter. Sadly, since one of the player character's allies is being held hostage, your team is unable to oblige. Turns out it's a sham; his daughter wasn't really sick at all, of course.
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, Luis is told to take a dive in an underground fight club in order to pay off a debt his mother owes. If you take this option, your mother berates you for being a loser even though you did it to protect her and the only reason she's in debt is that she borrows from a local thug and won't accept your money.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, Setzer bribes Roxas to throw the 'underdog vs. champion' match in Twilight Town's Struggle competition. Winning caused Setzer to hand over the Champion's Belt effect ; throwing the match (there is no way in hell you can lose unintentionally) earns Roxas a Medal effect  as 'thanks'. The fact that Roxas earns the plot-important Struggle Trophy following either cutscene implies that the match is purely for bragging rights, and Setzer wants to keep the title.
  • Scarface: The World is Yours. Talk to the bouncer at the club. You'll learn he's working off a debt. He didn't refuse to throw a fight, he just forgot which fight he was supposed to throw. Perils of taking blows to the head...
  • In L.A. Noire, one of the cases is a boxer who (like the Pulp Fiction example) bets on himself and refuses to throw a fight.
  • In the Wii version of Punch-Out!!, one of the exhibition challenges requires you to lose a fight to Glass Joe. The catch is that Joe's win has to be by decision, and you have to have knocked him down at least three times during the fight in order to make it look like you are actually trying to beat him for the crowd. This means that Joe has to knock you down at least three times as well, and he has to have slightly more health, if not at least one more KD, than you do by the final bell. (For those who aren't fans of the game, Joe is a complete wimp, making this incredibly hard.)
  • Ridge Racer 4 requires you to finish certain races in second or third to unlock certain cars. This can also make the game easier.

    Web Original 
  • In There Will Be Brawl, mob boss Dedede casually tells Little Mac that he's going down in the third round.
  • Mario Party TV: Sometimes seen when one player is dominating and a co-op minigame comes up: rather than win and strengthen his lead, his partner may choose to deliberately blow the game.
  • In Achievement Hunter's Let's Play Minecraft series, Gavin's shown to be a damn good Minecraft player, but he prefers to screw around from time to time, especially if he's working by his lonesome; he won't go that far when he's working with a team. Geoff frustratingly mentions that if he took things seriously, he'd win many of the episodes easily, to which Gavin sarcastically replied "That'd make an interesting video."note 
    • This has came back to bite him in the ass during an episode of their Let's Play Grand Theft Auto series. During their "Cops 'n Crooks" games in Grand Theft Auto IV, Gavin ends up screwing up many of Team Lads' (comprised of Gavin, Michael and Ray) attempts to stop Team Gents (comprised of Jack, Geoff and Ryan) that, at the beginning of their "Cannonball Run" episode, Michael (temporarily) threw Gavin out of Team Lads.
  • In Pokémon Apokélypse, Ash is threatened into having Pikachu throw a fight.
  • In Turnabout Storm Ace Swift, a star flyer, forced many of his competitors to do this by blackmailing them in some form or another with the help of his assistant Sonata. However when he tried to use it on Rainbow Dash, she just spit in his face and told him where to stick his offer.
  • In Ultra Fast Pony, fixing boxing matches is just another illegal activity that the Apple family has their hooves all over. In "Mob Wars", Big Mac's opponent in the upcoming prize fight is scheduled to get knocked out in the fourth round, and no sooner.

    Western Animation 
  • Green Arrow did this in one episode of Justice League to snap Wildcat to his senses.
  • Satan in South Park in his big fight with Jesus.
    • The boys kept trying to throw Little League baseball games so that they didn't have to play over the summer. Unfortunately, the other teams were better at throwing games.
  • Parodied in the Ren and Stimpy episode "Mad Dog Hoek", in which a wrestling match is indeed fixed, and Ren & Stimpy's opponents do throw the fight... after mercilessly pummeling the duo to jelly.
  • Don King attempts this in Celebrity Deathmatch, having bet against himself. Unfortunately, you can't really throw a deathmatch...
  • In the Wassamatta U arc of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Natasha tries to get Bullwinkle to throw a football game.
  • In one episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Scarecrow was drugging star athletes with fear chemicals so that they'd lose key games, allowing him to make money wagering on their opponents to fund his research.
  • Futurama:
    • In one episode, Bender tried to get Fry to take a dive against Zoidberg in a fight to the death. (Fry declined.)
    • In another episode, Bender enters a robot pro wrestling league. While he's playing the role of a Face, he's happy enough to let his opponents take the dive for him. Then management recasts Bender as a Heel and orders him to starting throwing fights. Bender refuses, until management schedules his next match against a giant kill-bot, programmed to destroy Bender if he goes off-script.
  • Scott's strategy for winning Total Drama Revenge of the Island is to make his team lose every challenge, forcing them into elimination ceremonies. He then manages to persuade his teammates to vote someone else off the island, usually by spreading false rumors or framing his intended victim. He also prioritizes finding the immunity idol so this won't backfire on him. He stops this in All Stars for obvious reasons.
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Spelling Bee", the spelling bee comes down to Arnold and Helga, and Helga's father Bob bribes Arnold to throw the competition so that Helga can win. Arnold refuses, and when Helga finds out about the bribe, she throws the next round instead, letting her sister Olga down as well.

    Real Life 
  • The most famous example is the 1919 Black Sox scandal, where eight members of the Chicago White Sox were paid to lose the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, and were subsequently banned from baseball two years later.
    • So pervasive was sports gambling in the 1910s (a number of players, such as Hal Chase, were suspected of routinely throwing games to supplement their income) that the 1919 World Series nearly became one that players on both sides tried to sabotage. A gambling syndicate offered Cincinnati pitcher Hod Eller $5,000 to take a dive, but instead he threatened to break the legs of the runner making the offer. Years later, Eller's teammate Edd Roush, the Reds' best hitter, claimed that during one World Series game, a teammate ahead of him on the basepaths slowed down suspiciously until Roush yelled "Get running, you crooked son of a bitch!!"
  • A lesser but related scam is point-shaving, which has been caught a few times over the years in college basketball. A player who knows the betting spread deliberately misses shots near the end of a game so that his team will win but not beat the spread.
    • The NBA a few years back had a betting scandal along similar lines instigated by former referee Tim Donaghy, where he would call the games in such a way so that he looks fair with the calls but the scores are higher than they otherwise would be (i.e., 110-100 rather than 96-86). He would bet on the "over" of the over/under (you bet "over" if you think the sum of the two teams' scores will be greater than the given line, say 200.5, and under if you think the sum will be less) for the game prior to tip-off.
  • Similar to match throwing is tanking, where a team may deliberately not win games for some advantage other than direct monetary gain.
    • For bad teams in a given year, there is an existing incentive to tank in North American sports (especially if there is a really good player that will enter the league next season) since teams which perform poorly are generally awarded high draft picks (ask That Other Wiki for why this doesn't come up in European leagues). Accusations in hockey include the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1983-84 (to secure the first pick over the New Jersey Devils and get Mario Lemieux) and the Ottawa Senators in 1992-93 (for Alexandre Daigle).
    • The poor play of the Houston Rockets basketball team in 1982-83, which enabled it to choose Ralph Sampson first in the following year's NBA draft, drew enough suspicion to be parodied in the newspaper comic Tank Mc Namara (one strip showed a fan holding a sign that read "We're No. 26!"). For this reason, the NBA and later the NHL have instituted lotteries whereby teams at the bottom are not guaranteed the first pick in the following year's draft. However, the odds are still heavily weighted towards the worst teams, and in any case teams are still sometimes accused of "playing for ping-pong balls."
      • This doesn't appear to be such a problem in Major League Baseball (possibly because the vast majority of those drafted go through several years in the minors first and many first-rounders don't ever make it to the bigs) or the National Football League (possibly due to their large roster size and subsequent specialization of positions, meaning teams will have specific needs in a given year where a few slots in the draft board isn't something some savvy trades couldn't rectifynote ), neither of which do lotteries.
    • There were also accusations of NFL teams intentionally doing bad in their final weeks of the season in order to gain an easier schedule next year. This was more prominent before 2002, when NFL divisions had five or six teams and more games on a team's schedule were determined by how well they did the previous season; nowadays only two games out of sixteen are determined by how well a team did, not much of an incentive and most likely not worth the rage the team's fans would have for shelling out hundreds or even thousands of dollars to watch crap.
    • With most such strategic use of losing, though, the verdict may depend on whether you believe the ends justify the means. The Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 2000s were in dire financial straits, as their previous years' success had come at a massive financial cost (their filing for bankruptcy and how to handle them was one of the biggest points that led to the 2004-05 Lockout). The Penguins were terrible during this time, but were able to use the high draft picks their poor records year in and year out granted them on star players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. This in turn eventually led to new success (and the income that goes with it), a Stanley Cup victory in 2009, and a brand new arena a couple of years later.
  • Even better teams may sometimes have an incentive to not go all-out to win:
    • The 2006 Los Angeles Clippers allegedly tanked to get the sixth seed (of eight) in the NBA Western Conference in order to both avoid the Dallas Mavericks in the first round (who had the better record that year and thus would have had home-court advantage) and delay facing the powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers until the third round of the playoffs (since the NBA Playoffs is a straight-up bracket). In addition, finishing sixth meant they faced the Denver Nuggets, who were only the third seed by virtue of winning their division: the Clippers actually had a better record, which meant they got home-court advantage. The NBA changed the rules following the season to prevent that occurring again.
      • This isn't even limited to North America: Sweden's ice hockey team allegedly lost on purpose to Slovakia in the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics in order to avoid both the Czech Republic and Canada (both powerhouses) in the opening knockout rounds (there was even a Swedish 5-on-3 power play where five NHL stars were on the ice and none of them took a shot). They faced Switzerland instead, and later went on to win the gold.
      • One of the most overt examples from the Olympics occurred in the women's doubles in badminton at the 2012 London games. Four teams - two from South Korea, one each from China and Indonesia - deliberately lost their final group matches in order to draw weaker opponents in the quarter-finals. Unfortunately, their unnaturally weak performances in the matches drew immediate suspicion from officials and spectators alike, and all four pairs were expelled from the tournament after an official investigation and replaced by four previously eliminated teams from Australia, Canada, Russia, and South Africa.
    • Other times, teams might tank in order to stop someone else from getting into the playoffs: In 1988, the San Francisco 49ers lost their final game of the regular season to the Los Angeles Rams, which prevented the New York Giants (who had beaten them a couple of times in previous years) from getting in the playoffs. Phil Simms was not happy.
    • Sometimes teams play to a specific score which benefits both sides: take the 1982 World Cup match between West Germany and Austria, the last game in Group B. Due to tiebreaker rules at the time, a 1-0 or 2-0 West German win would have seen both teams through to the elimination rounds. Any greater margin and Austria was done, and a tie or Austrian win would have knocked off West Germany; in either case Algeria would have gone through instead. West Germany scored in the first ten minutes of the game, and the remaining eighty was just them kicking the ball around for no reason. Algerians weren't the only ones pissed: a West German fan burned his own flag in protest, and both German and Austrian commentators were disgusted. Since this result happened because Algeria had finished its matches the previous day (and thus everyone had time to figure out what score would lead to what outcome), FIFA has scheduled the final games of each group at the same time so that acting with such foreknowledge couldn't happen again.
      • There was a similar event in the final match of the season-ending play-offs in the English football league in 1898, when Stoke needed a draw or better to remain in the first division the next season, and Burnley needed the same result to be promoted. The match finished 0-0, with neither side even pretending to try to score. The league responded by replacing the "test match" system with automatic promotion and relegation. It also increased the top flight to 18 teams, with the victims of Stoke's and Burnley's alleged manipulation, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United, joining the top flight.
      • And also in the next-to-last round of the 1992–93 Serie A season in Italy, when AC Milan played Brescia. Milan entered the game needing only a draw to win the title ahead of crosstown rival Internazionale, while Brescia believed a draw would be enough to stave off relegation to Serie B. In a 2004 look back at the "dodgiest games" in football history, two British journalists remarked, "For over 80 minutes, the two teams engaged in a shameful game of cat-and-mouse, in which the cat appeared to have fallen asleep and the mouse was on tranquilisers." Milan scored in the 82nd minute... but then took a breather on defense, letting Brescia level the score two minutes later. The game ended 1–1, giving Milan their title, but other results went against Brescia and they were relegated.
    • A strange version of this occurred in the Caribbean Cup in 1994 due to the strange rule that a win in extra time was considered a two-goal win. Barbados had to beat Grenada by two goals in order to progress. At the 83rd minute, Grenada managed to score a goal, making the score 2-1 in favor of Barbados. Figuring that seven minutes was too little time to try to score on Grenada, Barbados instead scored on themselves to tie the game at 2-2 and force extra time, where they would have thirty minutes to try to score on Grenada properly and earn the necessary two-goal win. Grenada realized what they were doing and tried to score an O.G. of their own, resulting in the last few minutes of normal time becoming a spectacle where Grenada tries to score in either goal while Barbados were defending them both! Barbados would eventually win in extra time.
    • Another infamous soccer version can be found in the 1998 Tiger Cup (former name of the soccer competition of Southeast Asia). Thailand and Indonesia were in the same group and came into the final game of the group stage where both nations were guaranteed going into the knockout stage. Whoever topped the group would face Singapore while the runners-up would face the hosts Vietnam. Both teams thought that Vietnam will be the tougher opposition so they played rather half-heartedly, neither wanting to win. Amazingly, both teams managed to score twice and it was 2-2 as the game was beginning to end. At the last minute, Mursyid Effendi, an Indonesian player scored a deliberate own goal. Thus Thailand won 3-2 and went on to top the group. Of course, the whole thing was rendered moot since both teams lost to their respective opponents in the knockout stage. While Singapore, the "cupcake" team, went on to win the whole thing.
    • In the NFL, teams that have already earned playoff spots going into the final week(s) of the regular season often sit their star players - the Indianapolis Colts are known for doing this, among others. In such cases, it's usually because winning another game doesn't earn them anything (i.e., they've already won their division or the top seed and can't finish any better) but actually trying could get their star players injured and totally screw up their playoff run. This can lead to cases where Team A could lose to Team B, who's trying to get in the playoffs...and face Team A, who's now rested and has seen up close how Team B plays - see 2004, Colts versus Broncos. In an effort to prevent meaningless Week 17 games, starting in 2010 the NFL's schedule has all division games in the final week, where teams would presumably be motivated by rivalry to play hard.
      • Of course, such shenanigans don't always work. In 2009, the Cincinnati Bengals faced the New York Jets at home in the final week of the season. Cincinnati had already locked up its best possible playoff seeding, but New York needed to win to get into the playoffs. Since New York would play at Cincinnati the next week if they entered the playoffs (their game was the Sunday night game and the last scheduled game of the regular season), Cincinnati played with minimal effort to avoid risking their players to injury or tipping off any of their plays. New York won, made the playoffs, and then beat the Bengals in the playoffs the next week. The football gods chortled.
    • When it comes to international competition, politics may enter the picture. In the second round of the 1978 FIFA World Cup, Argentina (who was host and had just undergone a coup d'etat two years before that put a military dictatorship that started Argentina's "Dirty War") needed to beat Peru by four goals in order to beat out Brazil by goal differential and make it to the final. The task was already daunting for the top level of play, compounded by the fact that Argentina had only scored a total of six goals in the first five games while Peru allowed a total of six goals in five games. Argentina won their match 6-0, prompting accusations of shenanigans (i.e., that the Peruvian goalie was born in Argentina, that Peru was dependent on grain sales from Argentina, etc.) though nothing was ever proven.
  • Recently, there was a scandal in the Korean StarCraft leagues where a number of players, including the previously dominant Savior, were found to have deliberately lost matches for money.
  • Averted by the Oakland Raiders in the penultimate week of the 1976 season. It starts with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After beating the Raiders in three playoff games in three seasons, in '76 they needed a Miracle Rally in the second half of the season - plus a loss by the division rival Cincinnati Bengals - to even make the postseason. The Bengals were playing the Raiders that night, and it was believed by the media that Oakland would throw the game in order to avoid meeting the Steelers in the playoffs again. Instead, they gave it all their effort and beat the Bengals 35-20. The Raiders capped the awesomeness by finally beating the Steelers in the AFC Championship, and then utterly demolishing the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI to capture the Raiders' first championship.
  • The Fighting Game Community strongly discourages this in tournaments.


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