Follow TV Tropes


Loophole Abuse / Real Life Sports

Go To

The folder for sports-related examples of Loophole Abuse got so big we had to split it onto its own subpage.

Go back to Loophole Abuse, or see the subpage for law-related examples.

    open/close all folders 

    American football 
  • Football loves loophole abuse, and several plays depend on it. Generally, only the most blatant exploits are the ones that get patched; if an exploit is more trouble to patch than it's worth, or doesn't really cause too much harm to the game for whatever reason, it will become part of the game. There's no rule that the quarterback has to be the player to receive the snap, giving rise to "Direct Snap" plays that give the ball from the center to the running back with no hand-off. There are rules that state that only certain positions are eligible receivers, but there's no rule that says they can't then pass the ball to someone behind them (even an ineligible receiver; the rules specifically prevent forward passes and forward handoffs to ineligibles). There's a rule that says that the kickoff must be kicked at least ten yards or touch a member of the receiving team in order for the kicking team to take possession without ending the play, but there's no rule that says you can't kick the ball directly at one of the close members of the receiving team and get the ball when it inevitably bounces off him.
  • At the time of the infamous "Snowplow Game" in 1982 between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots, there really wasn't a rule you couldn't plow a section of the field in football before a field goal. Needless to say, after the game there was one. This game, by the way, is the real reason why Dolphins fans gloat so much over New England's failure to complete a perfect season.
    • It didn't hurt that Don Shula was a member of the NFL's rules committee. This probably produced his familiarity with the rules that allowed him to see that there ain't no rule that says you can't fool the defense into thinking the play's over by pretending to spike the ball to stop the clock, and then pass the ball to an eligible receiver - New York Jets fans remember this as the 1994 Clock Play. And it's still a legal play (as it would be nigh-impossible to patch and does put a high risk in contrast to the high reward).
  • Back when Carlisle Indian Industrial School had a football team in the early 20th century, they were notorious for exploiting the holes in the rulebook. One tactic was to have leather football patches sewn onto every uniform so that every player appeared to be carrying the ball, since there wasn't a rule prohibiting it. They were stopped by Harvard, who when they played Carlisle presented game balls that had been dyed a deep crimson color (since there wasn't a rule against that either) to neutralize the trick. Naturally, both of these cases were inevitably patched.
  • One of the classic examples in football is the infamous "Holy Roller" play run by the Oakland Raiders (who historically don't have the best of relationships with the rules) in a 1978 regular-season game against division rival San Diego. With 10 seconds left in the game, the Raiders had possession of the ball at the Chargers' 14-yard line, trailing 20-14. Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler found himself about to be sacked. Stabler fumbled the ball forward. Raiders running back Pete Banaszak appeared to try to recover the ball on the 12-yard line, but could not keep his footing, and pitched the ball with both hands even closer to the end zone. Raiders tight end Dave Casper was the next player to reach the ball but he also evidently could not get a handle on it. He batted and kicked the ball into the end zone, where he fell on it for the game-tying touchdown as time ran out. During the play, the game officials ruled that Banaszak and Casper's actions were legal because it was impossible to determine if Stabler intentionally fumbled the ball forward (which is—and was—considered a forward pass; the play would be considered dead when the ball hit the ground) or if the players batted the ball forward (which is—and was—illegal in this case; the penalty would have negated the score). This lead to an Obvious Rule Patch dramatically limiting what offensive players can do in terms of recovering fumbles. Stabler, Banaszak and Casper all admitted after the fact that they had indeed deliberately fumbled and deliberately batted the ball forward, respectively. But it's Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught.
    • The NFL closed this loophole the following season. Ever since, any fumble by the offense in the last two minutes of a half, or on fourth down at any time in the game, can only be advanced by the player who fumbled. A recovery by any other offensive player which results in an advance of the ball causes the ball to be returned to the spot of the fumble.
  • Football penalties generally exist to ensure that players follow the rules, but as more than a few players have realized, ain't no rule that says you can't intentionally bait your opponent into a penalty in order to get a first down and/or a free playnote , with the only tradeoff being the possibility that it won't work (which can be detrimental in some situations, like if the offense runs out the play clock trying to force an offsides, or if someone messes up the play and the whole thing is thrown off); specifically, the penalties in question usually relate to a defender being offsides or the defense being out of formation/having too many men on the field. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is particularly known for this.
  • In order to keep kickers from intentionally sending a kickoff out of bounds to prevent a big return, the rules state that if the kick goes out of bounds, the ball is automatically spotted at the 40-yard line, and due to the way NFL rules work, if the first receiver to touch the ball is out of bounds, it's considered an out of bounds kick. This makes sense when the ball is caught out of the air, but a few savvy kick returners have figured out that the way out of bounds determinations work, the rule also applies if a receiver who is standing out of bounds reaches onto the field of play and downs a ball that's already come to rest on the field, making the play an out of bounds kick despite the fact that the ball clearly did not go out of bounds and wasn't on course to. Incredibly, despite being blatantly exploited several times over, the loophole has yet to be patched.
  • Football has several rules to cover "Palpably Unfair Acts", which serves as a Rule Zero when something blatantly unfair happens that isn't covered by the rules (or if applying the rules strictly would still greatly benefit the offending team). It isn't applied often, though. Amusingly, the first time someone ran off the sidelines to tackle a runner, everyone agreed that the referee could award a touchdown even though the rule patch didn't exist yet. Under the current rules, the referee can award anything he deems necessary to negate the advantage a team gained by cheating overt enough to merit a "Palpably Unfair Act" penalty, up to and including declaring the offending team to have forfeited. (The rules are slightly different in the NFL; referees aren't allowed to call a forfeit, but the NFL Commissioner does have the authority to overturn a game, or to scrap it and require a do-over, if a particularly egregious Palpably Unfair Act takes place. Commissioners are understandably hesitant so this clause has never been exercised, but it is on the books in the event that something happens that's so egregious that they have no choice but to correct it in this fashion.)
    • Notably, this only covers acts which violate some rule, but where the standard penalty is woefully inadequate. In the case of a player running onto the field to tackle the ballcarrier, entering the field of play after the snap is considered illegal participation and is punishable by a five yard penalty. Normally, it occurs when the offense snaps the ball while the defense is still making subs (which is only allowed if the offense did not make any subs themselves) but here, a five yard penalty would be woefully inadequate to offset the act, so a touchdown was awarded. All acts which are not explicitly illegal are legal.
  • Bill Belichick, the coach of the New England Patriots since 2000, has a reputation for an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the rules. One famous example was in a 2019 game against the Jets, where the Pats committed a delay of game foul followed by a false start to burn an extra minute off the clock before a 4th-quarter punt. Hilariously, other coaches took note, and the Pats found themselves on the other side of this in the playoffs as the Tennessee Titans used the same tactic to burn an extra couple of minutes off the clock (New England ultimately lost the game and was eliminated, albeit not really on the basis of this play). The loophole was then patched out for the 2020 season.
  • In college football, missed field goals used to be considered touchbacks and the opposing team would start possession on the 20-yard line. By The '70s teams realized that trying a ridiculously long field goal instead of a punt on fourth down could be a nice Xanatos Gambit: you could luck out and make the FG, but if you missed you pinned the other team deep in their own territory and didn't have to worry about punt returns. After a rash of successful 60+ yard field goals in 1976 and 1977 (including the still-standing Division I record of 67 yards and all-divisions record of 69 yards), the rule was changed to award the other team possession at the line of scrimmage of the missed FG.
    • This wasn't an issue in the NFL, which historically awarded possession at the line of scrimmage of the missed FG. However, since 1994, the league has taken this rule even further, awarding possession at the point of the missed field goal. (In both the NFL and college football, if a missed FG would otherwise cause the defense to take possession inside its own 20, the ball is moved forward to the 20.)
  • When the Baltimore Colts moved the team out of the city on March 29, 1984, they did it at two o' clock in the morning by loading everything the team had into fifteen moving vans and bolting for Indianapolis. The reason was that the Maryland Senate had passed an "eminent domain" bill two days prior that would have allowed the city of Baltimore to force the Colts to stay. Indeed, the Maryland House of Delegates also passed the bill that day and Maryland Governor Harry Hughs signed it into law, but since the Colts were already gone by the time the bill was signed Baltimore had no one to enforce it on.
  • In an effort to speed up the games, the NCAA changed the clock rule on kickoffs, causing it to begin running when kicked instead of when it was touched. The University of Wisconsin scored a TD with 23 seconds left in the first half, and deliberately went offsides on the subsequent kickoff. Each time the play was run, they would be penalized and have to do it again, but it would take 5 seconds off the clock that were not replaced.
  • In American High School Football the A-11 offense exploited a loophole in scrimmage kick formations that allowed all players to be numbered as eligible receivers, thus disguising who the actual receivers were and expanding the number of plays the defense had to defend against from 250 to 16,000. Cue Obvious Rule Patch two years later (though Texas and Massachusetts then used NCAA rules, which never allowed the thing in the first place, and Texas still uses NCAA rules).
  • There ain't no rule against some kinds of faking in football.
  • Another example, this time off-field. During the early days of the NFL salary cap, the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys (considered the top two NFL teams for most of the 1990s) perhaps more than any of the others, engaged rapidly in this.
    • In 1994, the 49ers - having been denied trips to the previous two Super Bowls by Dallas, began grabbing defensive players left and right such as Ken Norton Jr. (signed from the Cowboys); Rickey Jackson; Richard Dent and Deion Sanders. Jackson (according to one graphic shown in the NFC Championship game that season — again vs. Dallas) was reportedly paid around $130,000 (league minimum then) but was getting much higher bonuses depending on personal performance and how far the team advanced in the postseason (the NFC Title win would net an additional $850,000). The 49ers won the Super Bowl that year, though some would complain that they "bought" that title.
    • Not to be outdone, Dallas decided to one-up the 49ers; snagging Deion away from that team the next year to a contract where he would be signed to a minimum salary while getting a $13 million signing bonus. The Cowboys won that Super Bowl, but the NFL quickly put a stop to it by enacting what became known as the Deion Sanders rule; outlawing such tactics by correlating a player's signing bonus with the yearly salary on their contract.
    • Both teams (and others) exploited side-contracts with advertising firms. If Player A signs with Team B, Team B will pay Advertiser C a sum of money. Advertiser C then turns around and hires Player A to promote their product, using the money Team B just paid them, circumventing the salary cap.
  • During the late '90s, the University of Miami Hurricanes football team was put on probation by the NCAA and had a limited number of football scholarships they could offer players. To get around this, head coach Butch Davis reached an agreement with the university's track and field coach to offer recruits track scholarships and allow them to play on the football team as walk-ons. This allowed Davis to recruit prospects like Santana Moss and build a powerhouse team. note 
    • The NCAA has since patched this rule. Now, any Division I athlete who plays football and another sport, and receives even a partial athletic scholarship, is counted against the football team's current scholarship limit. The only way around this rule is for the athlete to be a walk-on in all sports in which he competes.
      • This rule has its own patch, or more likely an exception carved out of it. A few athletic programs with football teams in the second-level Division I FCS don't award football scholarships, but award them in other sports—namely Georgetown and the members of the Pioneer Football League.note  For those programs only, an athlete can play football while receiving aid for another sport, while counting against the other sport's scholarship limit.
      • The Pioneer Football League exists because the NCAA closed a similar loophole. They used to allow Division I schools to play football in different divisions. Some schools played in Division III (which forbids athletic scholarships) to help reduce expenses, but full-time Division III schools accused those schools of putting football players on full scholarships in other sports. University of Dayton, who was a dominant Division III football team in The '80s, was the Division I school most-frequently accused of this. When the 1987 Division III championship game featured two slumming Division I schools (Wagner defeated Dayton 19−3), the rest of the division complained loudly. In 1991 the NCAA passed the so-called "Dayton rule", forcing all Division I schools to remain in Division I for football starting in 1993. The schools who were forced to move, but didn't want to start awarding football scholarships, formed their own league.
    • In fact, this rule addresses more multi-sport situations than just football (assuming that the player gets a full or partial athletic scholarship)...
      • Anyone who plays basketball and another sport is counted against the basketball limit, unless they play football.
      • Anyone who plays ice hockey and another sport is counted against the hockey limit, unless they play football or basketball.
      • Anyone who competes in both men's swimming/diving and water polo is counted against the swimming/diving limit, unless he also plays football or basketball.
      • Any woman who competes in (indoor) volleyball is counted in that sport, unless she plays basketball.
  • In Germany there is a limit of two "American" (which includes Japanese, Mexicans and Canadians) players on the field at any given time. However, this rule is silent on Americans who have dual citizenship, e.g. American and German or Canadians that also hold French citizenship. The rule actually cannot be patched as EU regulations explicitly state that EU citizens have to be treated as if they were national of the country in question and dual citizenship is irrelevant in that. However, patches such as "American = played College Football"note  have never even been attempted and may fall flat in an era with more and more German citizens playing College Football or even making it to the NFL. All in all, the top teams of the German Football League are often a quite multicultural affair with quite a bit of College Football experience between them.
  • Starting in 2012, a Memphis, Tennessee school called College of Faith started playing games against lower division NCAA and NAIA football teams, losing by scores like 78-0 and 73-6. Two years later, an affiliate branch in Florida called University of Faith also started playing, with a similar lack of success. Curious as to how these colleges that no one had ever heard of before had suddenly popped up, fans and journalists did some digging and established that they weren't really colleges in the traditional sense. They were founded by a Memphis street preacher and the only "students" were the football players, who he recruited via Facebook. The "campus" was the preacher's house. He had plans to offer online courses, but to start out with he gave them written "assignments" at practices. The idea was to provide a college football experience for people who had financial or academic difficulties that prevented them from being accepted into traditional colleges. Oh, and getting the lucrative cash guarantees that colleges pay opposing teams didn't hurt either. After a couple other similar "fake colleges" began competing on the college circuit, the NCAA and NAIA stepped in and set up rules on which colleges could count as official opponents, based on accreditation and degree-granting. A traditional college can still play a College of Faith-type school, but it's now considered an exhibition game that doesn't count in standings.
  • On Pitt's opening drive in the 2021 ACC Championship Game, quarterback Kenny Pickett broke out of the pocket and ran the ball. About 20 yards downfield, he then dipped his knee, as if signaling his intent to slide to the ground, and the Wake Forest defense relaxed.Background  Pickett never went to the ground, regaining his stride and blowing by the remaining defenders to complete a 58-yard touchdown run. After the game, which Pitt won, Wake's head coach called Pickett's play "brilliant" and acknowledged there was no rule against what he did, but noted that it placed the defense at a huge disadvantage. Less than a week later, the NCAA issued a rule interpretation declaring that any future attempt at a fake slide would cause the play to be called dead at the spot of the fake (though with no other penalty). This interpretation was officially codified in time for the 2022 season.

    Association football 
  • One of the most famous sports examples was the notorious 1994 Barbados vs Grenada soccer game, in the 1994 Caribbean Cup. The tournament rules stated that a draw would go to sudden death extra time, and the winner would be deemed to have won by two goals. Barbados needed to win by 2 clear goals to advance to the next round, and led 2-0 for most of the game, but Grenada scored late; the 2-1 margin, even though it was a loss, would've been enough to send Grenada through instead. Barbados realized they'd be unlikely to score as Grenada would play defensively since they didn't need to win, only to not lose by more than a goal. So Barbados fired the ball into their own net, levelling the score so that the game would go to extra time where one Barbados goal could count as two. Grenada then realized they could advance by scoring into either net, which led to three minutes of Grenada trying to score in any net they could and Barbados furiously defending both goals. Eventually time ran out, and the Barbados plan worked: Barbados scored in extra time, giving them the two-goal win they needed.
  • There's no rule saying a player taking a penalty has to shoot. Most famously, Johan Cruyff took a penalty by unexpectedly passing the ball to teammate Jesper Olsen, who returned the pass for Cruyff to score. Copied later by Robert Pirès and Thierry Henry (badly and unsuccessfully) and Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez (successfully). And of course, two goalkeepers who were the regular penalty kickers in their teams, José Luis Chilavert of Paraguay and Rogério Ceni of Brazil.
  • The rules say a player taking a free kick can touch the ball only once, and then can't touch it again until another player has. However, in 1970 Coventry's Willie Carr and Ernie Hunt noticed there was no specification of exactly what "one touch" meant. So Carr flips the ball upwards between his feet, then Hunt kicks the ball while it's in the air and knocks it in for a goal. The rules were changed by the next season to say that the player who makes the free kick has to actually kick the ball.
  • There is no rule saying you have to score goals in soccer or do anything at all. However, when something like the Disgrace of Gijón happens, FIFA tries to fix it. In this case, West Germany and Austria knew they would both advance if West Germany won by one or two goals because of the result of another match played earlier that same day by Algeria and Chile. So after West Germany scored ten minutes into the match, the players on both teams proceeded to do pretty much nothing for the remainder of the match, which made the fans start openly heckling the players once they realized what was going on. FIFA fixed this with an Obvious Rulepatch which said that both final group matches would now be played at the same time. Similar things have happened since, but they have been less blatant. Keith Olbermann explains here that such constellations are bad for the sport. But then again Olbermann is not popular with soccer fans.
  • A more amusing example: Leeds United defender Gaetano Berardi was told that he couldn't give away his shirt to any fans, as some football/soccer players have been known to do. Berardi got around this by giving away his shorts, since there was no rule on that.
  • Eintracht Braunschweig in 1973 wanted to become the first ever German soccer team to feature advertising on their uniforms. Unfortunately the DFB had a long standing prohibition on that and an earlier attempt by Wormatia Worms had to be abandoned due to the DFB putting its foot down. But then Günter Mast (then CEO of Jägermeister) and the boss of Eintracht Braunschweig had an idea: The logo of Jägermeister is a stag, right? What if Braunschweig just "happens to" change its logo to a stag? There surely cannot be a rule against putting the logo of your team on the jersey, even in a ridiculously large size, right? The DFB eventually relented and the rest - as they say - is history. Mast for his part was elated about the conflict and its unorthodox resolution as it gave his product a lot of media exposure.
    • Kettering Town were the first English team to get a shirt sponsorship, from local firm Kettering Tyres in 1976. The Football Association ordered them to remove the sponsor, so the club reduced it to 'Kettering T', claiming it was a contraction of the club's name.
  • Once again in Germany, one of the Bundesliga's main rulings is the so-called "50+1 rule", which dictates that club members must hold the majority of voting rights to participate in the league. Although exceptions do exist like in the cases of Bayer Leverkusen and VfL Wolfsburg, those are due to a Grandfather Clause as they were formed as factory clubs for company workers, namely Bayer AG and Volkswagen. What does qualify as Loophole Abuse on the other hand is what RB Leipzig did: born in 2009 after Red Bull bought out an amateur side, they circumvented the 50+1 rule by making club membership fees much higher than other German football clubs (to make a comparison: the price for a yearly club membership for Bayern Munich is just 60 euros, but RB Leipzig's membership fee can mount up to 800 euros), and the club's board of directors can reject applications without notice or reason. This, coupled with the relatively unsubtle usage of club imagery for advertisements, made RB Leipzig an extremely controversial club in German football circles, who view their very existence as an affront to its core values.
  • North Korea used the third goalkeeper roster spot in the 2010 FIFA World Cup on an outfield player. However, FIFA caught on and stated that he could only play as a keeper.
  • English Premier League side Chelsea were able to sign Mateo Kovačić despite being under a transfer ban. This was because they already held his registration, as the player was on loan to them the previous season.

  • There is no rule about opponents assisting a runner, which led to college softballer Sara Tucholsky hitting the only home run of her career, but tore her ACL rounding first. Two members of the opposing team carried her around the bases so her home run would count (more complete summary at the Real Life CMOH page).
  • To score a run in baseball, you have to tag home plate. Practically everyone thinks of this as tagging the base with your foot because it's safer and more convenient, and that therefore, if the catcher is already in the way, you can't really tag home. But there ain't no rule that says you have to use your feet. During a college baseball game, Fordham player Brian Kownacki took this to almost gravity defying levels when he jumps over the catcher to get to home plate and makes a flawless flip onto home plate to score a run. (In fact, the "I don't intend to slide" scene in Major League II is based on this.)
    • That same clip also shows another bit of loophole abuse for baseball: if a player/coach is arguing with the home plate umpire, time is not automatically out. In the above clip, a runner on second steals a base by just casually walking to third base when he realizes that the other team is distracted.
      • This has happened more than once in the major leagues, too; one notable example occurred when pitcher David Cone contested a safe call, and two base runners scored while his back was turned.
    • April 25, 2017, Blue Jays vs. Cardinals: Chris Coghlan of the Blue Jays performed a similar flip over Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina to avoid a tag and score a go-ahead run at the top of the seventh inning. The Blue Jays ultimately won the game in extra innings.
    • July 16th, 2019, KC Royals vs. White Sox: An in-the-park home run scored by tagging the base between the catcher's legs. (It was initially called "out", but a review reversed that.) Several other sources also called it the fastest in-park HR (for the Royals, presumably), at just under 28 seconds.
  • The intentional walk started out as loophole abuse: according to the rules if a pitcher throws four pitches outside the strike zone the batter gets to take first base. There was no rule saying a pitcher couldn't intentionally throw four pitches outside the strike zone (if they judge the batter taking first as a better outcome than the likely results of pitching a normal at-bat). In fact such a rule would be hard to enforce, as that would require proving where the pitcher intended to throw the ball. Rule patches just made the loophole smaller by restricting where the pitcher could throw to by restricting where the catcher could stand. Eventually the loophole became de facto permitted, with umpires rarely enforcing the rules about catcher position, and as of 2017 MLB rules make it unnecessary: a team can declare an intentional walk and have the batter take first without the pitcher pitching at all.
  • Ain't no rule that says you can't steal a base when no one's looking. That includes home base.
  • An interesting example from 1963 involved a player named Jimmy Piersall, who was known as something of a Cloudcuckoolander. Piersall celebrated his 100th career home run by running the bases facing backwards. (That is, backpedaling from home plate to first, first to second, etc.) This was done on a bet with one of Piersall's teammates. No rule could be found forbidding this action, so the run was counted. The Jimmy Piersall rule was put into force following this event as an Obvious Rule Patch.
  • The longest game in professional baseball history, a 33-inning marathon between the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings, only occurred because of this. When the game began to run into the early morning, the coaches attempted to invoke the rule that stated an inning could not begin after 12:50 AM. However, the rule had accidentally been omitted from that year's rulebook. The game kept going through the 32nd inning at 4:00 AM, by which point the league president had to step in and stop it.
  • Minor League catcher Dave Bresnahan knew the rules did not permit a second ball to be brought on the field, but didn't say anything about other items. Naturally, he carved a potato into the shape of the ball and hid that in his mitt; with a runner on third, he threw the potato into left field, decoying the runner into running home, where Bresnahan tagged him with the real ball. Averted, however: the umpire nullified the out, declared the run valid, and ejected him from the game. Bresnahan was later released, but he got the last laugh, as the team held a day in his honor and retired his number.
  • St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck pulled off many outlandish stunts:
    • In 1951, the Browns were known as the consistently worst team in the league, and rather than attempt to create a better team (probably impossible) he instead tried to boost attendance with theatrics. The batter's name was Eddie Gaedel, he was 3 feet 7 inches (109 cm) tall, and his one plate appearance (he walked, obviously) was Loophole Abuse combined with Refuge in Audacity. His contract was filed on a Friday because Veeck knew once reviewed the commissions office would reject it right away, but filing on a Friday would delay that until Monday and give Gaedel time to appear in a Saturday game. His name was quietly inserted into the roster with no announcement of any change. (One attentive sports writer did notice the change in roster, but was ignored by management when he questioned it.) His number was listed as "18", but his actual uniform appeared as "1/8". When he was finally inserted as a pinch hitter, the umpire tried to block Gaedel's appearance; however, Veeck had the foresight to prepare for this by having Gaedel's physical contract on-hand, leaving the umpire no choice but to accept him. Gaedel stood at the plate with a toy bat (there are regulations in Major League Baseball about how large the bat can be, but not how small) and took four pitches (Gaedel had strict orders not to dare attempt to actually swing at the ball) and walked to first base to the applause of the crowd. He was then immediately substituted with a pinch runner. The walk did not affect the game's outcome and the Browns still lost to the Detroit Tigers 6-2. The next day, Gaedel's contract was voided "in the interests of baseball", and a new regulation was put in place that new players could not be inserted into a team roster before their contracts were reviewed, effectively keeping anything like Veeck's stunt from happening ever again. Although it was said Gaedel's official statistics would be removed from all baseball records, that promise was not kept. Eddie Gaedel's appearance is still in the books, and he remains the shortest Major League Baseball player on record, with one plate appearance, and a perfect 1.000 on-base percentage.
    • Veeck once held "Grandstand Manager's Night" - ain't no rule saying you can't give fans giant "YES" and "NO" signs and have them make the team's decisions for the day ("New pitcher?" "Pinch hitter?"). The Browns won the game; the actual manager did not participate at all.
  • A common baseball tactic is the double steal; with runners on first and third, the first-base runner will steal second hoping to draw a throw that allows the runner on third to score. Early 20th century ballplayer Germany Schaefer tried this; failing to draw a throw to second, he then stole first base in the opposite direction, then tried again, taking advantage of the rulebook of the time that neglected to prohibit going backwards on the basepaths. The Obvious Rule Patch followed shortly after.

  • The downs system of American football and basketball's shot clock were added when teams took advantage of the lack of such a rule to simply indefinitely keep possession of the ball. Sometimes these "keep away" tactics got really bad; on November 22, 1950, a basketball game between the Fort Wayne Pistons and Minneapolis Lakers ended in a score of 19-18.note  Another 1950 game went for six overtimes, with each team only taking one shot in each extra period.
    • College basketball didn't adopt a shot clock until 1985, after "stall ball" became a semi-common strategy for underdogs trying to even things out against more talented teams. The most notorious example was in 1973 when Tennessee defeated Temple 11–6, in a game where Temple held the ball for over 32 minutes (out of 40). Even now you still see it in high school ball (only a handful of states use a shot clock in high school; Utah adopted it in 2022 after numerous complaints from coaches and fans about teams stalling).
      • This was only the case in men's basketball. Women's college basketball has used its current 30-second shot clock since changing from the archaic six-player halfcourt game to today's five-player full-court game in 1971.
  • Prior to 1979 there was no rule in the NBA against drafting a player before he was ready to sign—thus allowing the Boston Celtics to draft Larry Bird in 1978 even though Bird would play another year for Indiana State. In fact, there was a specific provision allowing it (the "junior conversion rule", intended for players suffering financial hardship) but Bird was able to skirt the financial means requirement because he'd already been out of high school 4 years (he skipped his first year of NCAA eligibility when he dropped out of IU). The NBA named the Bird Conversion Rule, prohibiting the practice, in Bird's honor in 1979.
  • Prior to 1956, there was no rule in the NCAA that you couldn't perform a slam dunk from the free throw line during free throws. So Jim Pollard and Wilt Chamberlainnote  did exactly that. That's why you can no longer take a running start before shooting a free throw.
  • In Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics, the Suns found themselves one point down, 111-110, with one second left in double overtime, no timeouts remaining and possession of the ball under their defensive basket. Faced with the near-impossibility of sinking an 80-foot desperation shotnote , the Suns intentionally called a timeout the team did not have. While this gave the Celtics a Technical Foul free throw, which they made to lead 112-110, it also gave the Suns possession at midcourt, and enabled Garfield Heard to sink an 18-footer as time expired to force a third overtime.note  NBA rules were changed to award both a free throw AND possession the following year to prevent a repeat occurrence.

  • This is an essential part of nine-ball pool. The balls are numbered from 1 to 9, the rules state that you must strike the lowest-numbered ball on the table, and the winner is the player who pots the 9-ball. This implies that the intent is to first pot the 1-ball, then the 2-ball, then the 3-ball, and so on until you pot the 9-ball and win. However, there Ain't No Rule saying the balls must be potted in order, so play often involves striking the lowest-numbered ball into the 9-ball and attempting to pot the 9-ball, or into any other ball to keep shooting. Also, there Ain't No Rule requiring that any shot be "called"–i.e, the shooter does not have to specify which ball is potted or which specific pocket is used.
  • This is also used as a tactical move when you can't easily pot any ball by hitting the lowest first. If you don't hit the lowest ball, the other player can place the cue ball anywhere on the table which usually means a setup for an easy shot. If you do hit the lowest but don't pot anything, the other player will have to shoot from where the cue ball ends up, which ideally is in a position where they will foul and you'll get the cue ball back anywhere on the table. In some games you can get the players making incredibly accurate finesse shots one after the other trying to get the other to foul. You ARE required to either drive a ball to the rail, or pocket a ball, which limits the abuse somewhat, but there's still plenty of leeway to try and perform a safety and force a foul.
  • Some variations even cause a player to lose if they foul three times in a row, leading to even greater abuse.
    • Ten-ball, a game with rules mostly identical to nine-ball that has become popular for professional competitions in the 21st century, largely averts this. While this game originally allowed an instant win if the 10-ball was pocketed on the break, that rule was soon changed. Pocketing the 10-ball on the break causes that ball to be respotted on the table, with that shooter continuing. The most notable difference is that all shots must be called, with the shooter specifying the ball and pocket before shooting.

  • The Underarm bowling incident of 1981 caused a major Cricket scandal when a one day international between Australia and New Zealand came down to the last ball of the New Zealand innings. With New Zealand able to tie the game by scoring a Six, the Australian Captain realized that Underarm Bowling (a completely anachronistic practice of rolling the ball along the ground instead of the usual bounce method) had not been stipulated against in the tournament rules. While a rolled ball is easy to put into play, it is nearly impossible to score a Six, therefore robbing New Zealand of any chance to win the game. While Australia won it was widely viewed in both countries as ungentlemanly cowardice. As a direct result of the incident, underarm bowling was banned in limited overs cricket by the International Cricket Council as "not within the spirit of the game".
  • There was no rule in cricket about bodyline bowling, where the fielding team repeatedly bowls fast short deliveries aimed at the batsman's body, whilst setting a field with a high number of close legside catchers in the hope of catching deflections when the batsman defends himself. The England cricket team used this method to counteract the success of the great Australian batsman Sir Donald Bradman during the 1932-33 Ashes. After the infamous tour bodyline was effectively banned by changing the Laws of Cricket to limit the number of fielders allowed behind square leg, and adding that "The bowling of fast short pitched balls is dangerous and unfair if the umpire at the bowler's end considers that by their repetition and taking into account their length, height and direction they are likely to inflict physical injury on the striker."
  • The ball must be bowled, not merely thrown. Originally, this meant underarm. But there was no specific rule against round-arm bowling (i.e, a sidearm action). The loophole was closed after John Willes (supposedly) tried it. Then re-opened, when the rules were changed to allow it.
    • Eventually, the rules were changed to allow overarm bowlingnote , which quickly became the only method used. Except in 1981, when Australia's Trevor Chappell bowled a technically legal underarm delivery, rolling the ball along the ground to prevent the batting side hitting a six off the last ball and tying the match. Underarm bowling is now prohibited.
    • Roundarm bowling is still legal, but almost no one uses such an action. One of the very few 21st-century examples is Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga.
  • Reader's Digest once printed this apocryphal story about a cricket match somewhere in England:
    The captain of the batting team was facing the first ball of the innings, with the opposing captain as wicketkeeper. The ball was almost a wide down the leg side, but broke back viciously and bowled him out. The astonished batsman exclaimed, "Well, I declare!" The opposing captain overheard and took him at his word, so the innings was closed at one for naught. After the teams changed round, the first bowler began running round and round the boundary with no apparent intention of stopping. When asked what was going on, the captain of the fielding side explained to the umpire, "There is no rule limiting the length of the bowler's run. He's the local marathon champion, and he's running until bad light stops play". The match was drawn with one ball bowled.
  • In Cricket, the rules state that if the ball hits the stumps but does not dislodge the bails, the batsman is not out. During the 80s, the Australian team played a tour match in India on April Fools' Day. in which they superglued the bails on, and then just stood back and let the ball hit the stumps.
  • As mentioned on QI, Thomas White showed up to a cricket match in 1771 with a bat wider than the wicket. At the time, there was no rule on how wide the bat could be; it was added in response to the incident.
  • 19th century star Dr. W.G. Grace was infamous for his loophole abuse, in particular not following the "unwritten rule" that the batsman should walk (off the field) if he knew he was out, regardless of whether the umpire actually gave him out. In one incident, Grace was given not out for an LBW and a caught behind in quick succession, before the bowler finally knocked two of his stumps out of the ground. As Grace trudged off the field, the bowler invoked this by snarking "Surely you're not leaving, Doctor! There's one stump still standing!"
  • In the 1979 Benson & Hedges Cup, then England's leading one-day competition, Worcestershire hosted Somerset in the last group stage match for both teams. Somerset entered the match with three wins from three matches, while Worcestershire and Glamorgan each had two wins from three. The top two teams of each group would advance to the quarterfinals, with the tiebreaker being bowling strike rate (balls bowled per wicket taken). Somerset feared that a large enough loss to Worcestershire, combined with a large enough Glamorgan win over the far weaker (and winless) Minor Counties South, would cause them to miss the playoffs in a three-way tie. They then hatched a plan, which they implemented once they won the toss. Somerset's captain chose to bat first, and took the crease. Then, at the end of the first over, the captain declared their innings closed. Worcestershire would win the shortened match after 10 balls, but Somerset preserved its superior bowling strike rate, clinching a quarterfinal berth... or so they thought. While there was no rule against declaring an innings closed in one-day cricket, the Test and County Cricket Boardnote  considered it such an egregious abuse of the rules that they expelled Somerset from the tournament. The irony was that if Somerset had just played the match normally, they would have advanced anyway—the Glamorgan match was rained out, meaning Glamorgan couldn't make the playoffs. For more details, see The Other Wiki.

  • Golf is a minefield for loophole-lovers. The general rule is, if you try to use the Rules of Golf to your advantage, you better make damn sure you know what they are. Because your opponent will. (And in any important case, one can always drag out the Book and/or the official.) Excellent fictional example: "The Foursome", by "Troon McAllister".
  • George Burns and Harpo Marx were once playing golf on a very hot day, and decided to take their shirts off. A nearby group complained, and the club manager came out to inform them that club rules required them to wear shirts on the course. A little while later, he received another complaint - this time they were playing without pants. When he went out to tell them to put pants on, they asked to see the rulebook on that - and it turned out that there was no rule requiring club members to wear pants on the course, because nobody had ever thought to need it.

  • National Hockey League coach Roger Neilson was infamous for his knowledge of league rules and loopholes, to the point that he became known as "Rule Book Roger". He once put a defenseman in goal for a penalty shot (goalies can't leave the net to bodycheck a shooter off the puck, but defensemen can), forced nearly continuous penalties to relieve pressure on his team (no matter how many penalties a team has, only two players of five can be in the penalty box), and had his goalies leave their sticks in the goalmouth when pulled for an extra attacker, to block attempted empty-net goals. There are rules against all of these now. The current rule is that taking a Too Many Men On The Ice penalty, or other penalties intended to disrupt the flow of play, in the last two minutes of regulation or at any point in overtime while two men down results in a penalty shot instead of a minor penalty.
  • In 2013, the NHL attempted to limit the risk of fighting by adding a rule that players could not remove their own helmets. However, Ain't No Rule that says the players can't gently remove each other's helmets prior to the fight!
  • During the 1977-78 season, the NHL required all teams to put players' names on the back of their jersey. The tradition-minded Toronto Maple Leafs objected, citing a potential decrease in scorecard sales as their excuse, but the league was uninterested in their excuses. So, the Maple Leafs came out in their blue road jerseys, with nameplates on the back - in blue. Not amused, the league threatened a $10,000 fine and the Leafs eventually complied.
  • During the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs, Boston Bruins agitator Brad Marchand repeatedly exploited the fact that the NHL does not have a rule forbidding players to lick their opponents.
  • Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR), designed to give "bonus" salary cap space to NHL teams who have one or more players with long term (but not career ending) injuries, has not one but two major exploits associated with it:
    • The salary cap is not enforced in the playoffs, so it is possible for a cap-strapped team to stash an injured player on LTIR for far longer than necessary, stock up to the salary cap, then activate the "injured" player during the postseason to field a team that is over the salary cap. This famously occurred in the 2020-21 season, where star Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov missed the entire regular season due to the alleged recovery time of his offseason surgery but was conveniently ready for Game 1 of the playoffs; the Lightning would go on to win the Stanley Cup that season, which would only serve to increase the criticism of the rule. That said, an important part of exploiting the loophole (and largely the reason why it has yet to be closed) is that the team actually has to make the playoffs without said player. The Vegas Golden Knights learned this lesson the hard way in 2021-22, as their attempt to weaponize LTIR to fit major acquisition Jack Eichel into their cap structure backfired spectacularly, leading to desperate cap shuffling (and a trade vetoed by the league because Vegas failed to honor a player's No Move Clause) and ending with the team sitting out the playoffs for the first time in their young existence.
    • The other exploit is "LTIRetirement", where a player's injury actually is career-ending but they insist that it isn't to keep from officially retiring. This is largely born to skirt around the "cap recapture penalty", an Obvious Rule Patch designed to retroactively punish teams who signed players to impossibly-long contracts with almost no money made at the end to keep their average cap hit down. Players who don't play out those now-illegal contracts cause their team to be assessed salary cap penalties upon retiring; by pretending that there is a possibility that a player who is obviously done might come back, the team avoids this penalty while the player gets paid for occasionally reporting to doctors. For bonus points, LTIRetired players can then be traded to teams who want to spend the absolutely bare minimum on their roster, as their cap hit far exceeds the amount of actual money the team has to pay and makes it easier to hit the cap minimum.
  • When Coach's Challenge was first introduced to the NHL, the penalty for a failed challenge was losing the team's one and only timeout. It didn't take long for coaches to figure out that the video review process almost always takes longer than the 30 seconds that a timeout grants, leading to challenges that were moreso about slowing the game down than a serious attempt at overturning a goal. Over the next few seasons, the league tinkered with the rule until the penalty for failing a challenge became a power play for the other team, effectively ending this practice.

    Martial arts 
  • Weight cutting is a common tactic in combat sports and all other sports involving weight classes. Competitors typically weigh in on the day before the bout, so fighters severely dehydrate themselves to meet the weight limit during weigh-in and then rehydrate themselves afterwards, allowing them to arrive on fight day 10 to 20 pounds heavier than the weight limit. Because this practice can be dangerous, some organizations attempt to curtail it by conducting an additional weigh-in on fight day and mandate that fighters' weight can't exceed a certain limit above what they weighed in at.
  • In combat sports, a title cannot change hands unless it is contested within its weight class - if either competitor is overweight, even if the challenger wins, the title remains with the champion. Several champions, expecting to lose, have come in overweight, lost, and retained the title. Like Paulo Filho, then of WEC. The UFC, WBO, and IBF have all closed this loophole.
  • Timothy Ferriss, in his book The Four Hour Work Week, tells a story about how he won a kickboxing championship using a method that exploited a rule stating that a fighter who leaves the ring automatically loses. Because he was larger than his opponents, he simply shoved them out of the ring.
  • The Unified Rules of MMA forbid leg strikes to an opponent's head when he is touching the ground with more than just his feet. Initially it aimed to get rid of Kick Them While They're Down situation prevalent in PRIDE FC. Many fighters, however, intentionally drop a knee or a hand to the ground when they're held in a clinch to prevent opponent from kneeing their heads. Specific examples:
    • Fighters will sometimes repeatedly bring their hand down and off the canvas during a clinch so that their opponent has no idea when they're "grounded." This is essentially an attempt to trick their opponent into committing a foul. Some referees will explicitly refuse to reprimand a fighter for getting tricked, sometimes chastising the abusing fighter to either stay grounded or stay upright if they don't want to get fouled.
    • In an episode of The Ultimate Fighter, Rich Franklin suggested that Matt Serra walk on his knees toward an opponent to prevent head kicks, which Serra laughed off.
    • LHW champion Jon Jones developed a habit of crawling toward his opponents after the opening bell in a number of fights, apparently in an attempt to avoid getting kicked in the head. One opponent did kick at his head regardless of the rule. The referee refused to reprimand his opponent.
  • According to Bret Hart, the bizarre 1976 fight between Muhammad Ali and Puroresu wrestler Antonio Inoki, in which Inoki spent the whole fight throwing himself on the mat and kicking Ali's legs while laying on the ground, was the result of a threat from the Nation of Islam to kill Inoki if he laid "a finger" on Ali. The reality is that the organizers had put several conditions on Inoki to the effect that he could not throw, tackle, grapple or kick Ali unless he had a knee on the ground.

    Motor racing 
  • Race car driver Smokey Yunick was so notorious for this that some automotive journalists call this trope in auto racing "Yunicking the Rules". For example, when NASCAR rules tried to force more pit stops by limiting the size of the gas tank, Smokey replaced his fuel lines with exhaust pipe, adding several more gallons that technically were not part of the fuel tank. "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'" is practically the unofficial slogan of NASCAR; Yunick just took that to the natural extreme. Other tricks over the years included finding various places in the cars to hide lead ballast so the vehicle would meet mandated weight minimums, and then jettison it before the race, making the car lighter.
    • This is why NASCAR and all other organized motorsports have blanket "Actions detrimental to racing" rules which they cite with every infraction anyway to keep people from trying to find clever ways to alter their equipment that isn't specifically cited as illegal but is against the spirit of fair play.
    • NASCAR has also had some other notorious examples of this abuse: In the 1997 All-Star race, Hendrick Motorsports built a special car for Jeff Gordon, nicknamed "T-Rex" after lead engineer Rex Stump (coincidentally, it was co-sponsored by Jurassic Park: The Ride in addition to regular sponsor DuPont), which was entirely inside the rulebook at the time, but exploited every gray area that rulebook contained. The car ended up being a full second faster than any other car in existence at the time, including the other cars in Gordon's stablenote , and he ultimately flattened the rest of the field in the race. NASCAR called Rick Hendrick into the office a few days later and told him that T-Rex's setup would be illegal for the Coke 600 and all further races, and shortly after issued a new, far thicker rulebook to prevent further "experimentation".
    • In the 2002 All-Star race, drivers had to make a pit stop during the first segment. Jeff Burton made his on the 40th of 40 laps, which was possible only because he was assigned the pit stall that was before the start/finish line, and so he had to drive a much shorter distance at pit road speed limit. Subsequent versions of this rule included a specific lap for the stop, in order to close this loophole.
    • Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus have been accused of abusing a grey zone in the 2012 rear suspension package, to "yaw" the rear end out to a substantial extent, which has allowed him superior handling and speed in the race. These complaints reached a peak at the Brickyard 400, where Johnson led 99 of 160 laps and won by nearly five seconds. About a month later, NASCAR tightened the rules concerning this grey zone to cut down on such abuse.
      • It's worth noting that Johnson wasn't the only one working in this area - "yawing" or "skewing" the car out was a very common tactic to try to increase side force and get better grip in the turns, with the universal indicator of this being "dog-tracking", where the rear-end of the car would slant to the left, leaving a substantial amount of spoiler directly exposed to the air. It could be seen on practically every car in the field in 2012 - it just so happens that Johnson and Hendrick were ahead of the field on this, as they so often are. NASCAR took further steps to minimize skew in the Gen-6 Car, by removing the components which the teams were experimenting with in the first place - and the penalties given to Penske's drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano at Texas were due to the pre-race inspection failure of parts that would've allowed them to skew the rear ends.
    • NASCAR at one time also had a homologation rule in effect stating that a minimum of 500 cars had to be built to be approved for racing in NASCAR. Naturally; car manufacturers began looking for ways to stay within the "letter of the law" while clearly violating the spirit as while Ford built around 750 of their Torino Talladega models for the 1969 model year along with 503 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II modelsnote , Chrysler Corporation's Dodge division commissioned and built 505 of their winged Charger Daytona models, just five above the 500-unit minimum. NASCAR would try to dodge these antics by raising the minimum from 500 to 1500 for 1970; but Chrysler's Plymouth division would build 1920 of their Road Runner Superbird for the 1970 model year. Ultimately, NASCAR fathers added a new set of rules restricting the "aero warriors" (as those cars were known due to attempts to top each other in terms of aerodynamics) to engines no larger than 305 cubic inches (5000 cc)note ; effectively outlawing those cars for 1971.
    • The increasingly stringent rules regarding testing since the mid-2000s that restricted and later outright banned testing on tracks currently used by the official national series of NASCAR led to a number of teams using tracks that are no longer on the circuit, most prominently Rockingham Speedway in Rockingham, North Carolina (whose last race was the Subway 400 in 2004 before a combination of low attendance and the Ferko lawsuit in which a shareholder of Speedway Motorsports, owner of the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, alleged NASCAR reneged on a promise to hold a second race in Texas; which led to the end of NASCAR's Grand Slam when the traditional fallnote date of the Southern 500 was lost, moving to May in the place of Rockingham's lone remaining racenote ), whose surface is similar to that of the tracks in Darlington, South Carolina (known as "the track too tough to tame") and Atlanta. This led to NASCAR explicitly banning all form of private on-track testing in 2015.
  • Formula One also has many example of creative interpretation of the rules, especially getting around the rules against 'moveable aerodynamic devices'. Over the years teams have tried flexible wings and floors that bend in the wind and reduce drag; in 1978 the Brabham team built the infamous 'Fan Car' where a so-called "cooling fan" created a vacuum under the car.
    • Popular perception thinks that the Brabham 'Fan Car' was banned but in reality it was withdrawn for political reasons. Since team owner Bernie Ecclestone was well on the way to becoming F1's commercial svengali he reasoned it was better to sacrifice the guaranteed wins the car would create than to get on the wrong side of every other team. Designer Gordon Murray has recalled that since the rule said that the fan couldn't be purely for generating downforce the regulators made Brabham demonstrate the cooling function - and they could, the fan did provide both suction and significant cooling, so legally it couldn't have been banned during the season.
    • In 1981 minimum ride height rules were introduced, to be policed by random checks in the pits. Brabham's Gordon Murray (again) designed a hydraulic suspension system that raised the car in the pit lane (when it was being checked) and lowered it down again on the track. Lotus built the Type 88 double-chassis car, where the top chassis would lower down onto the track at speed creating ground effect suction. Ironically it was the more ingenious Lotus that ended up being banned.
    • In 2009, Brawn GP got around the rule specifying a 'single deck' rear aerodynamic diffuser by incorporating the mandatory rear crash structure into the diffuser, thus generating more rear downforce. After initial controversy, the teams agreed to keep the loophole open for 2010 (presumably because they'd all started working it into their own designs) before closing it in 2011.
    • In 2010 McLaren built a duct into their car that the driver could operate with his elbow (!); when used on a straight the duct stalled the rear wing and reduced drag. That trick was banned by FIA in the 2012 rules by an Obvious Rule Patch which forced the drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times. So Mercedes (the successor of Brawn) kept the duct but made it so it could be activated from the wheel, using the same button that already existed for the DRS system.
    • After colliding with Pedro de la Rosa at the 2002 Italian GP, Sauber driver Felipe Massa became the first driver to be given a 10-place grid penalty, to be applied at the next race. Sauber realised that if Massa didn't actually take part in that race, the penalty couldn't be applied, so for one race only, they replaced him with Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Since this essentially amounted to Massa serving a one-race ban, the FIA let it slide, but they did close the loophole so that in future, penalties would apply to the driver's next race, and not a specific event.
    • Before 1976, no rules said that a Formula One car couldn't have six wheels. The rules wouldn't actually be changed to mandate four wheels until 1982, by which time Tyrrell had long since abandoned the experiment.
    • At a Formula One race in Long Beach in 1982, Ferrari used a super-wide rear wing on their cars because the rules explicitly stated that all teams could have rear wings made of two aerodynamic elements, so instead of putting them one atop the other, they put the individual flaps of the wing side-by-side to create a wing twice as wide as regulations allowed. The Ferraris didn't place well and were even disqualified afterwards, but Ferrari didn't introduce that wing to win: all the other teams were cheating the regulations in various creative ways and Ferrari, who have a history for being under fire from rule-makers over the decades, wasn't about to let them get away with it either.
    • Since we're on the topic of Ferrari, during the 2002 Austrian GP, Rubens Barrichello was ordered to let Michael Schumacher pass on the final lap to take the win, despite having led for the entirety of the race. This caused quite the uproar that the FIA outright banned team orders. Fast forward 8 years later, at the 2010 German GP, Felipe Massa was given the coded message below, thus allowing teammate Fernando Alonso to pass him for the win. The FIA penalized Ferrari for this debacle, then was later forced to un-ban team orders the following season by way of stricter regulation of radio messages between the team and their drivers (and also outright banning coded messages like what happened in 2010).
      "Fernando is faster than you, Can you confirm you understood that message?"
    • Played straight, then averted for Tyrrell in 1984. Formula One rules dictate a minimum weight all cars must meet, but at the time it was common to find ways to reduce the weight of the car while on the track (and unable to be weighed) such as water-cooled brakes that were fed by a reservoir, which would gradually empty throughout the race, shedding weight, and be topped up to pass inspection.
      • Tyrrell was the only team with a normally aspirated engine that year, every other team having the dominant turbocharged monsters, and were only earning points due to luck and the skill of their drivers (Martin Brundle and Stefan Bellof). However, this gave them some leverage against the turbo-running teams, as fuel tank sizes were to be cut to 195 liters (from 220L) in 1985 to curtail the power of the turbo cars. Every turbo team would vote against it (as the turbo engines guzzled fuel), but to scrap it, they needed a unanimous decision, leaving Tyrrell (with the vastly more efficient n/a engines) in the way, leverage they were more than willing to use.
      • Tyrrell used a water injection system for their engines, clawing back a little of the power deficit that would be topped up before the race ended with two gallons of water, and 140 lbs of lead shot. The FIA, after inspecting the system, eventually ruled that the water in the tank consisted of 27.5% aromatics, constituted to be an (illegal) additional fuel source, as well as illegally taking on addition fuel during the race, illegal fuel (the water/lead mix), illegal fuel lines (the lines to the engine), and improperly secured ballast (the lead shot). As a result, the FIA excluded Tyrrell from the championship that year, and retroactively disqualified them from all races that year. However, additional testing showed the water carried well below 1% aromatics, and was thus well within the rules. Tyrrell also argued that the rules required that ballast be fixed as to require tools to remove, which they felt was the case for the lead shot trapped in the tank. As such, they went to appeal. In an unbelievably draconian move, the FIA ignored the test results, changed the charges to fuel in the water and illegal ballast, and then added a new charge of illegal vents in the undertray, claiming they violated rules preventing the use of ground effect, but were eventually found to be of no aerodynamic purpose. Oh, and the exclusion was upheld, and a further ban from the final three races was instituted, incurring an additional fine for missing those races. This ended up being a double-whammy for Tyrrell, as the turbo teams were now free to amend the rules as they wished, while Tyrrell scrambled to secure a deal for turbo engines for 1985, and also lost all their points for the championship, losing the subsidized travel costs their points haul would have earned them, an additional cost.
    • A once-common form of loophole abuse unrelated to the technical regulations: in countries where tobacco advertising was banned (of which there were quite a few), teams sponsored by tobacco companies (of which there were also quite a few) would skirt the ban in all sorts of ways, from replacing the company's name with the team or driver name, to replacing it with similar-sounding words (Jordan's "Buzzin' Hornets" being an iconic example), to just strategically blanking out a few letters. When F1 banned tobacco advertising entirely, Ferrari kept their Marlboro sponsorship and just replaced the logo with a giant barcode, but eventually that was banned as well. Ferrari later turned to Phillip Morris' initiative Mission Winnow as well (with McLaren joining in with the British American Tobacco's "A Better Tomorrow" campaign, which also explicitly advertises alternative nicotine products such as vaping products and nicotine pouches in certain races), which also drew the ire of regulators in some countries.
    • For 1994, the use of electronic aids such as traction control were banned. However, after an FIA investigation, a start sequence (launch control) system was discovered in the onboard computer systems of Benetton's B194. In the end, the governing body could not prove the systems had been used so the complaints were dropped. By 2001, the FIA were forced to admit that the ban was unenforceable, and traction control was made legal again until spec ECUs were mandated in 2008.
    • Inverted by several teams following the controversial 2005 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis. Due to a problem with Michelin tires failing at high speed on the Indy track, the 14 cars that used them pulled off the track and refused to race, leaving the six cars that ran Bridgestone tires to run a boring, processional race in which they all won points by default. FIA sought to punish the Michelin teams, but relented when they pointed out not a rule, but a law which worked in their favor: under Indiana state law, the team owners and race organizers could have faced felony charges of reckless endangerment if they had forced the drivers to race — regardless of whether anyone got hurt. Penalties could have been larger had someone been injured or killed.
  • The infamous Andrea Moda F1 team provided a more horrifying example. Two races into the 1992 season, having realised what a shitshow the team was, drivers Alex Caffi and Enrico Bertaggia spoke out against team owner Andrea Sassetti, who promptly fired them and replaced them with Roberto Moreno and Perry McCarthy. A couple of races later, Bertaggia, desperate for another shot at F1, returned and offered Sassetti £1 million in sponsorship moneynote  if he could have his seat back. Sassetti promptly tried to fire McCarthy, only to be told you could only make two unenforced driver changes a season, which he already had. However, he could still make enforced driver changes, if one of his drivers quit or was injured... so Sassetti began sabotaging McCarthy's pre-qualifying sessions (and eventually, his car) in increasingly blatant and dangerous ways, in an attempt to force one of those two things to happen. At the Belgian GP, both things happened at once - McCarthy was given a faulty steering column that failed at the dreaded Raidillon corner, he had to steer so hard to avoid an accident that he dislocated his shoulder, and when he learned what Sassetti had done, he quit in disgust. Before Sassetti could celebrate, however, he was arrested for unrelated matters and Andrea Moda were kicked out of the sport entirely.
  • Another classic rule bend came from F1's near cousin IndyCar (back before the 'Split' and today's spec series, when teams often built their own cars). 1994 Indy 500 rules allowed pushrod engines higher turbo boost levels, ostensibly to encourage engines based on road car engines. Except nothing in the rule book actually specified the need for a stock block, so Penske Racing commissioned a custom Ilmor-Mercedes pushrod engine that pumped out 200hp more than rivals and walked the race.
  • Texas oilman, race car driver and engineer Jim Hall was the creator of Chaparral Cars and created the legendary Can-Am monster, the 2J. At the time there were no rules that prohibited a Can-Am racing car from having more than one engine, so he took a Chevy V8 and powered the boxy 2J's rear wheels with it, and took a snowmobile engine to power a set of rear-mounted fans to suck the car to the ground with. When it wasn't broken down it was an amazing car, and when it wasn't broken down or winning, it was being banned.
  • 24 Hours of Le Mans:
    • The 24 Hours of Le Mans has a rule that tires cannot be heatednote  in the garages. However, they said nothing about heating tires behind the garages.
    • The amount of Ferrari 250 GTOs produced is a result of this. FIA regulations in 1962 required at least one hundred examples of a car to be built in order for it to be homologated for Group 3 Grand Touring Car racing. However, Ferrari only made 39 of them, abusing the loophole by numbering its chassis out of sequence and shuffling the same cars to different locations to give FIA the impression that Ferrari had made 100 of them. By the time Ferrari wanted to homologate the 250 LM in the same class as the 250 GTO in 1964, FIA had closed this loophole, because they realized that Ferrari wouldn't make 100 of them on time.
    • The GT1 class in the 90s required competition cars to be usable by the public, but not necessarily be sold to them. Every manufacturer in GT1 class in the 90s abused loopholes by creating homologation specials. These were all patched by 1999. Notable examples include:
      • Dauer built the 962 Le Mans as a exclusive road-legal supercar based on the original Group C car. Porsche saw an opportunity to enter it as a GT racer after noticing the rules does not specify how many cars need to be built. So both teamed up, and won the 1994 running of 24 Hours of Le Mans. ACO patched the loophole, but it did not stop homologation specials from appearing...
      • Porsche tried to create another homologation special machine two years later, this time at its own. Although regular 911s have been raced in Le Mans (albeit in lower classes) Porsche decided to create a new car, the 911 GT1, using the engine of the now-retired 962 Group C racer (which was the basis of the Dauer 962 above). The new regulations require only 25 road-legal cars to be built, so Porsche built those, albeit with detuned engines for emission-related reasons. One of them now rests in Porsche's museum.
      • The FIA GT1 winning Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR also exploited loopholes. Mercedes built one homologation car in 1997 and kept it, while they created more cars between 1998 and 1999. The latter were sold to the public, however. The luggage space was made available by placing a small cubby hole into an unused area of the car's rear bodywork, although it would mean the luggage would be harder to access.
      • Nissan teamed up with Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) to built the R390 GT1. Only two road cars were built (one for homologation year), one of them (the 1997 road car) being converted to one of 1998-spec race car chassis. The loopholes used are largely similar to the opposition, but Nissan had to increase the luggage space for the 1998 long-tail version to satisfy the ACO as the previous one was deemed too small.
      • When creating the GT-One, in 1998, Toyota designed the car without a luggage space, unlike other homologation specials, so they successfully convinced the ACO, that the fuel tank, when empty, would be able to hold a suitcase, and built just two road-legal cars (one of them now displayed at a museum in Japan and the other in Toyota's motorsport facility in Germany), rather than twenties of them, as Toyota realized that those cars was enough (which Nissan also did). Averted the next year as the GT-One ran as a LMGTP (with the GT1 class cancelled for 1999), without major changes from the 1998 GT model.
      • Although McLaren already won the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans and dominated sports car racing outright with the short-tail F1 GTR, which was a true production vehicle, the increasing competition caused by the rivals above led McLaren to join in the homologation special party with the longtail version of the car, designated as F1 GT for the road-going homologation model. Two models of the car were, however, sold to a pair of interested buyers.
      • Other homologation specials from this period include the SARD MC8-R (effectively a widened Toyota MR2), the Lotus Elise GT1, and the Nismo R33 GT-R LM (although Nissan already had enough R33 GT-Rs produced and sold to the public, Nissan decided to build one homologation special model of the car anyway, likely due to the changes to the car in order to remove the four-wheel drivetrain).
  • Until the mid-1990's, the British Touring Car Championship prohibited aero modifications on its cars, owing to the series' "race on Sunday, sell on Monday" ethos. There was, however, nothing mentioning that cars couldn't already have aero modifications pre-installed. Enter the Alfa Romeo 155 "Silverstone", a limited run car model produced in just high enough quantities to make it eligible for the series under homologation rules, and which just so happened to have factory-installed aero modifications that could actually be adjusted for maximum downforce with no additional parts necessary. The series organisers caught on halfway through the 1994 season, and allowed the cars to compete with the restriction that their aero must always be in their lowered positions. The cars were still series-winners even in this weakened state, and the BTCC permitted aero for everyone from the 1995 season onwards.
  • In MotoGP, when the woefully underpowered Claiming Rule Teamsnote  were restructured into Open class in 2014, in hopes to for them to catch up with the Factory teamsnote ; two loophole abuses happened:
    • One, the rules for Open class simply requires the teams to use the standard ECU and identical software for all Open teams. This originally meant that the Open teams have to built their own bike, use a CRT bike with new ECU, or get a downgraded version of a Factory bike. However, no rule said that the Open teams can use full Factory bike with standard ECUs; in which no Open teams but Forward Racing realized. So, they decided that they would get rid of the CRT bike they have last season and get what is essentially a 2013 spec Yamaha YZR-M1 with standard ECU. This, combined with the riding abilities of their lead rider Aleix Espargaró, allowed Forward to crush the Open class competition; Aleix even got a podium and a pole on that season!
      • To see just how big Forward's advantage over the rest of the Open class in that season, Aleix finished seventh in the final standings with 126 points. The next Open bike is Scott Redding with a downgraded Honda Factory bike, in 12th place with just 81 points. There's a gap of 4 Factory bikes between Aleix and Scott. Aleix alone beat 6 Factory bikes!
    • Two, no rule explicitly said that a Factory team can jump to the Open class. This is what Ducati attempted to earn the benefits of being an Open class teamnote . This caused MotoGP to create another class; the Factory 2, which is a Factory team with Open class benefits, intended only for Factory manufacturers who failed to score a win on dry conditions during the previous season or Factory manufacturers who are new entries. Those benefits are cancelled if they get enough number of podiums or a win on dry condition.
      • In an example of Tropes Are Not Bad, turns out this rule helped to bring parity between manufacturers and closer competitions; so even after another restructuring in 2016 which sees the Open and Factory class being combined into one single class (due to the ECUs used by Open class now being used by everyone), this rule is still applied for all manufacturers.
      • In fact, Ducati's Loophole Abuse actually helped created one of MotoGP's greatest seasons ever. The 2016 season had 9 different race winners, a streak of 8 races with 8 different race winners, all manufacturers (except Aprilia) won at least one race, and all teams (again, except Aprilia) got at least one top 5 finish during that season.note  Most agreed that it was seen as a direct effect of the Factory 2 rules established after Ducati's Loophole Abuse, which was helped by standardized ECUs and the switch to Michelin tires on that season.
  • The Deutsche Tourenwagen-Meisterschaft had to deal with allowing vehicles from as many manufacturers as possible to participate, also because it started with private teams. Now, European automobile makers had rather different model portfolios in those days and therefore different cars that were considered raceworthy. In order to try and make them perform similarly, e.g. a Mustang not outrunning a Volvo 240, a flexible ruleset was needed. But this kept providing loopholes and the need to change the rules from one race to the next. For example, the displacement was used as a base for deciding how heavy a car and how wide the tires had to be.
    • As both naturally-aspirated and turbocharged vehicles ran in the DTM, a "turbo factor" of 1.4 was put upon the displacement of turbo engines. However, this factor was based on data from street vehicles. Turbocharged race engines could produce a lot more than 1.4 times as much horsepower than naturally aspirated race engines of the same size. Especially the legendary Cosworth engine in the Ford Sierra produced way more than what the ONS would have wanted to see. One could say the car either broke down due to teething issues, or if it didn't, it won. Even with limited airflow, there was no stopping the superiority of turbo engines until they were banned altogether in 1991.
    • Another issue was that there was no limit in cylinders or displacement except for gigantic engines requiring ridiculously heavy cars. Early on, it allowed for cars like Rover SD1 Vitesse, Chevrolet Camaro or Ford Mustang to be used as racecars. Around 1990, it was still in place because the audience loved the two teams still running Mustangs for their rumbling, fire-breathing V8 engines inmidst otherwise screaming four- or six-bangers. But after Ford quit in 1990 because they didn't want to race without turbos, Audi took their place and abused this next loophole. Whilst everyone else ran mid-size cars, Audi entered the full-size land yacht that was aptly named V8. Now, whereas the Mustangs were still powered by 16-valve pushrod dinosaurs, the Audi V8 sported a newly-designed, fuel-injected, 32-valve, DOHC power plant. Not only that: Nothing in the DTM rulebook said that four-wheel drive was illegal, another reason for Audi to race this monster because the street version already had 4WD. The ITR tried to convince them to modify the race version to rear-wheel drive, but to no avail because there was no actual rule against it. Audi entered four cars into the competition, and races on high-speed tracks sometimes ended with the four Audis flying by in a formation with the other vehicles eventually following. Their only weakness were tighter courses for which they were too cumbersome. Even then, the 1990 and 1991 championships were won by Audi drivers, although Audi themselves never won as a manufacturer. Again, the rules had to be adapted, this time making the Audi V8 too heavy.
  • The CanAm series was basically one big loophole and built upon the assumption that all engines that'd ever be used in the series would be good ol' American central-camshaft-and-pushrod V8s with no forced aspiration whatsoever. For five years, CanAm was dominated by McLaren cars with Chevy big blocks with similarly-powered Lolas on their heels. Porsche was present, too, but devoid of chances with their comparably puny 4.5-liter flat-12 engines. However, the ruleset said nothing about turbochargers, also because they never came to the rulemakers' minds in a country where more power was achieved through bigger V8 engines and bigger carburetors and in a time when turbocharged gasoline engines were still a fledgling technology. So what Porsche did in 1971 was strap two turbochargers to their flat-12 and power it up from 520bhp to 850bhp. Thus was the Porsche 917/10 TC born which gave the competitors some serious headaches. In 1972, Porsche increased the displacement, raised the power output to 1,000bhp, improved the aerodynamics and ended up winning the championship. As if that hadn't been enough, in 1973, Mark Donohue entered the competition in the 1,100bhp monster that was known as the Porsche 917/30 and the only car in the competition capable of breaking the 250mph mark. Except for the first two races, Donohue completely and utterly curb-stomped the competition and won every single race, usually with one or two 917/10 in tow (where "tow" could mean two and a half minutes behind). The four top vehicles in the 1974 tournaments were all Porsches. The series of victories ended in 1974 when the fuel tank sizes were restricted. This was officially explained with the 1973 Oil Crisis as a justification, but it rendered gas-guzzling turbo engines useless because the cars would have had to refuel too often.

  • John Hopoate, a player in Australia's National Rugby League, became notorious for using a rather unorthodox move to make other players more likely to fumble during tackles. Turns out there wasn't any rule saying you aren't allowed to jam your fingers up another player's bum, and in the end the NRL had to declare him guilty of conduct unbecoming the game before they could get rid of him.note 
    • Unfortunately for Hopoate, however, it turns out that although there wasn't any rule in rugby specifically banning inserting your finger in someone's anus, Australia's criminal law regards it as a form of sexual assault (which, you know, it kind of is). Sure enough, Hopoate was charged with unlawful sexual conduct after the incident.
  • Until 2017, rugby union rules stated that an offside line was formed around a ruck, prohibiting players from the tackling team from going behind the ball. The Italian team realized they could, by not contesting the ball after tackling, not form a ruck, meaning that they could surround the man with the ball and block his passes. They lost anyway, but it was much closer than it would have been (36-15, compared to earlier 63-10 and 33-7 losses against Ireland and Wales respectively). After the match the rules were changed to make any tackle form an offside line.

    Track and field 
  • Nobody thought anyone would jump back-first in the Olympic high jump until 1968, when Dick Fosbury invented the Fosbury Flop. Although initially shunned, there was no rule to forbid it. Today it is the dominant style in high jump.
  • The "Spanish style" or "Erausquin style" in Olympic javelin, i.e. throwing the javelin as if it was a discus. The grip is inverse, and the thrower spins a couple of times like a ballet dancer before ejecting the javelin. Its basis is barra vasca ("Basque stick"), one of several similar Spanish throwing moves used in ancient war javelining. Basque athlete Félix Erausquin invented the style to break the Finnish dominance in javelin in 1956 and was imitated by the other Spanish throwers. The rules didn't specify that the javelin must be thrown overarm, and the "Erausquin style" appeared to be immensely effective: Erausquin, who was 48 at the time, threw the javelin 81.76 m (at a time when the world record was 81.66) and 24-year-old Miguel de la Quadra-Salcedo reached 112 meters. Unfortunately it was also notoriously inaccurate - and dangerous: only three throws in four actually landed on the sector, and one javelin landed on the grandstand. The style was quickly prohibited before the Melbourne Olympics 1956 and the results were never recorded as official.
  • After failing to qualify for the shot put competition in the 2011 World Athletics Championship, American Samoa athlete Sogelau Tuvalu then lined up for the 100 meters heats, taking advantage of the fact that there was no qualification standard for that event (The IAAF had introduced the rule so that smaller nations could send somebody to represent them, and therefore take part in the games). He finished in 15.66 seconds, five seconds behind the heat's winner.

    Winter sports 
  • At one of the Winter Olympics, Canadian Skiers didn't know there was a rule against "tobogganing", or slowing yourself using your bottom. When they did this, other athletes immediately complained to the judges, who opened that year's rulebook to cite against this maneuver — and discovered it had been accidentally omitted...
  • Vancouver 2010 Olympics: Ain't no rule in ice dancing that you can't put belts into your costumes to help with lifts (this is the same Russian pair with the "Aboriginal" costumes). As commentator Scott Hamilton noted, there undoubtedly will be in the future.
  • Likewise, in the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics, ain't no rule you can't prolong your dance by not touching the ice with your skates for the first eighteen seconds. This tactic resulted in the only perfect-scoring ice dance in the history of the Olympics: Torvill and Dean's "Boléro". "Boléro" itself is 17 minutes long. They managed to cut the song down to 4:28, 18 seconds longer than the Olympic rules. Since actual timing starts when the skates touch the ice, the dancers spent the first 18 seconds of the song kneeling, with their skates off the ice. This is now against the rules. Though ice dance in general is prone to teams creating unusual moves, where there ain't no rule, leading to next season there being a rule.
  • Another Olympics one: Canadian Ross Rebagliati was stripped of his gold medal when traces of marijuana were found in his system. However, marijuana wasn't actually on the banned substances list, so they gave it back to him. Then again, marijuana isn't exactly a performance enhancing drug.
    Robin Williams (commenting on the incident years later): "Marijuana enhances many things, colors, flavors, sensations, but you are certainly not fucking empowered. When you're stoned, you're lucky if you can find your own goddamn feet. The only way it's a performance-enhancing drug is if there's a big fucking Hershey bar at the end of the run."
  • Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards utilized a loophole allowing every nation to send a representative for every sport. At the time, nobody else from the UK entered for ski jumping, so Eddie did and was legally allowed to compete. An Obvious Rule Patch followed, requiring all competitors to have won an international competition previously or be in a certain top percentage in their event. This is even portrayed in his biopic Eddie the Eagle.
  • Another ski jumper, similar to the Dick Fosbury example above: In the late 1980s, Jan Boklöv started jumping with his skis in a "V" formation rather than keeping them parallel as was the standard at the time. While this wasn't technically against the rules, style judges consistently gave him the lowest scores they could, but he got so much distance out of the technique that within a few years, everyone was using the same style.
  • Elizabeth Swaney represented Hungary in freestyle skiing at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea despite having little demonstrable talent in the sport. In order to have a better shot at reaching the Olympics, the American-born Swaney claimed Hungarian citizenship through her grandparents so she could try for a less competitive national team and to get around a quota rule. And because athletes needed to score at least 50 points and place in the Top 30 at a recognized championship, she attended championships that attracted fewer than 30 competitors and/or by beating some competitors who were trying to win by using such a safe strategy that she would get more points than those who fell in the competition and got massive deductions. At the Olympics proper, Swaney got dead last, almost 14 points behind the second to last competitor. Like with Eddie the Eagle, the publicity Swaney's Olympic aspirations drew resulted in the Hungarian Olympic Committee reviewing its selection process and consider rewriting the rules.

  • The reason the Olympic Games abolished the requirement that the athletes had to be amateurs in 1986 was because countries such as the Soviet Union frequently skirted around this rule by giving their best athletes token jobs in various government sectors so they could claim "amateur" status even though they were really full-time athletes.
  • The Webley-Fosberry "Automatic Revolver", a vaguely Clock Punk-like pistol that combined the cylinder of a revolver with the recoil-powered repeating action of a semi-automatic pistol, was in high demand as a target weapon because its rate of fire was higher than any conventional revolver... until an Obvious Rule Patch declared that it was a semi-automatic pistol and therefore not tournament-legal in revolver-only events. Since it wasn't actually a very good firearm in most respects, sales pretty much evaporated and not many were actually made. If not for a brief appearance as a plot point in The Maltese Falcon it would be forgotten except by gun collectors.
  • Muggle quidditch, one of the world's youngest team sports, has already gone through seven editions of its "official" rules, owing to the need to patch up innumerable loopholes as they emerge. For example, when coming into physical contact with one's opponent from behind was prohibited, savvy players started to initiate tackles by turning their backs on their targets as they charged them, in an attempt to get the opposing players fouled out.
  • Eight badminton players were disqualified from the 2012 Olympic Games on the grounds of subjectivity, as they were deliberately trying to lose their matches in order to avoid facing tougher opponents in the next round.
  • Before the 2014 WFTDA Championships, there was no rule in Roller Derby forbidding a skater from advancing when she wasn't on her skates, which Suzy Hotrod of Gotham Girls attempted to exploit during the championship bout with the Wheels of Justice (Rose City Rollers' All-Star team). However, she was called on a low block penalty when she touched the legs of her Rose City blocker trying to crawl between them. Ultimately pointless as Gotham Girls won the Hydra anyway.
  • In the 2015 season of the robot combat competition Battlebots, Complete Control easily disabled its opponent Ghost Raptor with a net concealed in a box wrapped like a present. Although entanglement devices like nets had been banned in all Battlebots competitions prior to this point, Complete Control's team asserted that this rule had been mistakenly left out of the 2015 rulebook. The referee stopped the match, disqualifying Complete Control for breaking the apparently non-existent rule, but the judges subsequently allowed the robots to compete in a rematch without the net.
  • The Stefan Raab invented "sport" of "wok-racing" (in essence racing down a bobsled track in a frying pan) has seen its fair share of loophole abuse (and subsequent rule changes) in its history. Mostly concerning whether or not the wok may be heated prior to the race and what weights (if any) may be added to the configuration.
  • Artistic gymnastics has developed a rather persistent one in recent years. Through 2005, routines were scored out of a 10, but a new system was put into play beginning in 2006 that created a second component to the score based on the difficulty of the routine. The intent was to reward gymnasts for attempting harder skills (as the earlier system sometimes seemed to discourage this), and it has succeeded in this respect, but it's also created a situation where some gymnasts will elect to do difficult skills even if they can't do them well rather than do an easier routine, because the difficulty bonus cancels out the execution deductions. (It doesn't help that execution deductions have become increasingly harsh — if a gymnast is unlikely to break a 9 in execution even with a superb routine, it creates a sense that they might as well try to cram in as much difficulty as possible to get the bonuses rather than focusing on execution where they're unlikely to be rewarded for their efforts anyway.)
    • The Produnova vault (forward handspring to double front tuck) is particularly notorious for being used in this manner. Because the vault gets such a high difficulty valuenote , some gymnasts would attempt it and essentially land it in the sitting position, knowing that even with the consequent fall deduction, they could get a high enough combined score to remain competitive note . The governing body finally put a stop to this in the 2017-2020 quad by introducing a new rule: if the gymnast "lands on her feet [and] any other body part simultaneously", the gymnast will not be credited with the double front for the purpose of difficulty; the vault will be considered a much easier single front tuck and difficulty score will be adjusted accordingly.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! originally did not have a rule for how large a deck could be. A player named Maik Schewe took advantage of this and brought a deck consisting of 2,222 cards to a tournament. Though he did not get very far and was disqualified after the second round when his stunt was pointed out to a judge, Konami quickly issued a cap on all decks of 60 cards.
  • The yacht Reliance was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt III specifically to defend the America's Cup, which at the time was raced using the 90 Foot Rule of the Seawanhana Yacht Club, in which a boat's rating was determined by its length at the waterline (LWL) plus the square root of its sail area, divided by two. A maximum waterline length was set, and anything over the limit counted as double (so when the limit was 85 feet, an 86-foot yacht would be counted as 87 feet). By 1903, the limit was set to 90 feet, so the Reliance was built to exactly 90 feet at the waterline and 201 feet overall with the boom and bowsprit (thus making it the largest gaff cutter ever built) with a sail area of 16,160 square feet, giving it a rating of 108.5. Called a "racing freak" and only usable in the right conditions, she only raced once in 1903, defeating challenger Shamrock III in three races, with the final race being decided by such a huge margin Shamrock III was retired from racing. For later races, the America's Cup introduced the Universal Rule rating system that takes displacement into the equation to exclude vessels like the Reliance.