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"Two minutes for... roping? That's a new one on me."
Announcer Bob Miller in D2: The Mighty Ducks, lampshading a penalty that doesn't make sense.note 

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

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

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


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  • A 2014 Mountain Dew commercial has a Dew-drinking show jumper attempting tricks as though the horse were a motorcycle. In the end, the judges give him three zeros. Unfortunately, scoring for stadium show jumping is strictly based on time. There are penalties assessed for hitting obstacles or failing to jump them, but at no point is there any subjective scoring by judges.
  • A 2013 Microsoft commercial has two baseball scouts scouting a pitcher while talking to their team's General Manager, one on an iPhone, the other on Windows. One asks "What's his E.R.A.?" and then adds "How about against lefties?" It's impossible to have an earned run average against lefties, as that particular stat simply cannot be broken down this way. E.R.A. is calculated as a rate of earned runs per 9 innings. Runs allowed have two components: batters getting base and then scoring as runners while another batter is hitting (who may or may not be left-handed) before three outs in an inning are recorded. Proper ways to measure a pitcher's level of success against left-handed hitters would be to calculate either the collective batting average, on-base percentage, or slugging percentage that lefties have against him.
  • A 2013 commercial for McDonald's McRib sandwich had two fans of the McRib compare the awesomeness of it to crazy plays from American football, including "Running the Wishbone out of the I-Formation." The Wishbone isn't a play, it's a formation as well, so you can't run the one out of the other.
  • A 2014 Bud Light radio ad, tailored for NFL radio broadcasts in respective markets, had a named fan spending the '97 season of the local team calculating the perfect temperature at which to serve Bud Light. This created a problem in the Cleveland, Houston, and Nashville markets, as the local teams did not exist at the time.note  As a result, those markets' version of the ad was altered to reference different years.
  • If Segata Sanshiro wants a soccer team to win, it will win. He did get called out for it in the second one where he was sent off.

    Anime & Manga 

Sport anime:

  • Captain Tsubasa has a variation: while most of soccer/association football's rules are respected, the players make impossible moves, and use strategies that are pathetic for anyone that understands the sport, all in name of the plot. The matches depicted on the show also have many more goals than real life's scores, and the football pitches are hilariously huge with characters seemingly running marathons on them.
    • But then it comes an episode (in the Road to 2002 series) where the main focus is a referee that was, apparently, being unfair. The episode then takes a while to talk about referee's methods and other stuff... but then you stop to think about it - this is an anime that never gives a damn thing about referees. Characters are constantly getting severely injured in the middle of matches, sometimes in the most blatant ways, and nobody lifts a finger. All for the sake of awesome, sure, but sends the anime squarely into this trope.
    • There are more egregious examples. Sometimes players violently attack players of the opposite team without receiving any kind of punishment or only receiving a yellow card. Have in mind we are not talking about faking a miscalculation and hitting your opponents on purpose (which happens in real life) but actually kicking them without holding back, sometimes even after being shouted by your coach/team captain/team partners to "break his leg". In real life, that would not only get you a red card, but it'd get you kicked from your soccer league, and probably get your team punished as well.
    • In the filler of the first anime series, during the flashback when the Japanese team played in a European tournament, Japan played against England, whose team used the Union Jack flag, rather than the St George's Cross, the flag used in sporting events, due to the fact all the countries of the United Kingdom normally participate with their own flags, rather than using the Union Jack flag, who is normally used in political events outside sports.
    • The finals of the Junior High Nationals. The match ends in a tie in overtime, so both teams are declared champions. Penalty shootouts, anyone?
  • Even though it's a shonen series and thus we can expect liberties with everything, but the portrayal of American Football in Eyeshield 21 is at times just plain wrong. Even with the Hand Wave of "American football is a violent sport", the referees should be showing up more than twice in the entire series. Still, it gets the basic rules right, especially under Japanese rules, which is more can be said for most examples on this page. It's really not clear what gets player suspended or not, for example, Agon was kicked out of the final for punching his teammate, which is fair, but we saw the Quarterback of the protagonist team do way worse and, even if you call it Amusing Injuries, there is one instance where he planned on getting punched on purpose by his team's kicker with the referee not saying a word. That's without even mentioning the colossal Gaou of Hakushu who routinely maims his opponents in every game without anybody apparently having a problem with it!
  • Even more so with The Prince of Tennis, aside from the gravity- and physics-defying shots the characters use.
    • A fairly blatant example is the match between Ryoma Echizen and Yukimura Seiichi. During the match, Ryoma begins to experience the "yips" because of Yukimura's perfect playstyle which causes a person to lose faith in their play and subseqently robs a person of all 5 senses. Yips is indeed a psychological condition that can cause a person to make mistakes (typically referred to as "choking") but it does not make you go blind. It gets even worse as the match goes on. Ryoma is esentially stumbling around the tennis court blind and deaf and loses control of his racket because he has lost the sense of touch, throwing it around the court. Any referee would have either halted the match to allow Ryoma medical care or would have ended the match outright as a forfeit since it's incredibly obvious that Ryoma can NOT play.
  • The Inazuma Eleven: Ares characters don't play soccer as it's normally played. In their world, soccer is flashy and involves physics-defying moves. The teams are also co-ed.
  • Ice hockey jerseys in PuraOre! ~Pride of Orange~ have each player's given name listed on the back instead of their family name as in real life. The fact that Maya Walker, a Canadian, has her first name on her jersey confirms that it is a deliberate stylistic choice and not just confusion born from the Japanese players listing their family names before their given names.


  • Code Geass and Chess.
    • Most commonly, Lelouch likes to move his king out early, saying that if the king doesn't lead, the troops won't follow. Fine analogy, but such an incredibly bad chess strategy that it doesn't even fall under "difference of opinion" or "debatable." The implication is that Lelouch is so brilliant he can beat his opponents even with such a handicap, but that wouldn't work on anybody but a complete amateur (which none of Lelouch's opponents are suggested to be).
      • There is a slight precedent for this actually, as the first official world champion, Wilhelm Steinitz, experimented with a variation of the Vienna Game opening in which he would allow his king to be chased around the board a bit in exchange for building up a strong central position and gaining a large development advantage. He opined that 'The king can take care of himself' when this strategy was criticized. However, his practical results with this opening were not all that great.
    • The worst example has to be Schneizel putting his own king in check (and blatantly so: he moves it to the square right in front of Lelouch's king). This isn't just bad strategy, it's an illegal move.note  The in-story explanation seems to that it was a Secret Test of Character by Schneizel; Lelouch moves his King out of the way so that one of his other pieces can do the job and Schneizel remarks that he's learned exactly what kind of person Zero is from this action.
  • In FLCL, Naota is shown striking out looking every inning against Haruko's pitching. The problem is that Mabase isn't scoring any runs, and a given player can only bat at most twice every three innings if the team doesn't score, because the maximum number of batters you can send to the plate without scoring is six, while there are nine in a lineup, and everyone (or their substitutes) must bat once before anyone can bat twice.
  • Parodied in Hayate the Combat Butler with beach volleyball. Hayate is worried because he doesn't know how to play, but Nagi tells him it's okay because the author has no idea either. So obviously, it ends with killer robots.
  • The Saki manga had one caused by an artist error: A panel showed Saki with 15 tiles in her hand, which is not legally possible in Mahjong. Strangely enough, the error made its way into the anime adaptation.
    • Crunchyroll's subtitles also demonstrated that the translators apparently didn't know how to play Mahjong, at least not the Riichi variant used in the series. The translation notes in the first episode alone had:
      • An incorrect definition of yaku as "special hands that are worth 1 fan [sic] (point doubling) each". Correct definition: Yaku are hand patterns each worth 1 or more han (fan is the Chinese term used in other variants).
      • "The player sitting east gets double points and pays double points." The East seat player actually gets 1.5x the points if they win the hand, and pays double if and only if someone else wins via tsumo (drawing the final tile themselves, as opposed to taking someone else's discard).
      • For some crazy reason, the subtitles had mixed not only romanized Japanese and English translations for Mahjong terms, but some terms were translated into their Chinese word origins and then romanized. Sometimes all in the same line, for example, "all simples pinfu mixed triple chow."
  • In an episode of the golf anime Dandoh!, the title character faces disqualification from a tournament for putting with his driver (He broke his putter saving his partner's clubs from falling over a cliff), which is explained as "a local rule". Local rules cover the geography of their specific courses, and rules about clubs are covered by the official rules of golf, which permit any club to be used as a replacement putter should the need arise. It turns out that a local official with an agenda is trying to sabotage him, and the players who he beat refuse to accept the trophy before the official gets put in his place.

    Asian Animation 

  • Any chess game played between over-competitive nerds is always done incorrectly.
    • There is never a clock to show players how much time they have left to make their moves, and the players never record their moves. Both of these are required in any competitive match of any kind.
    • The players move their pieces absurdly quickly, especially since they don't use a clock. There are variations of chess which greatly limit the amount of time a player has to make a move (such as blitz chess, where a player is given ten minutes of total time, and most moves are made in less than ten seconds). But in fiction, that's never what's supposed to be happening.
    • They do not shake hands before or after the game. Even if they hated each other, they would still do it in a snarky way.
    • A player wins a decisive advantage by killing their opponent's queen. This only really happens in beginner's games; in a game between talented players, a tiny material advantage or a slightly advantageous position would be enough.
    • The game always ends in checkmate, even though it's standard practice to resign when one's opponent is guaranteed to win. Also, the game is never drawn, even though the players are supposedly both brilliant, and more than half of all top-level games end in a draw.
    • There's also a common bit where one player puts his opponent in check and the opponent checkmates him on the next move. It's technically possible, but there are very few situations where a single move can put one's own king out of danger and completely trap the opposing king. It generally requires the losing player not to pay close attention, and the winning player almost always wins because of sheer luck rather than planning.
    • In fiction, chess players always shout "check" when they deliver it; among professionals, doing this would be considered rather rude.
    • Also the all-too-common cases where a character is shown to be smart in that he can either win most games of chess in less than ____ moves or can think 10/20/you-name-it moves ahead. There are so many combinations of pieces being moved that the human mind couldn't process them all.
    • Any chess game where the winner gets checkmate or otherwise wins in only five or so moves, possibly even fewer (sometimes with one, though impossible and mainly used in comedy), to show how smart they really are. While possible with, say, the Fool's Mate or Scholar's Mate, this mainly exists between amateurs and is unheard of between professionals. (The 2020 Artemis Fowl movie, for example, has the titular character, at the age of seven, defeat the European champion in only five moves. That simply does not happen.)
    • In Sailor Moon episode 71, Ami and Berthier replay the real-life 1972 game between Spassky and Fischer. The match places Berthier in the role of Spassky and Ami in the role of Fischer. The Match portrayed is round 5 of 21, and appears to continue as normal up until the point at which Spassky should have resigned. After which an utterly rookie mistake is made by Berthier which is quickly countered by Ami. After the cutaway for the peanut gallery to cheer, the match has suddenly shifted over a dozen— at the minimum— moves into the future for a rather weak looking checkmate due to the camera angle.
    • Oddly enough, this was Averted in House, hand-shaking and all. Of course, the Patient Of The Week was one of the contestants, and his first showing symptom was that he leaped over the table and beat his opponent to a pulp with the clock, but that's neither here nor there.
    • The newspaper comic Big Nate did an arc about the title character taking part in a middle school chess competition, and wonderfully averted the statement above about players never shaking hands. Each time he shook hands with an opponent, Nate psyched him with a different bit of trash talk, including the simple statement, "Your hands are all sweaty." (The other kid stammered that he had a glandular problem, and Nate thought, "He's mine.")
    • And the board positions (if shown) themselves! God, the positions on the board! Pawns on the first or eighth rank. Bishops on the same colors. Both kings in check simultaneously. Three of the same piece with all 8 pawns still on the board. Quadrupled and quintupled pawns. In general a mishmash of board configurations that are either completely illegal or even if just barely legal, mindblowingly unlikely to ever occur in any real game between actual real players.
    • And a really basic error but shockingly common: having the board set up at 90 degrees to its correct orientation. It's white on the right, people!
    • Briefly parodied in an episode of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! (Series 5, Episode 3: Re-Animated), where the layout of pieces and the 'checkmate' is clearly wrong.
    • The episode of Family Ties where Alex plays chess against a Russian is an interesting case. They actually got many of the details right, including the use of the chess clock. But the presence of live commentary in the same room was more than a little silly, Alex's whole moral dilemma for the episode is created by ignoring the sealed-move rule for adjournments, and of course, for some reason, the Russian who suddenly decides he wants to lose can't simply do so by resigning.
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey: HAL, playing chess with Bowman, gets a few details mixed up, but it's a very subtle error that could only be spotted by a chess wizard. It can also be taken as Foreshadowing that something's very, very, very wrong with HAL.
    • Played for laughs in Futurama where one of two robots playing chess declares "Mate in 137 moves!" from the opening position.
    • The chess scene in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone makes it obvious J. K. Rowling has never touched a chess board in her life. For example, Ron at one point is said to take "one step forward", despite the fact that he is playing a knight (this error and some others were fixed in later reprintings).
      • In the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone movie, Harry starts out as the white-square bishop but clearly delivers checkmate while traveling on a black square diagonal. While his starting square is not directly shown, the king-side white bishop always starts on a white square.
    • An episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh had the characters trying to play chess. Rabbit, the only one who knows anything about the game at all, points out that "some" of the pieces are missing — from the way he describes it, it sounds like he only expects there to be one of each kind, to begin with. And also a magician. This is ultimately all in service of them "playing the missing pieces" — yep, this turns out to be an RPG Episode, complete with Tigger as "the Bish-Hop of Bounce" and rabbit as the Inept Mage.
    • A particular episode of Smart Guy made just about every error you ever see, as well as a few completely new ones. In addition to having the board set up wrong, there was one scene where the black player made the opening move, and the protagonist's solution to defeating an advanced chess computer was to make completely nonsensical moves, which would have never worked in real life. (In fact, the move that was deemed to be "nonsensical" was moving the knight out first, which, according to's database, is actually the third most popular opening move among professional players, out of 20 possible opening moves, making this not even wrong).
    • Star Trek suffers from this whenever chess comes up. While the rules of 3-D chess are more complex than the rules of regular chess, there is no reason that Counselor Troi should be able to win against Data by making irrational moves.
    • There's an absolute clusterfuck of a match between Lena and Lana Luthor in Supergirl. They move illegally and sometimes simultaneously, reintegrate captured pieces and even swap colors.
    • In an episode of Joan of Arcadia, Joan joins the chess club and beats her first opponent in only a few moves in what he thinks is an ingenious display of lateral thinking, but is actually a fluke. Realistically it couldn't be either. There's nothing lateral about noticing you're able to checkmate your opponent; a fluke would be possible against an equally inept opponent, but a competent player would never make a move that would open themselves up to checkmate.
  • In an episode of The Flash (2014), Dr. Wells and Hartley Rathaway (the Pied Piper) are playing chess in a flashback. Hartley puts Wells in Check, and Wells immediately puts Hartley in checkmate. 1) Wells should only be able to do that if securing the checkmate also blocks the piece threatening his king. note  2) We see a close-up of the chess board where Hartley's King is, and it's pretty much physically impossible for him to be in checkmate given the pieces we see.

    Boxing and Martial Arts 
  • While media where boxing is the focal point they at least usually gets most right, anytime the sweet science is more of a side plot you see these:
    • For excitement's sake, most boxing matches in the media are all offensive action, and rarely do they show defensive styles, setting up combos, feeling out processes, etc.
    • In many instances, there doesn't seem to be any weight classes, or everyone is seemingly a heavyweight. Anyone can seemingly fight anyone, you rarely see someone cutting weight.
    • Same applies to championships, as fighters are always going for "the title" with the weight class or organization never defined. In reality, there are multiple world titles in over a dozen weight classes.
    • Decisions in general only seem to be shown when the hero narrowly loses to set up a return. Points are only brought up to show the hero far behind to build for the sudden knockout.
    • The dramatic moment where the hero just gets up as the referee is just hitting 10 on the ten-count, often pulling himself up by the ropes. Fighters actually get a count to eight to get to their feet, with the ref counting off 9 and 10 while they check the fighter over to see if they're cognizant enough to continue. Or showing a mixed martial arts fight where there's a ten-count. There's none in MMA.
    • Along with that, fighters taking unbelievable punishment but somehow they hang in there and make their comeback, as long as they stay on their feet. A referee, while they can be lenient (especially if the fighter in question is known for their toughness), can wave off a fight if the fighter is "out on their feet" or they feel they've just taken too much of a beating.
    • Athletic commissions often seem not to exist, and the boxers only answer to the promoter (and/or their manager). They never have to get physicals, blood tests, drug tests, etc. Doesn't apply if it's specifically stated to be an underground/illegal bout.
    • The bell rings to end the round, and one guy sucker punches the other. Such a punch would constitute at least a deduction of points, if not outright disqualification.
    • Journeymen boxers, or "tomato cans" (the boxing equivalent to pro wrestling jobbers) tend to be misunderstood. In fictional works, they're often depicted as Glass Joe-style cowards or delusional has-beens (or never-weres) with little or no skill who get mauled in their fights. In reality, most "cans" with more than a few fights under their belt are defensive specialists who lose on their feet, and "successful" ones have mastered the art of giving contenders a hard night's work (they aren't out there just to pump up a win record; matchmakers want to see what the contender can do in a tough situation) without damaging him too badly.
  • Depictions of martial arts competitions tend to be all over the map in terms of accuracy, and most of the time they're treated like combination wrestling/boxing matches, except with less protective gear and more types of techniques allowed. Specifically:
    • Matches are typically timed, with the fighters going until one of them is either knocked out, pinned, or tapped out. While some martial arts do compete like this (most notably MMA), few of the traditional do. Instead, the more common style is point sparring, where the referee will stop the match after each successfully landed technique and confirm the point with the judges before continuing.
    • Matches are often full contact, with no protective equipment beyond gloves and (sometimes) a mouth guard. Again, while some arts and organizations do fight this way, it is also quite rare. Most tournaments are either light-to-moderate contact or, in cases where full contact is allowed, competitors usually wear head protectors, chest protectors, and leg pads. Full contact to the head is rarer still, particularly with kicks, due to safety and liability concerns.
    • Matches are often overseen by a single referee, who performs the same functions as a boxing/wrestling ref. In reality, there is usually one head judge (responsible for starting and stopping the match) and a minimum of two other judges, typically positioned in opposite corners. High-level sparring more frequently has a judge in each corner, plus the head judge, for five officials total (plus a timekeeper and secretary).
  • Martial arts training in fiction involves esoteric tasks like meditating under a waterfall or washing the teacher's car. While it's not uncommon for schools to involve the students in helping maintain the dojo (sweeping before/after class, tidying up the entranceway, etc.) and performing chores helps build a good mental mindset, the actual nuts and bolts of physical technique can only be taught in class, through many (many, many) repetitions.
  • Weapons training - typically with wooden weapons like bo staffs or bokken practice swords, although occasionally with the proper bladed weapons (which may or may not be dulled practice copies in-story) - apparently involves live sparring against an opponent, with no protective gear in sight (especially not helmets with face coverings). In reality, this is NEVER done, for what should be obvious reasons - even a wooden weapon is fully capable of killing someone if it lands in the right spot with sufficient power. If live sparring takes place, it is always done with full body armour, including helmets with face screens, and never using actual bladed weapons.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics:
    • An Archie comics story involves a new kid in town coming out of nowhere to become the star player on Riverdale's baseball team, playing shortstop. His leg is then badly injured when a player on a rival team spikes him, but he reinvents himself as an ace pitcher and leads Riverdale to the championship. It would be a great story if it wasn't utter bullcrap. As anyone who's ever pitched at any level could tell you, it is impossible to pitch on an injured leg, at least with any degree of competency. Pitching is not simply about throwing a ball; pitchers generate power from their legs and put a great deal of stress and weight on them when pitching. If you try to pitch on a bad leg, not only will you have difficulty controlling your pitches, it's a good bet you'll injure your arm also.
    • In another issue where Betty becomes a race car driver, the flag bearer at the racetrack waves a checkered flag at the start of her first race. The checkered flag is supposed to signal the end of a race.
  • During the Flashpoint event, the Hall of Doom flying super-prison just misses crashing into Joe Louis Arena during a Red Wings game. An establishing panel shows the ice level, where each team has eight men on the ice, nobody's wearing a helmet, the goaltenders don't look like goaltenders, and there are no officials visible. It can't be justified with an Alternate Universe since the NHL rules were codified decades before the point of divergence.note 
  • Zipi y Zape: In "Olimpiadas escolares", during the Brazil vs San Agapito futsal match, as Zipi & Zape's school team is making the comeback, Sapientín plans a 'perfect shot' by calculating a really complicated ball trajectory on the fly. Sapientín scores with this tactic... and the goal is given as legal even though it involved going far off the pitch and then back in.
  • In Justice League (2018) #47, an establishing montage of The Spectre fostering resentments around the world shows a Bar Brawl in front of a TV showing a soccer match, and the caption "In Liverpool, England, the rivalry between two fan clubs boils over. The Finches haven't forgotten their upset loss to the Hammers in last year's playoffs." The Hammers are West Ham United, the Finches are probably Wingate & Finchley (who haven't used that nickname since Wingate FC and Finchley FC merged in 1991). These are both London clubs that Liverpudlians couldn't care less about. They're also not rivals, not least because they don't even play in the same league; West Ham are in the English Premier League, Wingate & Finchley are in the Isthman League of South-East English semiprofessional clubs. This also means, of course, that they wouldn't play in a play-off, which in English football terms is used to decide the final promotion places in each league division.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes made this into a Running Gag with the two titular characters never understanding even the basic rules to any game they play. They once played a game of baseball with over thirty bases, randomly strewn about through their neighborhood. A game of football had them fighting, scratching and punching each other for the football, dragging themselves towards the end zone after the play was clearly dead. They even once played a game of Monopoly where Calvin tried to rob the bank when he couldn't pay, prompting the usual fight. All of this was their motivation for creating Calvinball, a game whose only permanent rule is "you can't play the same way twice."
  • In Peanuts, Charlie Brown's baseball team often lost games by lopsided margins like 100 to 1. However, American Little League Baseball has the Mercy Rule, which stops the game early to avoid such humiliation. While Charlie Brown is certainly stubborn enough to keep playing, there is no mention of the umpire enforcing, or even bringing up the rule. Also, their games always last nine innings, while Little League games only go six. Often justified, however; while it's varied from year to year, it's usually stated that Charlie Brown's team doesn't play official Little League baseball (at one point he says that they're "about three leagues below that"), as he usually schedules games with managers himself, and plot arcs have had the owner of the sandlot preventing the games for liability issues. Besides, the visiting team can't win via the Mercy Rule until the home team has had a chance to answer. Since a team continues to bat until the defense can make three outs, it's theoretically possible for the visitors to score 90 runs in one inning and only then be retired and proceed to shut out the home team in the bottom of the inning.
  • Any time a sporting event is held in Safe Havens, it's a good bet that the rules of the game will be sacrificed to the Rule of Funny.
    • Examples include the university band playing during game action in a basketball game (which would result in a bench technical — two free throws + possession for the other team — in real life) and Dave being allowed to wear sunglasses with a built-in MP3 player (only protective or prescription eyewear is allowed).
    • And there's also Dave being an apparently successful player in the Italian leagues, despite being a one-trick pony on the court (he's an incredible passer, but he's of high-side-of-average height, slow of foot with no vertical and can't shoot).
  • Jump Start: Marcy's stepbrother, Marcus Glover, is a former Heisman Trophy winner. While defensive players like Marcus routinely rank highly in Heisman votingnote , no defense-only player has won the Heisman, and only three have even been runner upnote . Michigan's Charles Woodson won in 1997 as a defensive back, but he also played major time as a receiver and kick returner.

    Fan Works 
  • The Twilight High School AU fanfic "30 Love" seems to correctly portray women's tennis as if it were using men's rules. Women's tennis is best two-out-of-three sets at all times; men's is best three-out-of-five sets during majors, which is what this fic uses...and is also best two-out-of-three at lesser events.
  • The DCU Alternate Universe Fic Eight Count takes many liberties with boxing, even accounting for the general shadiness of the main league featured in the story. The league has a defined season (unlike actual pro boxing) with story arcs for their various fighters, and is generally conducted more like Professional Wrestling (complete with pre-determined fight outcomes in some cases). Fighters aren't disqualified for blatantly illegal blows, and the super lightweight division, which the deuteragonist Harley Quinn belongs to, is an MMA weight class rather than a boxing one.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: A couple of examples occur in the series, both hand waved via Rule of Cool and Rule of Funny.
    • In “The Ski Trip,” Bolt, Mittens, and Rhino would not be able to ski down a mountainside on a single pair of skis.
    • Usually averted in “The Baseball Game,” but played straight when honorary mascot Bolt enters the game as an active player. No baseball league allows this type of substitution.
  • The Sherlock fanfic "A Hooligans' Game Played By Gentlemen" seems to confuse the two codes (Rugby Union and Rugby League) of rugby. Blackheath Football Club, a union club, is mentioned, but the game he plays with Lestrade and others seems to be a league game, with a turnover resulting after six tackles — a rule which, in any case, was added to the Rugby League rulebook long after Holmes' time. In addition, his position (scrum-half) is treated as a forward, when it actually makes him a back, and he implies being a back is harder on the body — this may or may not be the case, but it's something a forward wouldn't be caught dead admitting.
  • In Chapter 7 of I've Got Your Back, Pearl leads Marina through a make-believe scenario of a motorcycle race, to lift her spirits about a ghastly injury leaving her too infirm to move around on her own, and at one point, Pearl mentions a flag-bearer holding a checkered flag to signal the beginning of the race. In reality, the checkered flag marks the end of a race, while it's the green flag that signals the start.
  • The fight in Well-Matched gets rather bloody, and is not called off or even stopped to check on either boxer, even when taking into account that the US service academies are somewhat more lenient in that regard than other collegiate boxing officials might be. The story Lampshades this by mentioning the ref, who is also the academy's boxing coach, knows the two fighters can take it, as well as ascribing them a little upperclassmen privilege.
  • Khaos Omega usually keeps to the normal rules of whatever sport appears.
    • During the present-day portion of the first leg in Daisy Stanton's Origins Episode "The Sequence" a group of Rainbow Angels, which included Daisy, Octavia Ember, Claire Farron, Shantae, and led by Jet, attend a Mets game. It starts out with back-to-back home runs in the first by David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes (because each different multiverse has different timelines the game is circa. 2016 despite the meta-timeline being several centuries past that); when it goes back to present-day as Wright comes up with the bases loaded with the Mets up 18 to nothing it's now the eighth inning. Shantae's presence (and the sentient ponytail, a 2481 addition to the purple-haired Delta's ability pool) leads to the announcer team quipping that Jet's brother Storm had gone to the Red Sox game at Fenway Park while a friend of Jet's is in Seattle for a Yankees road game. Storm then says after the two East-coast games end and the two groups have returned to their base that he and his wife Rochelle had tickets for seats atop Fenway's famed Green Monster, admitting to catching three home runs before they reached Lansdowne Street.
    • More 2016 baseball, but this time the meta-timeline is around late November 2010. About the only part where artistic license actually kicks in is the fact Anise is participating in high heels (though to be fair to her, Hollie did admit Anise was a particularly fast learner while improving her skills when in heels).
      • Speaking of Anise participating in sports wearing high heels, they're her preferred shoes for pro wrestling activities. Rochelle, Dawn, and Natsume are the only teammates of hers to only wear heels when teaming with her, though Natsume justifies her case is more because of Takara (a Series 500 Rainbow Angel who due to Rainbow Angel magic is permanently in her white Rosa EX thigh-high ballet boots).
      • After her "World of Amethyst" op school-based ops of the student variety only include a physical education (aka 'gym') class if everyone there with her unanimously agrees to have her showcase her far superior physical prowess in heels. The only way for her to even access a school's grounds is to wear heels, as there's now an invisible barrier that won't let her through unless she's wearing heels. The requirement of unanimous agreement to have a physical education class on her schedule is because she actually needs to work to fail a class; she can't simply rely on her new heels-only limiter to fail P.E.
    • More 2016 sports, again with late November 2010 as the meta-timeline's current date, but this time it's Formula 1. The only bit that doesn't match the 2016 Formula 1 season is that Germany's Nico Rosberg (number 6) is absent and phenom rookie Korbyn Narimiya of Jamaica (number 85) is the second driver for Mercedes' works team. Korbyn Narimiya, of Jamaica, with number 85, is Khaos' Career Mode driver in the official F1 2016 video game. Korbyn wins the Belgian Grand Prix, and is even really lucky with his mandatory pit stop for a change of dry-compound tyres (he emerges from the pits behind the safety car, which has been called out for Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo getting crossed up at the Bus Stop chicane because Vettel wanted to pit but was on the outside line for the chicane's right-handed first corner when the pit entry is on the inside for that right-hander).

    Films — Animation 
  • Animal Soccer World:
  • Bullfighting is really toned down in The Book of Life. In real life, the bull is weakened by picadors who jab spears into his neck to weaken him so that the matador can further weaken him with the capote, with the goal of tiring him so much that he's forced to expose his lungs for the killing blow; here, the bull and the matador enter together.
  • The auto racing in Cars is based on NASCAR and, in the foreign-going sequel, assorted other forms of car racing from around the world, and are filled with artistic license. The plot of the first film is kicked off by a three-way tie which results in a tiebreaker race scheduled for a week later, rather than the tiebreaker being determined by number of wins then total number of top-5 and top-10 finishesnote  but most notable is the fact that rather severe wrecks happen and the races just keep going, when a real organization would immediately throw a caution flag. The fact that in this universe the cars are the athletes is a fairly decent Tire Wave for why the rules wouldn't be exactly the same, but whether the rules make more or less sense because of such a setting, is best not thought about too hard. They do get it right by having a safety car appear at several points, of course.
    • The ending, which has Lightning McQueen stop short of the finish line, and driving back to Strip Weathers to push him over the finish line, would break most racing leagues' strict rules against driving in the wrong direction.
    • In the climax of Cars 3, even allowing the Exact Words Rules Lawyering that let Cruz take Lightning's place in an ongoing race, the time they spent in the pits should've left them so far behind no amount of fighting spirit and fancy moves should've brought them back. They may have been trying to invoke Cruz as a substitute driver, something allowed under NASCAR rules, but the substitute driver automatically goes to the back of the pack because they didn't qualify the car.
  • Hoodwinked! sees Granny Puckett participate in a ski race that doesn't seem to conform to the rules of any sanctioned ski race. In the real world, the four members of Boingo's all-human ski team would be disqualified immediately for dirty racing by intentionally wrecking the other members of Granny's team. Not to mention that their methods of taking out Granny's teammates would legally qualify as battery. Also, we're pretty sure most sanctioning bodies have a rule against using dynamite charges to trigger an artificial avalanche on the course. And against the contestants throwing snowballs at each other.
  • In Its Your First Kiss Charlie Brown, the football game has ... issues.
    • First, the referee is the home team kicker's dog. Regardless of how honest he is, or how good he is, it's still a conflict of interest. Imagine how often defensive penalties would be called if the quarterback's spouse was on the field as an official. (Or how few if it were their EX-spouse!)
    • Charlie Brown's team plays in their normal clothes, as opposed to the visitors in their actually uniform uniforms. Very few codes of any kind of football will let some players go in t-shirts and shorts and others go in actual dresses, none of which match each other.
    • Another thing his team is missing? Coaches. At least one. Granted, in the Peanuts world Adults Are Useless, but couldn't their school hire someone to watch kids doing dangerous things? Instead, it's all on Peppermint Patty to draw up plays. (And she only really has one play in mind. Which makes you question what the visiting team's coaching them on.)
    • The infamous Lucy pulling away the ball. On a kickoff, that's an illegal kick, worth a five yard penalty and rekick. Now, on an extra point or field goal, it's entirely legal for her to do that — often a quarterback (or backup) will be the holder for such a play, as seen in Ace Ventura. Faking a field goal or extra point try is fine, although it has risks. Namely, Lucy is now the ball carrier. If you're a defender, what do you normally want to do with a quarterback who has the ball?
      • And when everyone piles on Charlie Brown as he's lying on the ground? Ironically, this would be offsetting personal foul penalties since he's no part of any play at that point.
    • A little something that forced an edit due to fan backlash. The first time they all pile on Charlie Brown, you can see Peppermint Patty complaining, but you can't hear her. She's complaining about Charlie Brown messing up ... but she's a big enough football fan to know better than to blame him! Fans couldn't accept her being that dense about a game she loves, so her complaints on the field in later showings are muted.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Tom & Jerry (2021): While attending a New York Yankees game, Tom sticks his glove over the outfield fence and catches what would have been the final out the Yankees needed to win and instead gives the Kansas City Royals a tying home run. In real life, the umpires would have ruled Tom's actions as fan interference and an automatic out, giving the Yankees the win.
  • The Rocky movie series sticks mostly to the general rules of boxing, but has its moments.
    • The boxing we see features very little defense and focuses on the boxers alternating full-power shots directly to each other's chins. If boxers really fought this way, no fight would last beyond the first round before someone gets knocked out.
    • Rocky takes horrible beatings in most of his fights, which is part of his style. In real life, the referee will step and stop a fight when he feels the fighter is essentially out on his feet or has simply taken too much punishment. Not to mention Rocky and his opponents usually have massively swollen eyes or are badly cut and pouring buckets of blood by the end of a fight, which are past the point of even a lenient ringside doctor's allowance.
    • Rocky is severely undersized for a heavyweight boxer, even with his physical stats getting padded in the tale of the tape.
  • Air Bud: While there is no rule specifically stating that a dog can't play, interscholastic leagues do have stringent eligibility requirements, including being a student of sound academic standing.
  • Horse Feathers has to be deliberate, as there is no way anybody could possibly think that the ref would let somebody ride down the field in a chariot and use every spare football in said chariot as a separate touchdown, no matter how much bribery was involved. Also, Groucho's team (Huxley College) received a kick-off from rival Darwin College after scoring a touchdown, as opposed to kicking off to Darwin. (This is actually a bit of Truth In Television, since some college all-star games used to do this to make the contests more competitive: in the Hawaii Bowl, for example, a team would get the ball back if they trailed by more than two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.)
  • The 1993 movie Rookie of the Year:
    • A 12-year-old boy would not be allowed to play in the Major Leagues because 16 is the minimum age. The only time this was overlooked was due to World War II in the case of Joe Nuxhall. Obviously, this was a liberty that needed to be taken, or it wouldn't be much of a movie.
    • When Henry throws the ball all the way back to home plate after the visitor hits a homer, everyone acts as if it's a live ball (it isn't).
    • Various plays he uses in the ninth are illegal; the pitcher can't be on the pitching rubber during a hidden-ball trick attempt (and play is not resumed from a timeout until the pitcher is on the rubber with the ball), and Henry's Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"! gambit with the runner would not have taken place, as the ump would have called for time as soon as he left the pitching rubber. The way the hidden-ball trick happens in the movie, the umpire would have called a balk on Henry, all the runners would have advanced one base, and the batter would remain at bat.
    • Rather early in the film, Henry is testing his throwing accuracy, and he does the whole fake announcer narration bit, fabricating a scenario for himself. The scenario involves, among other things, a full count. Once he throws the ball and hits his target, he triumphantly shouts, "Strike one!" Even many people who don't watch baseball would know that a full count means "3 balls and two strikes."
    • According to the announcer, the climactic game between the Mets and the Cubs will determine the division championship, with the winner advancing to the World Series. The League Championship Series, which (under 1993 rules) pitted division champions against each other with a World Series berth at stake, is altogether ignored.
    • At the end of the film, Henry is seen playing Little League baseball...which, having played professionally for a year, he would be ineligible to play.
    • The fact that he goes directly to the majors, with no training stints in the minors, would be almost as novel as his age. From the institution of the baseball draft in 1965 to the time of the movie's debut, there were only nineteen such players brought directly to the majors (and the bulk of those were in the early-to-mid 1970s). Possibly justified in that the general manager saw Henry as a drawing card more than anything (which was actually the case for at least one of those aforementioned real-life players - David Clyde with the Texas Rangers in 1973).
  • In the 1994 movie Little Big League, a 12-year-old boy inherits ownership of a major league baseball team, and appoints himself manager. Even if the age issue could be overlooked (the team would probably be held in trust until he comes of age), while it once was common for major league managers like Connie Mack be owners as well, Major League Baseball has forbidden it since Ted Turner tried to appoint himself manager of the Atlanta Braves in 1977. The kid and his assistants are well aware of the rule but they manage to convince the Commissioner of Baseball to allow him to take the manager job anyway (partly because they can't find a grown man who wants to work for a kid).
  • A Shot at Glory:
    • This soccer/footie movie features a fictional Scottish team of whom the owner (Michael Keaton) threatens to move to Dublin. Ireland has their own professional soccer leagues. Even if this fictional team played in the top Scottish league... and it appears they don't... there would be almost no draw for such a lowly Scottish League team playing in Dublin. Not to mention the logistical problems with all the other crappy Scottish teams having to travel. Not a problem for the likes of Rangers and Celtic, but a big problem for others. And taking the team and starting a new Dublin team in the Irish leagues doesn't even remotely make sense. It would be like moving the Broncos to Manitoba and joining the CFL.
    • More broadly, the film features some inaccuracies in how the Scottish Cup tournament works. The semifinals in the film are played at the ground of the "home" team when they should have taken place at neutral venues, and in the final itself the game goes straight to penalty kicks when the game is tied after 90 minutes, ignoring the 30 minutes of extra time that should have taken place.
  • The Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard features a play at the end of the first half where the announcers and players treat it as though a touchdown must be scored before the clock runs out. At any level of football, a play just has to begin before the clock runs out in order to count. Made especially baffling when you know that ESPN's Chris Berman is serving as one of the announcers in the movie, and that another Adam Sandler football movie got this part right.
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League: During a flashback to Victor Stone playing football for Gotham City University, the editing, which keeps cutting to the game clock, implies that Victor must reach the end zone before time runs out, which is not true.
  • Golf movie climaxes almost always involve the "golden rule of golf": play the ball as it lies. This is customarily presented as an immutable law of physics, even when such a play would make a golfer's body contort in ways that would make a member of Cirque du Soleil scream in pain. Apparently, the writers have never heard of the "unplayable-lie" rule which can be taken for any shot, even one safely in the fairway. It does carry a one-stroke penalty, and you can't use it to get yourself closer to the hole, but you can do it.
    • Happy Gilmore:
      • Shooter McGavin has to play the ball off the foot of the title character's former-boss-turned-fan (played by Richard "Jaws" Kiel). In the same film, Happy is offered the unplayable-lie rule, but doesn't use it to avoid the penalty stroke.
      • During the scene with the collapsed TV tower, head of PR for the Tour, Virginia Vennett, is on the putting green to consider the rules in effect, and after it's determined that Happy has to play the ball with the collapsed tower in the way, suggests to Happy that he two-putt around it and go to a sudden-death playoff. Not only would there be very little reason for the head of PR to be involved in such a ruling, but it's explicitly illegal for a player to get "advice" (like, say, how to play a shot) from anyone other than their caddie. Exactly what the punishment would have been is questionable, considering that Happy didn't ask for Virginia's advice in the first place and ignored it anyway. But for the major tournament of the season to be run like that strains credulity.
      • The climax of the movie is also incorrect about the "play the ball as it lies" rule regarding the TV tower. Virginia's initial assessment - that they could have the tower removed and Happy could just take the shot later - would be legal under rules about obstructions on the golf course. Happy could have also have taken a drop without getting closer to the hole without penalty, because he obviously didn't cause the tower to fall. Neither option is taken.
      • A "fan" is paid by Shooter McGavin to rudely yell "jackass!" every time Happy tries to take a shot during a crucial tournament. While this might have been tolerated when Happy was preparing to shoot, especially since Happy had been encouraging people to make noise earlier in the movie, there's no way the officials would've tolerated it during a shot. In reality, not only would the fake fan be ejected the first time he did that, Happy would have been given a free chance to re-hit his ball from the original spot with no penalty. Not to mention, if it ever got traced back to Shooter, there's a good chance that Shooter would have been instantly suspended.
    • In the Swedish classic Den Ofrivillige Golfaren, during the final game, Stig-Helmer's ball lands on a truck that drives away. In order to get it back, they have to bribe the driver into driving to an accessible position so he can take the shot. Never mind that the unplayable-lie rule was practically made for this kind of situation - any serious golf official would have a coronary at the idea of intentionally moving the ball around like that.
  • Days of Thunder: Despite the official cooperation of NASCAR and several race teams (primarily Hendrick Motorsports), the movie still gets a lot wrong about NASCAR. Richard Petty once said there are only two things the movie has in common with real NASCAR: "The cars have numbers on them, and they go fast. That's about it."
    • A NASCAR team needs more than one car. This is not just a question of repairing damage and having a backup car ready, but of suitability because different cars are designed for different tracks (you have your superspeedway cars, short track cars, road course cars, etc.). Basically, there is no way that a NASCAR team could get away with using only one car on every track.
    • Cole Trickle couldn't pass everybody else in the race in the last three laps at Daytona. Unless he's an AI driver using Rubber-Band A.I. with superhuman abilities, such a thing simply couldn't be done in the last three laps of a NASCAR race unless everybody else just decided to stop moving. During the Darlington race earlier in the movie, the driver would have lost a lot more than just two positions with the extra time he spent on pit road. Due to the short length and egg-shaped configuration, he'd have lost one or two laps, which would have put him in dead last.
    • A driver would face fines, probation, and a suspension if he rammed the winner's car while the winner was doing the victory lap. For a real-life example of a situation like this, Matt Kenseth got a two-race suspension for intentionally wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville in fall 2015 (albeit this happened while Logano was leading the race, not during his victory lap), in what was perceived as payback for earlier incidents at Kansas and Talladega. So the fact that a driver not only did this but got away with it in this movie is a big question mark.
    • After the caution in the final race when Cole beats the pace car out of pit road, the race restarts with Wheeler, the leader, starting on the inside line. Wheeler's car should have been on the outside line, since, prior to June 2009, double-file restarts in NASCAR only happened in the non-point events and on the initial start in points races. Prior to June 2009, lead-lap cars restarted on the outside line and lap down cars restarted on the inside line.
  • Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby has a few of note for NASCAR:
    • The Texas Motor Speedway race is signed as the Dickie's 500 (now the AAA Texas 500), but there are a few glaring inaccuracies to any NASCAR fan: one, the race ends in the day time, when both Texas races (spring and fall) end under the lights (the spring one is a Saturday night race; the fall race starts in the late afternoon and ends just past sunset). Also, the NASCAR on FOX crew is shown commentating for the race, when at the time of filming, and in the present day, it would have been the NASCAR on NBC team (or, from 2007 to 2014, the NASCAR on ESPN/ABC team) who would be covering the race. FOX covers the spring Texas race.
    • In the race where Ricky tries to win while driving in reverse, he spins backwards but his roof flaps don't deploy. Every NASCAR car has flaps that open up on the roof to prevent them from flying into the air when in a crash. They open when the car is moving in reverse with sufficient wind speed.
    • Ricky Bobby's career starts when, while just a member of the pit crew, he relieves the driver of the #26. While NASCAR does allow relief drivers to get in a car after the race is already started (which often happens with a driver who's recovering from a serious injury who needs to start for points but can't expect to complete the whole racenote ), the relief driver must have a NASCAR license and preferably have practiced in a Cup car during that weekend at that track of the event. Since Ricky Bobby is on the pit crew, he would not have practiced a car and therefore would not be allowed to get in the car for his first race.
    • When Reese goes to pick up the two Talladega tickets for Ricky's comeback event, the sign at the vendor window says "Saturday Tickets." Thing is, Ricky's racing in the Cup Series, and both of Talladega's Cup races are Sunday afternoon races. The Saturday race would be the Xfinity Series race for the spring weekend, and the Truck Series race on the fall weekend. The only Cup races held on Saturdays are night races, of which none happen at Talladega because it does not have lights.
    • Ricky Bobby and Jean Girard line up side-by-side for the final restart. While this has been NASCAR procedure in point races since June 2009, at the time of filming, double-file restarts were only used in non-point events (including the All-Star Race and the Clash at Daytona). In points races, the lead lap cars lined up single file.
    • When Ricky and Cal execute "The Slingshot", they downshift, then pull out of line. A few times this occurs, they're racing at Talladega. Talladega is a restrictor plate track, meaning that with the exception of restarts, and entering and exiting pit road (which they did at full speed), the drivers don't shift at all under green. Also, Ricky was single-handedly passing multiple cars at Talladega. With today's air packages and restrictor plates, passing one car alone without drafting help is very rare.
    • In the climactic race, team owner Larry Dennitt gives Cal team orders, through Cal's crew chief, to take out Ricky so as to keep Ricky from getting past Jean Girard. When Cal refuses to comply, Dennitt orders his third car, Ricky's old #26 ride, to wreck Cal so that Cal can't give Ricky a push. That would be really stupid to pull off in real life since NASCAR monitors radio communications, and the officials would see this as an attempt to manipulate the finish of the race, especially since the #26 shoving Cal into the wall took out most of the field. This would end with all of Dennitt's teams (minus Cal) receiving huge fines, point penalties, as well as the suspensions of several personnel, as evidenced by what happened in real life to Michael Waltrip Racing when they were caught attempting to manipulate the finish of the 2013 Federated Auto Parts 400 to get Martin Truex, Jr. into the Chasenote .
    • Girard and Ricky are disqualified for getting out of their cars after they wrecked. Their mangled, obliterated, more-metal-and-fiberglass-shavings-than-cars cars. This happened on the final lap. In real life, the NASCAR rule is that once the white flag waves, the next flag will end the race, whether it's the checkered or yellow flag. If the yellow flag comes out before the leader gets to the start/finish line, the field is frozen at the instant of caution and the finishing order is determined by photographic evidence and video replays (note that Carl Edwards was never penalized when he imitated Ricky Bobby's run to the finish after wrecking at the end of the 2009 spring Talladega race).
    • Ricky Bobby's car is shown to have a 5-speed transmission with a reverse gear. At the time of the film, NASCAR only allowed a 4-speed transmission with a reverse gear. The Cup Series didn't change to a 5-speed transmission (plus reverse) until 2022 (all other NASCAR series still mandate a 4-speed with reverse).note 
  • Driven: The scene of the main characters having an impromptu grudge match in their race cars through the evening Chicago rush hour; Not only would the average race driver be fired for such a reckless stunt but they certainly wouldn't be able to use their regular car. Most single seat race cars need a team of mechanics to operate the computer systems, heat the tires, start the car with an external starter, and to strap the driver's belts since he/she cannot do that themselves.
  • Used to very painful effect in the Wesley Snipes version of The Fan. Errors include live video replay on the Jumbotron (which is not allowed), video of arguments between players or brawls (also not allowed), a player getting his number assigned on Opening Day (numbers are assigned during Spring Training), and the climactic scene occurring at a baseball game played during a downpour.
  • In the 1963 Disney film Son of Flubber, Professor Brainard comes up with an ingenious way to help the local high school football team win: he'll fill up a player's uniform with his new discovery, "flubber gas", to make him light and buoyant. The other players, instead of passing just the ball, will throw him with the ball, so even if he is tackled, the team will retain possession of the ball. The only problem with such a ploy? It's that Rule 17 section 6 of the official football rulebook, passed in 1910, specifically outlaws players on the offensive team from pushing, pulling, or holding the player carrying the ball. Nobody in the film, including the referees, seem to be aware of this.
  • The Absent-Minded Professor: flubber gives basketball players shoes that allows them to take gigantic leaps. Unfortunately, by making several leaps in a row (as they do), without passing or dribbling the ball, they should be immediately called for travelling. Unlike a lot of the examples on this page, the opposing coach does realize that Medfield's game techniques are far from kosher, and complains about it loudly to the referee... whose only response is "Ain't no rule says one team can't jump higher than the other!" Which would be true if they weren't using artificial aids to jump higher, which certainly fall under "any equipment that is designed to increase a player's height or reach or in any other way give an unfair advantage is not permitted." Possibly as a technical foul under "sportsmanship and fair play", or because referees "have the power to make decisions on any point not specifically covered by these rules." Also happens in the re-make Flubber.
  • The movie It Happens Every Spring is about a college professor who discovers a wood-repellent compound and uses this discovery to become a successful major league pitcher. The movie never addresses the fact that applying any kind of foreign substance to the ball is match-fixing of the most blatant variety: his pitches would qualify as a spitball, which was banned by Major League Baseball in 1920. Even more surprisingly, none of the umpires or opposing players seem the least bit suspicious of all the physics-defying things that the professor's pitches do. (His pitches move normally right up until they reach the plate, then suddenly hop over the batter's bat as he swings. These days, the mere hint of not-kosher movement in a pitch will cause the opposing team to demand the umpire check the ball and/or the pitcher's glove.)
  • The Waterboy:
    • After it's discovered that the coach forged Bobby Boucher's high school transcript to get him on the team, making him an ineligible player, the NCAA allows Bobby to still play in the team's bowl game if he passes a high school equivalency exam. In reality, not only would the NCAA not allow that, the whole team would have been forbidden to play in the game and likely would have had to forfeit all its wins for the season. In addition, the idea of a coach purposely forging a high school transcript would have caused such a scandal that he would undoubtedly have either been fired or forced to resign.
    • Bobby at one point also assaults the quarterback of the team he's working for as waterboy (albeit with a good form tackle, but he still wasn't in the game), dropkicks an opposing player during play, and attacks a college professor during class. Any one of these actions would probably result in a player being suspended/expelled indefinitely in real life, but Bobby doesn't get so much as a slap on the wrist.
  • The Mighty Ducks:
    • District Five takes the ice in its first game wearing so-called "tape-to-your-shins"—a smattering of used or inappropriate pads (like a football helmet). Every league for kids mandates proper helmets with full face cages; they would never be allowed to take the ice that way.
    • Later, Gordon tries to get Conway to take a dive and fake an injury in order to draw a penalty. Conway gets pinned to the boards, but refuses to act hurt. Amusingly, in that scene you can see the other player's stick jammed up under Conway's face mask, which is a legitimate penalty.
    • The Flying V just avoids being illegal provided that A. The players pass the puck forward after crossing the blue line, and B. The players ahead of the puck don't initiate contact with a defender for interference. It would still be a really stupid formation in real life, however, as all the defense has to do is gang up on the lead man to either steal the puck or force the V offside (which is exactly what Iceland did in D2).
    • The Ducks' win over the Huskies in the final game of the regular season gave them a playoff spot, the 8th and final seed, which should have meant facing the top-seeded Hawks in the first round - the most likely case given that there are 10 teams in the league (going by the chalkboard standings and district map in Hans' shop), it's stated all but two make the playoffs (one of these are the Panthers, who forfeited their season due to measles), and the overall poor record of the Ducks at 1 win, 12 losses, and 1 tienote ; the Cubs and Tigers were the next two teams in the standings but both are 4-7-1, which the Ducks couldn't possibly match with two games left.
  • D2: The Mighty Ducks:
    • Dwayne Robertson gets a penalty for "roping". Um, what about "too many players on the ice"? Or a game misconduct penalty for leaving the bench? The film did lampshade it by having the announcer say, "Two minutes for... roping? That's a new one on me." Dwayne also went onto the ice without his helmet, gloves or stick and was carrying a non-hockey-related instrument (the rope). Considering the sheer number of rules he was breaking at once, it's surprising he wasn't ejected.
    • The big heel team is the noted ice hockey power of Iceland. In spite of the country's name, Iceland was not and still is not a hockey powerhouse in real life (they were granted membership into the IIHF, the sport's ruling international body, in 1992, barely a year or two before the movie was released). Steven Brill, who wrote the screenplay, freely admits to invoking the trope here with the justification that Russia wouldn't work as the heel team due to the Soviet Union collapsing and that they didn't want to offend any of the countries that were actually hockey savvy (Canada, Sweden, etc.) and hurt the film's performance there.
    • D2 also has them playing Trinidad and Tobago whose team is on the movie poster and DVD cover. Trinidad and Tobago does not have an ice hockey team.
    • In the final seconds of the championship game, never mind that Russ switched places with Goldberg to get the shot off at the end of the game, which involved him wearing goalie equipment (non-goalie players cannot wear goalie equipment) — under no circumstances can anyone take off their helmet while on the ice anymore!
    • In the final shootout to decide the tournament winner of D2, neither Fulton's nor Gunnar Stahl's penalty shots should have counted as they both clearly come to a complete stop and then shoot. During a shootout or penalty shot, the puck must always move forward.
    • During the film, the Ducks' star player Adam gets injured when an opposing player deliberately hits him with his stick on his arm that was exposed after he removed his glove. The film treats this as slashing, a common minor penalty where a player swings their stick at an opposing player. In reality, deliberately using a heavy overhead swing with your stick is not only a much stiffer penalty (intent to injure), it legally qualifies as assault. A similar real-life incident in the NHL happened in 2000 when Marty McSorley intentionally hit Donald Brashear in the head with his stick at the very end of a game; it netted him a suspension for the rest of that season by the NHL and an assault with a weapon conviction by the British Columbia Provincial Court (carrying with it an 18-month probation).note 
  • Pretty much every instance of body contact shown in Slap Shot would be an obvious interference penalty.
    • Also, the final game of the film ends with the referee disqualifying Syracuse after one of their players punches him. While intentionally striking a referee in any official sport is a serious offense (so much so that an NHL player named Billy Coutu was suspended from the NHL for life after he attacked two referees), in most hockey games, the correct course of action for attacking a referee is a game misconduct penalty.
  • David Mamet's Redbelt features a heavily fictionalized version of Mixed Martial Arts.
    • The main character is offered a chance to fight on the undercard of an event for a flat $50,000, though real fight purses are divided into a "show purse" for fighting and a "win purse" awarded if the fighter wins.
    • The plot revolves around the concept of implementing randomly-assigned handicaps before each bout, which would never fly in the real world. Athletic commissions are very strict about ensuring that fighters can adequately defend themselves.
    • The promotion hides the identity of the stage magician they use to hand out the supposedly random handicaps. In reality, all officials participating in a fighting event need to be properly licensed by the athletic commission, which would make their identities public knowledge.
    • The promoters state that the whole point of the handicap gimmick is to make the handicapped fighter lose, allowing them to fix the fights. If every fight was determined by a randomly-assigned handicap, no one would bother watching. It defeats the entire point of athletic competition. This is to say nothing about how unlikely it would be that gamblers and gambling institutions would ever buy the chicanery in the first place.
  • Nacho Libre takes a great many liberties with professional wrestling:
    • Obviously, the most glaring issue is that it presents wrestling as real and not staged, but this can be forgiven for the sake of the plot. However, certain basic rules in professional wrestling (even in kayfabe) are ignored. For example, to finish one match, the hero receives a tombstone piledriver, a move which is illegal in most of Mexico, where the story is set. In the climax of the film, he even pins his opponent outside the ring. While there are special matches that allow pinning anywhere, this was an ordinary match, yet he does not pin his opponent in the ring. Rule of Cool doesn't even really apply here, as while the reason his opponent was outside the ring in the first place was so the hero could perform a physics-defying dive attack from the turnbuckle, there's no reason he couldn't have thrown his dazed opponent into the ring to pin him legally.
    • Under traditional lucha libre rules, tampering with an opponent's mask before making the pin results in an automatic forfeit. Nacho should have won at least two matches that way.
  • The film Agent for H.A.R.M. features a character heading to the "judo range". Seeing as judo is a martial art focused on grappling, it is unlikely to require a 'range'.
  • Unlike other films in The Love Bug series, the last race of Herbie Fully Loaded takes place in what is, if not NASCAR itself, then a clearly NASCAR-like organization. Assuming Team Peyton could get permission to race a Volkswagen (not likely, given the time frame), Herbie is clearly A) too old, B) (to the naked eye) has no racing modifications, C) possesses NO safety gear (Restraint harness? Roll cage? Nope!). Herbie shouldn't have even been allowed to pass a cursory pre-race inspection. Lampshaded, as one of the race announcers states that someone must have performed some kind of Loophole Abuse, but even then Herbie could have only qualified as an honorary pace car.
  • In the 1994 Disney version of Angels in the Outfield, during the climactic final game, announcer Ranch Wilder says the Chicago White Sox will have the "heart of the order" - which usually refers to the team's 3-4-5 hitters - leading off the ninth inning against the Angels. Kit Keezy ends up being the sixth batter in the inning, which would mean he was eighth in the lineup. Not the most likely spot for the Sox to place the guy who's leading the league in RBI. In fact, had the script called for Wilder to say the "bottom" of the lineup - the 7-8-9 hitters - that would have put Keezy in the more likely 3 spot.
    • There's also the rather obvious error that the Angels merely won the AL West Division at the end of the movie. To "win the Pennant", they would've needed to win the American League Championship and go the World Series, which would've required them beating the AL East Champion in the American League Championship Series under the rules at the time.
  • 2004's Mr. 3000
    • The film is about a baseball player who retires immediately after getting his 3,000th hit. Years later, it's discovered that due to a clerical error, he actually has only 2,997 hits. Everyone acts as though this completely torpedoes his chances of getting into the Hall of Fame. In actuality, nearly every player with at least 2,800 hits has been elected to the Hall in their first year of eligibility, usually by a comfortable margin. The film makes some stab at handwaving this as being the result of his bad attitude.
    • The climax of the film has the two teams tied at 0-0 in the bottom of the 9th inning, with a runner on second base and less than 2 outs. The protagonist chooses to bunt to advance the runner. The runner does not stop at third, but continues to home. The fielding team chooses to throw the hitter out at first rather than ensure the runner does not score the walk-off run and end the game. It is completely nonsensical for a team to sacrifice the game in order to make an out.
  • The 2005 film Fever Pitch gets pretty much everything wrong in its climactic scene: No one would've been scalping tickets in the eighth inning (and virtually every stadium closes off attendance after the first several innings), Lindsey survives a feet-first 30 foot fall well enough from Fenway's "Triangle" wall to be shown on TV running on the field (TV broadcasts are mandated not to show fans running on the field, in order to discourage that type of behavior), and is allowed to carry a conversation lasting more than one full minute with Ben before being taken away by security (apparently, Talking Is a Free Action at Fenway Park).
  • The 2012 Clint Eastwood film Trouble with the Curve quickly became notorious in baseball circles for its highly unrealistic portrait of baseball scouting and player development. Sportswriter Joe Posnanski has an entry on his blog detailing the many errors and improbabilities in the movie.
  • The Bring It On films stand as an example here for the ubiquitous artistic licence used in just about any fictional work about high school cheerleading. Firstly, for the sake of Fanservice, the costumes are usually stomach-baring or even more Stripperiffic, which is not allowed in high school cheerleading. note  Secondly, for extra spectacle, the routines often feature elements like pyramids, throws and trampoline-assisted leaps which are banned in high-school cheerleading as excessively dangerous.
  • At the end of Mean Girls, Regina is shown having taken up lacrosse as an outlet for her anger. She runs over practically the entire other team to score a goal, but every single contact would be a foul in real life.
  • Granted, the Disney Channel movie H-E Double Hockey Sticks already takes creative liberties by featuring two fictitious NHL teams in the Delaware Demons and Annapolis Angels. Still, assuming the movie refers to Annapolis, Maryland, those teams would not face each other for the Stanley Cup since they would both be in the NHL's Eastern Conference (and most likely the same division) due to their geographic proximity. Then again, a variant of this has happened in real life. In the 1970s and early 1980s, intraconference (like 1978's Bruins/Canadiens matchup) and even intradivision Stanley Cup Finals (like 1980's Flyers/Islanders matchup) were allowed in order to make the Cup Final more competitive while the NHL sorted out their interconference parity problem.
  • It would probably be faster to list everything about baseball the 1994 film The Scout got right, than to break down its impressive list of factual errors. However some key points:
    • First of all, a scout is just that: goes around scouting talent and reporting back to the team. This could be either an advance scout who watches opposing teams to help the manager establish his strategy against an upcoming opponent, and scouts analyzing prospects or free agents on whether the team should consider approaching them. He would not himself be the go-between for signing players, which would instead involve the team's owners and either the prospect or his agent.
    • The young pitcher at the start of the film, Tommy Lacy, as a kid with no professional experience, would never have jumped right into the Major Leagues unless the team's ownership and management was utterly incompetent or dangerously impatient to see a return on the signing (there are real-life examples, but they are few and far between). He would have been started in the Minor Leagues first, and played his way up through the farm system precisely because of his unknown quality (in Real Life, highly-touted prospects more often than not fizzle out before they even reach the Majors). For the same reason it's incredibly unlikely that Nebraska would have pitched his very first professional game in the World Series.
    • After the bidding war on Steve Nebraska, the other teams are able to force an agreement that he can only pitch if the Yankees make the World Series. However, the other teams do not get to dictate such terms. Al also promises to Steve he doesn't have to pitch until then, but this leads to another problem: For a player to be eligible to play in the postseason at the time the film was made, he had to be on the team's 40-man roster at the close of the regular season. Which means unless the Yankees allowed Nebraska to take up a spot despite not playing, he shouldn't have even been eligible to pitch.
    • The game at the climax is played in Yankee Stadium, an American League ballpark. At the time of the film, the American League had the Designated Hitter rule, in which the pitcher does not bat, and the National League did not, requiring pitchers to hit. The rule did allow teams to waive their DH and allow the pitcher to bat instead, but this almost never happened. note  It's never happened in a postseason game, and will almost certainly never happen in the future because the NL adopted the DH in 2022.
  • In Hoodlum, a scene is introduced with the title card "December 1934" and then shows Dutch Schultz listening to a Yankees game in his office. In those days, the baseball season was always finished by the second week of October, and it has never extended into December.
  • Deliberately invoked in Rudy. In real life, it was all Dan Devine's decision to let Rudy play in Notre Dame's final game of the year. But it was also the real-life Devine's suggestion that his fictional counterpart be the one holding Rudy back in the movie and instead make the other players stand up for him.
  • Warrior gets a lot right about Mixed Martial Arts, but still takes liberties. For example, one character very obviously gets his arm broken in the middle of a bout, but continues to fight on. In reality, getting your arm broken would result in an immediate stoppage, no matter how much you want to continue fighting. For example, Tim Sylvia was forced to concede the UFC heavyweight title after getting his arm broken by Frank Mir, despite his pleas to continue fighting.
  • In ...All the Marbles with Peter Falk, women's wrestling apparently is as un-fake as the Super Bowl results.
  • The movie version of Arsenic and Old Lace opens with a scene of a fight breaking out during a Yankees-Dodgers game...on Halloween. While it's technically possible nowadays for the World Series to stretch into October 31 and beyond, such a thing would have been unheard-of in The '40s.note 
  • Quite a bit of artistic license involving karate tournaments in The Karate Kid franchise:
    • The All-Valley Under 18 Karate Championships involve only kumite (point sparring). For starters, the series have them deal heavy contact to their opponent for points, often with knockdowns or blows to the head, which would NEVER be allowed in any youth sport, even in the 80s — the only disqualifying moves were when Bobby was ordered to target Daniel's leg in the first film, and Hawk's cheap shot on Robby's shoulder in Cobra Kai. Some contenders even do flips or other wild moves on the floor, which would have anyone doing them warned or disqualified for lack of safety. Also, until the All-Valley Tournament gets re-formatted for the fourth season of Cobra Kai, it does not have any events for kata (empty hand form) or kobudo (weapon form), which nearly every karate tournament would have as well.
    • The Karate Kid Part III:
      • Mike Barnes's fouls on Daniel in the final showdown were so blatant and close together, even the most lenient referee would've disqualified him halfway through the match. Not only that, but in any sane tournament, Barnes would have earned himself and his whole dojo an instant ban for punching Daniel between rounds. Ultimately, the first season of Cobra Kai reveals that the original Cobra Kai and any successor was given a lifetime ban from the All-Valley Tournament due to Barnes, Kreese and Terry Silver's antics, and only an impassioned speech from Johnny to the tournament's oversight committee gets the new Cobra Kai reinstated over Daniel's objections, with Johnny being helped by the fact that he had cut ties with Cobra Kai after Kreese tried to kill him in the beginning of Part II for losing to Daniel, and thus didn't know who Barnes or Silver were.
      • Daniel being given a free pass to the final rounds due to winning the previous year's tournament would not happen in any legitimate tournament, and clearly was done so the writers could skip over a tournament montagenote . The writers for Cobra Kai, like everyone else, clearly noticed this was bullshitnote , and so the rules from the first film are used instead. As a result, in the season 1 finale, the previous year's champion, Xander Stone, is shown fighting his way to the finals, so Miguel Diaz eliminating him in the semifinals is even more impressive. And in season 4, as defending champion, Miguel has to once again fight his way to the top, with the added benefit of proving himself capable of fighting cleanly and with honor despite still recovering from back injuries he sustained in the school brawl at the end of season 2.
  • It's a well-known fact that The Love Guru star/producer/writer Mike Myers is a big hockey fan, so the many egregious errors in the sport's portrayal - like the referee handing out on-the-spot game suspensions, goalies wearing outdated Friday the 13th style plastic masks and Guru Pitka having free access to the Toronto bench - can be put down as Rule Of (allegedly) Funny.
  • The Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen vehicle Switching Goals is a movie about soccer that manages to get some basics of the sport wrong. It is shown to allow timeouts, have plays (like in American football), and shoving another player when you're the one in possession of the ball isn't counted as a foul (in a kids' game no less!).
  • Ace Ventura
    • A plot point is a 1984 AFC Championship ring. Yet while the resulting Super Bowl that year featured the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers, that was Super Bowl XIX, despite the film referring to it as XVII (which the Dolphins also lost, only to the Washington Redskins (now Commanders), not the Niners, and took place before Dan Marino joined the Dolphins). Also, Miami never lost by a last-second field goal in either game; that was based on the last-second kick missed by Scott Norwood of the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV. Granted, Norwood never lived down missing that kick, but thankfully, he didn't take things nearly as far as Ray Finkle does in this movie. Norwood actually played for the Bills for one more season, during which the team made it to the Super Bowl again.
    • The motive behind Finkle's villainy is due to the hatred he received from fans after missing the field goal. In real life, the Buffalo fandom was generally supportive of Norwood, as can be seen on the ESPN documentary Four Falls of Buffalo.
  • Bull Durham:
    • Early in the film Nuke is said to have compiled 18 strikeouts and 18 walks in his first start. This would require a mathematical minimum of 126 pitches (already a high count for a rookie in the minors) and in reality probably more than 200 pitches (an absurdly high number).
    • Annie tells Crash that if he hits 247 home runs in the minor leagues, he'll be the all-time minor league champion. In reality, Buzz Arlett was the all-time minor league home run champion at the time of the film, having hit 432 by the time he retired in 1937.
    • At the end, Nuke is called up to the majors from the A-ball Durham Bulls, having never gone through the AA or AAA levels. This is not unheard-of—Minnesota Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco made his major league debut as a single-A call-up—but it is incredibly rare. More likely he would have been moved up during the season if he'd been dominating A ball. You can't use the Majors' expanded September roster as a reason since the Bulls' season wasn't over. Minor Leagues that are affiliated with Major League teams end their season in August because of the 40-man Major League rosters that were in use before 2020.note  This plot point would actually make sense nowadays because the Bulls became a Triple-A team in 1998, which ironically was in large part due to their brand recognition from this movie making them arguably the best-known minor league team in the country.
  • 42: While mostly true to the sport, some license was used with the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Major League: In the second movie, Cerrano kills a bird with a swing; he goes into the outfield to mourn the bird and has to be tagged out. In Major League Baseball rules, he's out once he abandons his effort to run to the next base. Also only eight spots in the batting order, not nine, elapse between Taylor's groundout in the 7th inning and his bunt single in the 9th.
  • Million Dollar Baby: During the title bout, the Blue Bear commits several fouls that would result in immediate automatic disqualification in a real boxing match, but only receives warnings and/or point deductions for them.
  • Speedy: The Yankees are playing at home, but the scoreboard on the street (as well as the impromptu line score Harold makes with doughnuts) has them batting in the top of the inning.
  • The Natural: The New York Knights somehow are batting in the bottom of the inning in Chicago despite being the visiting team.
  • Varsity Blues: In two games, Mox hits an obnoxious mascot on the sideline with the ball after the snap. The film treats this as a clever way to stop the clock (i.e. spike the ball). In reality, this would be ruled as intentional grounding and would result in a loss of a down and ten yards.
  • 1992's Mr. Baseball: The final climax involves the main character coming to bat with his team down one run and with bases loaded, two outs. He bunts after receiving two strikes against him, then essentially plows over a fielder while running to first base before he can get the force out, allowing two runs to score and his team to win the game. The former, bunting with two strikes, is legal, but an extremely risky play that goes against all common sense since a foul ball would mean a third strike, and a third out. note  However, outright shoving the fielder would be called interference, resulting in Selleck's character being called out by the umpire and no score. Not to mention that the first baseman is inexplicably absent from the bag he's supposed to be covering, necessitating the pitcher race the runner to it instead of a simple throw to him.
  • Necessary Roughness: Played for Laughs in the scene where Samurai clobbers half the opposing offense with his martial arts skills. The ref gives up trying to tally all the penalties he racks up and just calls "15 yards, first down" - though he gives up less because he lost track of the penalties and more because he lost the thread in describing the moves Samurai used. In a real game, the ref would go straight to "Personal Foul: Unsportsmanlike Conduct, Defense." And Samurai would've been ejected before he even announced the penalty.
  • Cool Runnings - Oh boy:
    • The Switzerland bobsleigh is shown as having "Schweiz"note  painted along the side, instead of "Suisse"note , the one the Swiss teams traditionally use.
    • The competition is shown has being decided on three runs over three days, rather than four runs over two days.
    • Each sport in the Winter Olympics is organized by its respective world governing body, rather than the "International Alliance of Winter Sports".
    • As there is no set length for a bobsleigh runnote , world records don't exist in the sport.
  • Whip It has one in the first bout shown on-screen: In the first jam, Iron Maven makes one scoring pass ahead of Bloody Holly and calls off the jam (ends the play in progress, preventing the opposing jammer (point-scoring player) from scoring). The score shown is 7-0 over the Hurl Scouts. After only a single scoring pass without lapping the opposing jammer, the maximum possible score would be 4-0.
  • Virtuosity: SID crashes an Ultimate Fighting Championship event that, in spite of the Product Placement, is very inaccurate:
    • There are two fights going on at one time, something you might see in a pro wrestling show, but not a Mixed Martial Arts event.
    • Michael Buffer makes announcements mid-fight and from a platform above the Octagon. In reality, Buffer's half-brother Bruce is the UFC's announcer, and he makes announcements between fights from inside the ring.
    • The promotion plays a dance beat during the fight, to which the entire crowd chants "Kapow!" like some sort of cult ritual. UFC events don't play music during fights, and audience participation musical numbers are not an MMA tradition. The closest you might get is the occasional soccer chant among fans of a particular fighter.
  • Far and Away: In the 1890s, Joseph's use of speed and agility to sidestep and dodge in a bare-knuckle boxing match is treated as a novel style that other boxers, accustomed to simply standing still and pummeling their opponents, have never seen before. In reality, boxers began learning this style about 100 years before the events of the film, when the undersized Daniel Mendoza reigned as the heavyweight champion of Britain in the early 1790s and began training others in his "scientific" approach.
  • The Netflix film Girls With Balls is a dark comedy about a high school volleyball team stalked by deranged killers while on their way home from a tournament. In the opening scene, one of the girls uses her teammate's back as a springboard to gain extra height on a jump and spike the ball. This would fall under the category of an assisted hit, which is against the rules at all levels of competitive volleyball.
  • The Disney Channel film Double Teamed, which is based on the real lives of twin WNBA players Heather and Heidi Burge, combines this with Artistic License – History: The final shot depicts the two sisters playing on opposing teams in the WNBA. In Real Life, the Burge twins never played against each other in the pro leagues.
  • Go Figure:
    • Skating competitions at the national level will certainly have two programs — one longer and one shorter — that are held on separate days. For dramatic tension, however, the nationals competition here is presented as a single routine, and a winner is declared at the end.
    • The production aspects of Katelin's routine are fudged a bit as well. Her score has lyrics, but the International Skating Union did not allow music with lyrics for singles skaters until after the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Theatrical lighting is not used for competition routines either as the judges need to see your feet.
  • Balls of Fury has many strange takes on the rules of Table Tennis:
    • Many of the matches are decided based on an absurdly low number of points. Whilst this may be due to the whims of Feng, it will allow luck to have a far greater effect on the outcome than player skill.
    • At one point the protagonist is forced to play against his love interest, with the loser being slated for death. Both players are unwilling to win, so they end up deliberately hitting the ball directly at each other's bats to force returns. In real life it would be effortless to lose on purpose by hitting the ball sideways, turning your back or even repeatedly flubbing serves.
    • Similarly, in the final match Feng changes the rules so that the ball can be returned by hitting it against any surface, not just the table. This results in both players engaging in a crazy duel involving bouncing the ball all over the place when they should be able to just hit the balls sideways, backwards or against a non-bouncy surface like the carpet to make it impossible to return.
    • At the climax, the protagonist takes advantage of Feng's incomplete training - he doesn't know how to hit backhand. Backhand shots are a fundamental part of the game that anyone who had played for more than five minutes would know how to use, so the idea that Feng never encountered this scenario is ridiculous.
  • Caddyshack: Harold Ramis, later in his career, would note that one of his major dissatisfactions with the film is that Michael O'Keefe is the only person in the cast who knew how to swing a golf club worth a damn.

  • The Black Stallion. Another one of those cases where something was within the rules when it was made, but not now... except it's a long runner, and the series kept following the obsolete rule. The rule in question? Allowing a "Mystery Horse" (i.e. a horse of uncertain breed) such as Black to enter a special match race that had been arranged between two champion racehorses, Cyclone and Sun Raider. Match races (Real Life examples include Seabiscuit vs War Admiral, Man o' War vs Sir Barton, Swaps vs. Nashua) weren't run under normal race rules. The Black later gets an identity and is glossed over as being admitted to the Jockey Club stud book (implausible, as it's a closed book, but not completely impossible—Thoroughbreds are descended from three Arab and Barb foundation stallions and if the Black were real a very strong argument could be made for his being a new foundation sire) and sires offspring on Thoroughbred mares. A problem of The Film of the Book is Alec throwing away his 'disguise' helmet. If the race had the same weight rules as regular racing, he just disqualified himself as he'd come up too light on the re-weigh jockeys must do AFTER a race, to make sure they're not cheating.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot: The lunch ladies win at tug-of-war because one of them was sitting down and had the rope tied around her waist. This would be massively illegal in real life tug-of-war competition.
  • Harry Potter: Quidditch is a fictional sport that has its own set of rules,note  but (as pointed out by Rempton Games in his video discussing it) there are several aspects of the game that do not follow even the most basic, universal rules & practices of any team-based sport:
    • Each team has only seven players, no more & no less. In real life, team sports tend to have additional players on the roster during games in order to serve as backup in case if any players get injured, exhausted, or otherwise are unable to play, which is a regular occurrence. And generally in youth/school-based sports all members of the team are rotated regularly during a game. If a team did not have any backup players when a replacement is needed, they'd either have to forfeit a game or play with a smaller roster at a major disadvantage against the opposing team. Since Quidditch is such a dangerous sportnote  it’s incredibly odd that any team would not have additional members for their roster.
    • Quidditch Teams, or at least the teams that play at Hogwarts, do not have any coaches. Most practices and strategizing is organized by the Team Captain. Coaches in real life are a neccesity in sports in order to have the players practice properly, to work well together, to learn the best ways to effectively use the team's players, motivate them properly, organize the team's & its members various schedules, etc. Plus, during games they examine, strategize, & motivate their players from the sidelines to have the team play well. Having a fellow player essentially serve the coaching position is very impractical and inefficient, as s/he would be performing double-duties during games & practices that would be near-impossible for any normal person to do effectively, much less in a game as dangerous as Quidditch. And that's without mentioning the fact that said captain would be a fellow student. Adult Coaches in schools would be vital since the students who join the team would need further guidance to learn more about the game & how to play well as a part of the team, along the years of expertise they’d have with the sport is beneficial for any player, something that no student, no matter how skilled with the sport, could provide. And finally, the aforementioned lack-of-backup-players means losing the team captain would be extremely detrimental in any game.
    • Even if one were to ignore the Golden Snitch Rule and its excessive value, the mere fact of having players chase the Snitch at all is one as well. It means that the game is essentially two separate and largely unrelated games that are happening simultaneously; one where the players try to score points and the other where two seekers race to catch the snitch. It goes without saying, but there has never been a sport in real life where such a practice exists; it would make the sport difficult to follow for both players & spectators, and audiences would only choose to follow one of the two simultaneous games.note 
    • Also, the games themselves are shown to have regular in-game commentary broadcast to the entire stadium (similar to sport commentators on TV & Radio). Having in-game real-time commentary is very distracting to the players and spectators alike, and would actually make the game prone to cheating, since players could listen to the commentators to know what their opponents are doing, and/or simply disrupt the game (which is shown to happen in the books on occasion). Harry even was able to find & catch the snitch during one game simply because the commentator noted the opposing team’s seeker was chasing it.
  • In Edward Bloor's Tangerine, one of the climactic moments features protagonist and goalie Paul Fisher needing to stop a last-second penalty kick so that his team will tie their rival and his former team, winning the league in the process. It's a fairly uplifting idea with one small problem: it completely gets wrong the way soccer leagues are scored. See, Paul's team is undefeated whereas the other team is undefeated but has played one more game during the season; the additional game ended in a tie. The problem? According to the scoring rules for soccer leagues, the winner is the team with the most points at the end of the season, not just the highest winning percentage. Since a tie is worth one point and a win is worth three, Paul's team needs to win, not tie, in order to win the league. And to make matters worse, they could have done this if they had just had the climactic penalty kick occur with Paul's team up by one goal. But of course, that would be less dramatic...
  • In another Gordon Korman book, The Chicken Doesn't Skate, the book's junior high hockey team has a player unload a slap shot the sails 20 feet over the goal, hits a balcony, busts a light on the scoreboard, and drops back down near center ice for the opposing team to take it and score. Uh, no. Even accepting the physics-defying speed and distance the puck goes, it would have been whistled dead once it cleared the boundaries of the ice.
  • Avalon High in the movie adaptation, despite what's depicted, a blocked extra-point kick returned for a defensive touchdown only earns two points, not six (and not even that, except in Texas and Massachusetts—in the other 48, it's an immediate dead ball).
  • The Man Who Brought the Dodgers Back to Brooklyn:
    • When Bobby signs Ruthie to the team, she immediately joins the main Dodgers roster. In modern baseball, rookies — especially unknown pitchers with no professional experience — typically go through the minor leagues before hitting the majors.
    • Bobby would also have had to contend with the MLB's ban on women, which was still in effect when the book was written. The book didn't address the issue whatsoever.
  • Tortall Universe: Tamora Pierce's portrayal of jousting is hilariously inaccurate in both the rules as well as the equipment. While the differences in rules can be Hand Waved by Tortall not being Medieval Europe, so it can have its own rules for sporting events, what can't be hand-waved is the fact that unless they are fighting honor-duels with the intent to kill, knights tilt in nothing more than a helmet, a shield, and a gambeson (padded shirt), even though plate armour is the norm when knights step out onto an actual battlefield. In real life, anybody who jousted with anything less than a full suit of plate armour would probably die from the first hit they took, and most knights heavily reinforced the left side of their armour anyway, just to make sure.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One Kirk bowling episode, "The Spare", has so many faults that even casual bowlers are screaming at the television. For instance, mistaking a 6-pin for a 10-pin; all four members of a team bowling one game together (usually they bowl games separately); one team is leading by one pin before the ninth, and all of a sudden in the 10th that team needs three strikes to win, even when the other team got two gutter balls in the ninth. Perhaps this example would've been shorter if we had listed the stuff about bowling they got right.
    • The 'one game together' might just be written off as some weird variant of Scotch Double, where two players play a game together, one playing first ball, and the other the second, until a strike is made where they switch.
    • Also, in recent years the variant of a five-player team bowling one game together has been the go-to variant for high-school and college bowling competitions. But it would not have been nearly as popular in the mid-'90s when Kirk aired.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • In the opening host segment for The Wild World of Batwoman, Mike is trying to teach the Bots Blackjack. Crow "hits" on two decks worth of cards, all without even looking at his cards, before trying to double down. Even though, under some rules, you can go as high as eight hits (which is the most you can statistically draw before hitting or going over 21note ), the standard rule is three (a "5-Card Charlie" is holding five cards without busting, counting as an automatic win for the player).
    • In the opening for Red Zone Cuba, Mike and The Bots are playing "high stakes" bingo and Magic Voice calls out "B-37." On standard Bingo cards, B holds numbers 1-15. 37 would be under "N".
  • Cricket enthusiast Aaron Sorkin included in Sports Night a line regarding a player who in an international Test Match, one of the bowlers had achieved the remarkable feat of taking all 10 wickets in a single innings (only achieved twice at that point - Jim Laker in 1956 and Anil Kumble in 1999, with Ajaz Patel later achieving it in 2021), and compared it to a baseball pitcher throwing "3 straight perfect games." Whether that comparison is valid, the professional sports commentators can't understand how the bowler could have conceded any runs while doing this. Even with absolutely no knowledge of the rules of cricket, you'd presume they'd realise that the standards of scoring in the two games were different.
  • Wings
    • In the episode "The Team Player", Antonio, temporarily running the Sandpiper counter while Joe and Brian are away at a Bruins hockey game, causes the Bruins' star player, Danny "Dead End" Connelly, to miss the game. The wrath of all of Massachusetts descends on Joe and Brian, but the airline is saved from disaster when the hockey star abruptly leaves the team to sign a huge contract with their rivals. In what sporting league is one able to walk out on one's contract and immediately join a rival in the middle of the season? Not the NHL, at least. Not to mention for every pissed-off fan, there would've been four more ridiculing him for trying to play the "Do you know who I am?" card. If it was that close to game time, shouldn't he have been at the arena already? If such a thing happened in the real world, the sports media would have been chewing him out mercilessly.
    • In "Blackout Buggins", the group goes to Fenway Park to watch Roy sing the national anthem. After Roy finishes the song, a Red Sox player with the name Casey on his jersey is seen taking the field. The Red Sox have never featured player names on the back of their regular home jerseys.
  • Despite its growing popularity, lacrosse is rarely depicted in American movies and TV, so it was notable when an episode of NCIS made a big deal of a possible murder suspect having played lacrosse in college. However, when her stick was taken to be tested as the possible murder weapon, it was clearly a men's stick.
  • Sex and the City:
    • There's an episode in which a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel is purchased because it has "one leg shorter than the others" and shown at a Westminster-like dog show in that episode and without training, while in heat. There's a lot wrong here, starting with the fact that estrous is an immediate disqualification from dog shows. The idea that an unevenly hocked dog with no prior experience, an amateur handler and a disqualifying (as well as obvious and terribly disruptive to the other dogs) medical condition could win any sort of legitimate major dog show is as accurate as saying Carrie Bradshaw could enlist and play for the NFL. The only thing remotely justifying about it is that the judge was enamored with the handler—but even that wouldn't have helped her get all the way to the show ring.
    • Another episode had the four attending a Yankees game. When they take a visit to the locker room afterward, one unnamed player is seen wearing jersey number 9. The Yankees retired that number for Roger Maris.
  • In the Even Stevens episode "Head Games," Alan Twitty enters a baseball game as a relief pitcher. Coming straight from the dugout, he immediately steps on the mound and the game instantly resumes. Regardless of the level of play, baseball never works like this. Pitchers always warm up by throwing several practice pitches off to the side before entering the game (in college and professional leagues, this is the bullpen, but many youth league and high school teams just use an open field that's out of the way), and are then allowed several more warmup pitches while on the mound. Throwing a baseball hard repeatedly is one of the riskiest and most injurious things you can do to your body and should only be done once the arm muscles have been properly exercised and loosened. Not doing so can easily cause you to permanently damage your arm. Obviously, this is also an example of The Law of Conservation of Detail.
    • Which is why when a relief pitcher comes into the game due to an injury or ejection (the only situations where a reliever would enter the game without warming up beforehand), he is given as many warm-up pitches as he wants, as opposed to the 8 normally allotted when a relief pitcher comes in or at the start of an inning.
  • One episode of Happy Days has Potsie constantly interrupting Howard's attempt to watch a Braves game on TV, ultimately causing Howard to miss Hank Aaron hitting a game-winning home run. Howard shouldn't have been able to see that game at all; Milwaukee Braves games in the 50s were not locally televised.
    • Possibly justified in that the Braves road games were eventually telecast in Milwaukee. The Braves also played in two World Series while Hank Aaron was with the team (1957 and 1958) and those games aired on television to a national audience.
  • Saturday Night Live was guilty of this in a 2013 sketch featuring host Melissa McCarthy as Sheila Kelly, the aggressively abusive women's basketball coach at fictional NCAA Division III school Middle Delaware State (parodying former Rutgers men's coach Mike Rice). In an interview clip, the school's athletic director tries to defend her behavior by pointing out that the players are receiving a free education via athletic scholarships. Division III institutions are prohibited from giving out athletic scholarships; in fact, that's the main distinction between Division III and the other two divisions.note 
  • In the original series Doctor Who episode "The Curse of Fenric", the Doctor has perplexed Eldritch Abomination Fenric with a chess puzzle the being cannot solve. The solution is accidentally provided by the Doctor's companion Ace, the black and white pawns must work together! This is presented as a solution that Fenric, by his nature, could not comprehend. In reality, it's a solution that nobody who understands chess could comprehend. note 
    • The Doctor all but confirms this. He defeated Fenric using chess puzzles the first time they met. It is implied that he cheated then as well, counting on Fenric not to realize that, in the Doctor's case, Good is Not Nice.
  • In the "Stealing Home" episode of White Collar, everything about the heist during a Yankees game pretty much seems to be fine, until you see the date of the check handed to Neal, dated "3/7/12." Unless it was backdated, regular season games at the earliest start in late March, and normally at the beginning of April.
  • The Glee episode "Preggers" gives us the notorious "All the Single Ladies" football play. In real life, a play like that would get flagged for a false start, delay of game, illegal formation, playing music over the sound system while the play clock was running and illegal motion (more than one person moving before the snap).
  • A critical plot development in the second season of The Newsroom takes place during an interview with a subject who is obsessed with March Madness, the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament.note  A character even uses the game clock later to figure out that the interview tape was edited. However, the actual game being played on the background TV is a 2011 regular-season game between Kentucky and Florida (perhaps as a nod to Florida alum Stephen Root, who played the character being interviewed). The game was played at Kentucky, while March Madness games take place at neutral sites.
  • Occurs twice during Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, both in the case of Ronny's being a racing driver. During her introduction, she is shown winning the Italian Grand Prix (a Formula One race)... in a NASCAR car. For anyone not familiar with F1, this is functionally equivalent to winning the Indy 500 in a milk float made of concrete. It doesn't happen. However, it gets worse: during the episode "Once a Ranger", Ronny is shown winning the Monaco Grand Prix. Not only is pretty much the exact same shot with a different subtitle and attendant concrete milk float error (perhaps inevitable due to budget restrictions and the thematic context of the episode), in doing so it uses the same strip of tarmac in the middle of an ocean of grass that looked almost nothing like Imola, to begin with. The Monaco Grand Prix takes place on a street circuit.
  • Mysterious Ways: There are a few very basic errors when Declan and Peggy go bowling in "Spirit Junction."
    • First, Peggy asks why Declan didn't get bowling shoes, and he replies, "That's a long story." Bowling shoes are required because street shoes scuff up the lanes, and they were the only ones in the alley so it's not like he could have slipped through the cracks.
    • Second, Peggy says it's her turn again after Declan makes one throw. A frame of bowling consists of two attempts to knock down the pins unless you knock them all down on the first throw (for a strike).
    • Third, Declan keeps throwing gutterballs before throwing a strike by complete chance. However, he falls completely into the lane in the process, so the strike wouldn't count, as it's a foul if any part of your body crosses the foul line.
  • Haven: The Red Sox and Yankees finished a game in which the Red Sox overcome a 10-run deficit before noon. Even the Patriots' Day game in April starts at 10-11 a.m. Not technically impossible, but highly improbable, since non-high-scoring games between the two teams generally run 3-4 hours. The point is that, plot-wise, Audrey uses her foreknowledge of it to prevent people from dying and stop the "Groundhog Day" Loop, which alphabetically, is very close to this trope.
  • In the beach volleyball episode of Death in Paradise, much of the "volleyball game" shown is blatantly not legal play.
  • In Daredevil (2015), Matt's dad "Battlin' Jack" Murdock is said to have a losing record, but is still portrayed as a notable fighter. The posters on the walls at Fogwell's Gym show Jack headlining major events, and he fights televised matches against notable boxers, even being paid to take a dive. Real journeymen boxers, the kind with losing records, fight in obscurity and are matched against other no-names or young prospects looking for easy victories before becoming a name. There's little benefit in bribing a journeyman to take a dive because they're expected to lose against anyone of note.
  • In the Midsomer Murders, in the episode "Sleeper on the Hill" the sabre fencing is done with the pointy end when sabre is a slashing weapon. The coach's technique is also awful.
  • An episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody saw Mr. Moseby take the two to a Red Sox game to keep them out of the hotel for several hours, but Moseby ended up making himself Public Enemy #1 in Boston by catching a home run ball for them, making the batter out rather than being a hit (likely a double) and the beginning of a potential game-winning rally. In baseball, this is not how this works. If a ball is caught by a spectator out of play, the normal result of the play stands (in this case, probably a double), because they are not part of the field of play. The closest this could be true is if it was ruled spectator interference, as Moseby did lean over the front of the railing to make the catch, but regardless of whether or not he (or Zack or Cody, who juggled it between them because they "realized" what would have resulted if they caught it) caught it, if the umpire judged the fielder could have caught the fly ball, the batter would have been out. If the umpire had judged that the fielder would not have been able to catch it, the ball is dead and any bases the umpire judges the runners and batter would have made are awarded, meaning in no real case is Moseby at fault if this happens in reality (unless it becomes another Steve Bartman Incident).
  • In the episode "Minefield" of Star Trek: Enterprise, Archer tries to have a chat with Malcolm over breakfast and tells him that England made it to the finals of the World Cup. Barring a change to the schedule thanks to World War III, 2152 is not a World Cup year, though it would have UEFA Euro and the Summer Olympics.
  • In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina takes up martial arts for an episode and enters a tournament where she uses her magic to defeat a professional fighter, but later her conscience gets the better of her and she challenges him to a fair rematch. Real-life martial arts tournaments are strictly divided by sex.
  • In the Gary Unmarried episode "Gary Dates Louise's Teacher", Gary and his date Joan are sparring at a gym when Gary comments that Joan is "pretty good." Joan responds that she was a Golden Gloves champion, and when Gary expresses surprise that the Golden Gloves have female divisions, Joan responds that they don't. However, the first women's Golden Gloves bout took place in 1995, roughly 14 years before the episode aired. Additionally, even if that were not true, a mixed boxing match would not be sanctioned in the US.
  • Paintball as depicted in Community would invite injury, pain and destruction of property. Obviously a lot of that was necessary for Rule of Funny and Rule of Cool (although Troy's crotch protection and Chang's sunglasses are those and sensible safety wear), as well as it not being ideal to have the characters' faces obscured for most of the episodes.
  • Cobra Kai:
    • In the season 1 finale, Robby enters the All-Valley Under-18 Karate Championships as an unaffiliated combatant. This might work in certain types of tournaments or brackets but proper sponsorship and verification of abilities would be expected at this level. In The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi had to lie about Daniel being a black belt and steal one from an official's bag).
    • Aisha Robinson and Bert's participation in the All-Valley in season 1 establishes that the tournament does not have the gender or weight divisions that would be expected of a combat sport, largely so that all of the main characters can fight in the same tournament. This is changed in season 4, where the All-Valley Committee reformats the tournament to include gender divisions.
  • The premise of Ted Lasso involves the titular collegiate American football coach being hired to lead an English Premier League team despite his lack of knowledge of the sport. In real life, managers and coaches at the professional level are required by The Football Association to have an accredited coaching certification that involves proving their experience and knowledge with the sport. It would be impossible for someone like Ted Lasso to become a Premier League coach in reality for that reason.

  • "The Ballad of Fizzball McCann" by Greg Champion (who really should have known better) lists one too many fielders in McCann's field setup (no wicket-keeper was mentioned, although a Cricket side playing without a wicket-keeper would be just as odd).
  • Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" has the line "2-3 the count, with nobody on, he hit a high fly into the stands..." That should actually be "3-2 the count", since 2-3 would mean the titular BEHM had struck out, thus not hitting anything.
  • Bruce Springsteen's song "Glory Days" talks about a former high school baseball pitcher. It uses the term "speedball", a term all but unheard of on any baseball broadcast. The correct term of "fastball" would have worked just as well in the lyrics as there's no difference in syllables nor was there any rhyme involved.
  • The music videos for Remy's Magic: The Gathering Song Parodies tend to feature nonsensical board states and impossible plays, partially for the sake of the rhymes, partially as a Running Gag and partially to entice people to "correct" them and drive up engagement. For instance, in the music video for "The Play":
    • The beginning of the video shows a player with multiple black cards out despite having no sources of black mana (beyond one single-use gold token). He does, however, have pointless sources of two other colors.
    • The song revolves around a player who seems doomed to lose because he's at 1 life and his attacking opponent is casting a spell to kill both his blockers. He decides to save himself by casting Creeping Mold to kill the attacker and "countering" the kill spell with Veil of Summer to save his blockers. There are three problems: (1) Creeping Mold can only be played on one's own turn. (2) Veil of Summer will draw the last card in his deck, so he'll die to decking out when he's supposed to draw for his next turn. (3) His attempt to get around Abyssal Persecutor's "you can't win the game" effect doesn't work.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • It's very rare for Professional Wrestling to be portrayed as anything less than 100% real in fiction. In fact, many wrestling movies even feature the hero's refusal to take a dive to satisfy a shady promoter as a pivotal plot point. This may have been forgivable before The '90s when the average film or TV show's "Technical Consultant" would be trying to uphold kayfabe, but in the modern day, when even Vince McMahon himself admits it to be staged, one might think to take a look at the world behind the curtain... Understandable in the case of kids' shows, as the writers may feel acknowledging wrestling as scripted would be tantamount to saying Santa Claus isn't real to the target audience.
  • Of particular note here is an episode of Quantum Leap in which Sam leaps into the body of a wrestler playing a Foreign Wrestling Heel Russian; in this episode, it's confidently declared that wrestling actually is staged — except for the title matches, and Sam and his partner's refusal to take a dive in a tag-team title match is the main conflict of the episode.
  • In Forrest Gump (the novel, not the film), Forrest spends some time as a professional wrestler during a time when the fact that wrestling is staged is a carefully guarded secret. He's supposed to lose an important match, but a friend of his tells Forrest to break the script and try to win for real so they can make money on a bet. It was still occasionally common for a wrestler to "go into business for themselves", and most wrestlers had at least some background or training in "shoot wrestling" if such a situation were to occur. When it happened it was usually for much bigger stakes than a small amount of money because it would tend to kill the career of the man who broke the covenant as they get immediately blackballed by the bookers when they found out what happened.
  • Subverted in an episode of Family Matters. A series of unfortunate events led Carl and Steve to take the place & costumes of the Psycho Twins in a match against The Bushwhackers. They do take liberties with the scene, as wrestlers exchanging friendly jokes and commentary isn't unheard of, but they wouldn't shout it across the ring at each other because the live audience would hear. The Bushwhackers are portrayed as guys doing a job, and they're impressed at how Carl and Steve are doing well for "a couple of blokes off the street". However, when Steve mentions that Carl's a cop, suddenly It's Personal and the Bushwhackers stop pulling their punches, looking to actually hurt them. In a real promotion going stiff & "taking liberties" with another worker would cause backstage drama, but it's not mentioned at all.
  • Professional wrestlers can and will take offense to people calling it "fake" (especially to their face) because it implies they aren't actually doing actual work, or that it's not dangerous. Yes, the matches are played up to look a lot more like real fights, and the winner is often pre-determined, but as Mick Foley would point out, there is no way to "fake" jumping twenty feet through a table covered in thumbtacks.
  • This is totally inverted within the fanfic fandom. Browse through the wrestling section at and compare how much of it is based on kayfabe to how much of it is basically Real-Person Fic. The other half of the fandom, the "Internet Wrestling Community" (IWC), is exclusively made of smart marks who follow the wrestling programs, as well as taking it a step deeper and following the internal decisions, choices & drama of the promotions and wrestlers, and only discuss kayfabe in terms of how it impacts the storylines, not because they believe in the gimmicks or that the titles are 'real'.
  • Naturally averted in The Wrestler, where kayfabe at the lower levels of the game is quite accurately portrayed—and celebrated (sort of), being presented as its own kind of art, which Mickey Rourke's character is only too happy to risk his life for.
  • A constantly perpetuated error when referencing professional wrestling is calling a move a "piledriver" (often with the out-of-place modifier of "flying" or "atomic" piledriver) which is never used for the actual wrestling move of that name (where you hold someone upside down and drop them on their head). In George of the Jungle, one character announces a move as an "atomic piledriver" when it's clearly an elbow drop.
  • One accurate aversion happens in Married... with Children. Bud dresses up as the Masked Luchador Bumblebee in order to sneak himself and Kelly backstage of a wrestling event. Bud ends up in what's obviously supposed to be a Squash Match against real-life pro wrestler King Kong Bundy.note  King Kong is initially polite to Bud and agrees to go easy on him when he notices how nervous he is. Unfortunately, Bud ends up tripping in the ring and accidentally trying to pin Bundy when his back is turned, leading Bundy to think Bud was playing a fast one at which point he proceeds to completely demolish him. Wrestling is rife with cases where a normal "worked" match turns ugly and becomes a real fight (shoot) because one of them angered the other by accident or inexperience. Sometimes it's only momentary, like when Brock Lesnar rocked Braun Strowman with a legit punch after he got hit by a knee to the face, other times it turns into a brutal beatdown, like when female Japanese wrestler Yoshiko destroyed the much smaller Yasukawa due to a combination of jealousy over Yoshiko being booked to win her title. Yasukawa ended up in hospital with multiple broken facial bones.

  • In "Edinburgh", the first Birling Day episode of Cabin Pressure, Birling Day is the day of the final of the Six Nations rugby tournament. The Six Nations is a round robin tournament and doesn't have a final. Later episodes gloss over this: "Paris" just says Mr Birling is going to see "the rugby" without further details, and "Timbuktu" makes it the Rugby World Cup. "Edinburgh" also has a Wales-France match take place in the eponymous city, whereas Six Nations games are played in the home of one of the teams, and Mr Birling says beating France makes Wales "Triple Crown champions", rather than Six Nations champions — the Triple Crown awarded to a British Isles team who has won against all the others, so the game against France is irrelevant to that.

    Video Games 
  • There are several things odd about the boxing in Punch-Out!!. To begin with, the series seems to have no concept of weight divisions, which results in the comparatively scrawny Glass Joe being in the same group as Fat Bastard King Hippo. And then there are characters like Hoy Quarlow who use weapons. But hey, there's something super satisfying about the aptly-named Little Mac taking on heavyweight champions like Mr. Sandman and Mike Tyson. And winning. Similar to the Blades of Glory and Speed Racer examples above, the World Video Boxing Association is under no compulsion to obey standard boxing rules.
    • The series spin-off, Arm Wrestling, is worse. Robots are allowed to participate. Headbutts and setting your opponent on fire are allowed.
  • Election Year Knockout: Even by the standards set by Punch-Out!!, the opponents in this game have basically no respect for the real-world rules of boxing. This includes, but is not limited to, multiple illegal moves; forbidden accessories like A-Oh!'s lipstick and Chief Warrin's earings; characters using weapons in the ring like Cap'n Crenshaw's canon, Chief Warrin's bow and arrow, and Kim Jong BOOM's rockets; and two separate characters using literal magic in Ted Bruz and Mike Pious.
  • Blitz: The League. The entire game is devoted to the Rule of Cool, at the expense of any pretense of realism (are there any referees? How do players not suffer serious injury when they get literally piledrived into the ground after the play is dead?). However, in this case, it is something of a Justified Trope, as the series' makers are on record calling the NFL the "No Fun League" for forcing their licensed football titles to be squeaky-clean in terms of content, which pretty much forbids developers from even alluding to any of the shadier aspects of American Football culture. When EA got exclusive rights to the NFL license, Midway was more than happy to go completely over the top with their latest Blitz title, bringing in notorious ex-linebacker Lawrence Taylor as their spokesman, and hiring the writers of ESPN's controversial hit Playmakers to write the story.
    • In fact, BTL actually was a Playmakers licensed game, until the NFL forced ESPN to kill the show. Also, take in mind that Blitz was not the first time Midway made an Ain't No Rule style sports game: Arch Rivals is one of their earlier attempts at the genre, which they then followed with the popular NBA Jam series.
    • On a more minor note, several rules are tweaked in the name of Rule of Fun. Among other things, a first down requires 30 yards instead of 10 like in real-life football, due to players moving very quickly compared to how they would in real-life sports.
  • Practically all licensed sports titles avert this trope, due to their focus on providing the most realistic sports experiences possible for fans of the sport. A few, however, go in a less realistic, more arcade direction, realizing that some players feel that increased accessibility and the Rule of Cool are more important than a simulation experience. Examples include Midway's NBA Ballers games and EA's Street series of sports games. A former licensed example would be Midway's NFL Blitz series (in which piledrivers and suplexes are the standard tackling techniques) until they lost the license to EA.
    • EA Sports' cancelled NBA Elite '11 is one glaring exception. Even when you put aside the visual glitches and gaffes that break the realistic feel, the game has some very fundamental problems with the rules, including one bug that increases the score counter before an attempted shot touches the basket. (This could simply be the game revealing that it had calculated the result of the shot before the graphical representation showed it, but it still breaks immersion badly.)
    • EA's Rugby 08 has several problems (e.g. with the rules too), like scrums going to the wrong team when the ball is unplayable in the ruck, and losing penalty advantage if the ball goes into touch...and other touches, such as being unable to kick the ball away when expecting a tackle (probably a limitation of the programming but still something one should be able to do). The commentators often seem lacking in insight, despite one of them being an actual former All-black, Grant Fox.
    • Madden NFL:
      • Averted initially by John Madden himself. He refused to put his name on the game (then a protoype featuring 6-9 players on the field due to technical limitations) until game hardware advanced enough to have the correct number of players on the field per team (11).
      • Given that the game is licensed by the NFL and intended in every way to be a simulation of real-life football, it generally does a good job of avoiding this trope, at least for the football games themselves. Franchise mode, however, deviates significantly from real-life NFL rules. Listing every example would require its own page, but some particularly notable ones include: a 53-man roster limit at all times (NFL teams have a 90 man roster limit in the offseason), no practice squads (a 10 man group of players who can practice with the team but is barred from participating in the games unless called up to the active roster first)note , no customization of player or coach contracts (all contracts are back-loaded, guaranteed money is evenly spread throughout, there are no incentives, etc.), the coaching staff is generally limited to the head coach and coordinators only, etc. etc.
      • Crossing over with Artistic License – Statistics, players are typically unrealistically productive. Since Madden is meant to be played with 5-7 minute quarters (rather than 15 as in real-life), this means that gamers are running between 50-70% as many plays as a real NFL contest. Yet many expect to produce as many points or exciting moments, while somehow maintaining realistic results on a per-play basis. This is mathematically impossible. EA chooses the former, heavily slanting the game in favor of the offense.
      • Even though punters replace the backup QB as the holder on field goal/PAT attempts sometime in the mid-2000snote  in the real NFL the game still insists on having the backup QB as your holder, though you can change this in the formation subs menu. This is likely intentional, as having a QB as your holder makes those fun trick plays a lot easier to pull off.
      • While on the subject of special teams, there's no designated long snapper position in the game (though there is one on the depth chart, making this even more inexcusable), even though most teams set aside a roster spot for a player that does nothing but snap the ball on punts and field goals, showing how valuable the skill is in real life. Because of this most teams will have a player (usually a tight end) that has a rating in the 30s or worse (on a 1-100 scale) that's probably the first guy cut in franchise mode unless you really know your favorite team's roster and already know why he's there.
      • If two teams are tied for a playoff berth at the end of the season, Madden can on occasion screw up the tiebreaker rules and award the playoff berth to the wrong team. It's right a vast majority of the time, but more than one player has Rage Quit their online franchise when they got screwed this way. To a degree, this is forgivable as it is a rare scenario and the NFL rules for breaking ties are complicated, with no fewer than 12 criteria for doing so. (#2 on the Conference tiebreak side is where Madden usually screws up.) However, it isn't completely consistent between different iterations of Madden either, so you never know what will happen if your team ends the season tied with another team.
      • Madden has never implemented the Fair Catch Kick rule, which allows a team that makes a fair catch to attempt an uncontested field goal from that spot. Admittedly, it's a rarely invoked rule but it 'is' a rule.
    • EA's NCAA Football series (the college-aged sister game of Madden) mistakenly had a hard roster limit, like the NFL. While the NCAA does have limits on both the number of scholarships you can give out and the number of players you can dress for games, the actual limit is greater than the 70-player limit given by EAnote . However, the series in its modern form dates back to the PlayStation, so the limit may have been a technical restriction rather than a deliberate design decision.
  • The NES ice hockey game Blades of Steel. Apart from milder stuff like doing away with offsides and the two-line pass rule (which was in effect in the NHL when the game was on the market), it has a few hilarious rules: when a fight breaks out (due to routine contact — it was almost impossible to knock a player off the puck without starting a fight), the two players throw down their gloves and duke it out, and then whoever loses the fight is dragged off by the referee for a two-minute penalty while the clock resumes ticking and the play simply continues for the other (presumably gloveless) player where he left off. Also, starting a fight between the faceoff circles in your own zone granted the other team a penalty shot. Again, there was no real other way to play defense.
  • Pretty much all the sports games in the Super Mario Bros. franchise. One would imagine setting the equipment on fire would be illegal, but it's Mario's standard special move.
  • Just like the Captain Tsubasa case above, many non-western sports games, especially from the 80s, tended to represent England with the Union Jack flag instead of the St. George's Cross, at least in the Japanese versions. This was often corrected in the translated versions, and that practice died down in the 90s.
  • ARMS uses fictional martial arts and is heavy on the fantasy, however, it's unlikely a real sport would be so careless about weight divisions or age. Mechanica (who is a teenage girl in a robot) can fight against Spring Man despite their obvious size and weight differences.
  • A number of rally racing video games, especially prior to Colin McRae Rally and the later DiRT series, typically dispense with the rules of rallying, i.e. a navigation-based time trial on closed back roads and/or off-road settings, in favour of an off-road circuit racer in a "rally" setting. This is especially true with Sega Rally and V Rally, perhaps due to younger and/or casual audiences who may not have a grasp on what rallying is actually like. Colin McRae Rally 2.0 did however include a circuit-based "arcade" game mode, likely to appeal to a wider audience who expected a head-to-head racing mode.
    • Funny enough, the addition of rallycross events in DiRT legitimised the concept of rally cars racing head-to-head in a circuit track, though the motorsports discipline has existed years before "rally"-themed circuit racing games were a thing.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, the protagonist and Rachel are competing for a spot in the Olympic Games. In real life, men and women in the Olympics compete in different divisionsnote , so the two of them would not be vying for the same spot.

    Web Animation 
  • Issue 10 of Teen Girl Squad has a Scotsman caber-tosses Cheerleader and is disgusted that his throw only goes 23 meters. Success in the caber toss is measured by straightness, not distance. The Chaps point out their mistake in the DVD commentary.
    • In Teen Girl Squad Issue 5, Whats-Her-Face is watching Thomas skateboard. He's announced as doing a "360 Shove It to Boneless". A Boneless is an ollie (jump) move, and thus can't be linked to this way.
  • The original Homestar Runner book Where My Hat Is At? had Homestar desperately searching for his hat so he'd be allowed to play in "the Big Game". Upon finally finding it, he arrives at the game "just in time to score the winning run." Being a picture book, it's left as an exercise for the reader what this means, but when it was remade/parodied as a cartoon, the Brothers Chaps explicitly had him just run onto the field and straight into home plate... prompting the umpire to point out that this is absurd and it wasn't even the last inning, before suspending him from the league.
  • Ghoulia has one in an episode of Monster High where she challenges the Dodge Ball team. Using her calculation she drops the ball and kicks it into the ventilation system which shoots it out hitting the walls and hits all the players. Anyone familiar with the game of dodge ball knows full well that if the ball hits anything aside from another person (such as the floor or walls or if said person catches it) the ball is considered out of play and cannot be considered an out, so the ball was out of play just as she dropped the ball. But still, the show treats it as if she won.

    Web Comics 
  • Maybe not the most glaring example, but in El Goonish Shive on this page, in the field shown, home plate is inverted.
  • In one Nip and Tuck strip, Tuck is watching "WCW Wrestlemania." WrestleMania is WWE's flagship event, the WCW equivalent was Starrcade.
  • Star Impact makes no mention of weight classes or sex divisions, with lightweights like Phoebe supposedly being legally able to go up against giants like Dove. Additionally, while real-world boxing has several organizations and sanctioning bodies, only one is mentioned in-universe, the Pro Boxing League.
  • Every Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff comic involving sports lives and breathes this trope as part of its Stylistic Suck shtick.

    Western Animation 
  • In Futurama, the episode "A Leela of Her Own" (parodying the film A League of Their Own), has Leela becoming the first ever female professional Blernsball player, a game that is made out to be the future version of baseball. In the episode, it is mentioned that Leela has pitched 77.0 innings without recording a single out. In baseball, a pitcher is only credited with innings pitched if they record outs. Possibly handwaved, since it is blernsball, not baseball.
    • It's worth noting that Futurama isn't even consistent with its own rules. When blernsball is introduced in "Fear of a Bot Planet," Fry's knowledge of baseball rules and lingo make him seem like an idiot since none of it is valid for blernsball. But in "A Leela of Their Own," blernsball's rules are almost identical to baseball, and much of the terminology used comes from baseball.
  • South Park
    • While it's largely the point that hockey rules are ignored in "Stanley's Cup", there's one glaring error in the final game: no Red Wings player can wear #9. That number was retired in honour of Gordie Howe.
    • "Board Girls" has the A-plot focus on a blatantly cisgendered man suddenly identifying as a woman so he can compete in women's athletics and score easy wins due to his high testosterone level (and implied steroid consumption) making him stronger than everyone else. Almost everyone is afraid to question this as they don't want to get labelled a transphobe. In reality, trans women are expected to undergo extensive gender reassigment before they can qualify as a contestant to prevent this very scenario from happening.
  • In the W.I.T.C.H. episode "V is for Victory", the writers got certain aspects of a swim meet wrong. All Will needed to do to win the gold was to get a good time in the semifinals (she didn't have to win it), then win the finals. Her coach told that she needed to win the next two races. Furthermore, Will should be in lane 3 or 4 in the finals, as she won the semis (she was in lane 2).
  • In DC Super Hero Girls, when Diana tries out for the school's gymnastics team in "#MeetTheCheetah", she doesn't tie her waist-length hair back or remove her earrings before performing her vault. Long, untied hair and jewelry are both severe safety hazards for a gymnast because of the risk they could get tangled up or caught on the apparatus and cause a fall. Diana not having a problem with this is somewhat excusable, since she regularly engages in significantly more dangerous activities without tying her hair back, but what's not excusable is the fact that her coach and all of her teammates are there watching her perform. Not only do none of them raise any objections, but several of the other girls also have their shoulder-length hair down. In real life, this would get you disqualified.
  • In Kim Possible, there was one episode where they run a play called a flea flicker. Here's the thing: one, a flea flicker is a play where the quarterback gives the ball to the running back, who fakes like he's going to run with it, but then turns around and tosses it back to the quarterback. Ron never even attempts a pass. Two, it was on a field goal, so it would've been more appropriate to call it a fake field goal. And three, they had Ron out there with a kicker and the placeholder, which meant the fake should've been seen a mile away.
  • It's not clear how The Mighty Ducks haven't gotten reamed out by their league for having no coach, being below a minimum roster requirement, having a goalie in the role of captain, having a player wear #00, and other irregularities. But at least there Ain't No Rule against giant anthropomorphic ducks playing.
    • The goalie-captain rule is kind of relaxed, though: see Roberto Luongo, who was an honorary captain (hence why the C was on his mask rather than his jersey.
    • The rule banning #00 from use is league-specific. The NHL, for example, didn't have that rule until the late 1990s. The reason it was added to the books? The league bought a new statistic-tracking system that broke if a player's number was less than 1. Rather than fix the software they banned #00.
      • At least one version of the software used "0" as the number to track statistics not applicable to a specific player (e.g. a bench minor for Too Many Men on the Ice would track the offending player's number as 0 as the penalty is against the team, not a specific player.)
  • In an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, at the climax of a football showdown with their rivals, Perfecto Prep, it looks like Buster kicks Plucky off the team for signaling plays to Perfecto. But as he reaches the sideline, he suddenly turns around catches a quick out from Buster, catching Perfecto off-guard and scoring the winning points. (It helped that they'd scammed Perfecto with a fake playbook). In reality, on every level of organized football there is in Americanote , the play would've resulted in a five-yard Illegal Procedure penalty for Plucky being too far off the ball and for moving non-laterally when the ball was snapped.
    • The Sega Genesis game Tiny Toon Adventures: Acme All-Stars Sports Special, pretty much thrived on Rule of Funny regarding this trope. Between soccer and basketball, the characters rode the ball around, flew across the court with it in their mouths, and could even run over the other players with a car or mecha-suit. And harass and immobilize other players (yes, we're talking about Elmyra Duff)...
      • The game also allowed you to pull off special moves in the bowling minigame, including attacks that blow up the pins...
    • On the other hand, a fairly uncommon but legal trick play is having the quarterback move towards the sideline, pantomiming something wrong to the sidelines, and while he does that, the ball is snapped to the running back to start the play. As long as the QB was the only man in motion, and following the motion rules (not running towards the line of scrimmage), that's a legal play.
  • Rocket Power: One episode has Reggie and her team winning a volleyball game 15-14. In volleyball (and for that matter, tennis and badminton), you have to win by two.
  • In Johnny Test, Johnny goes skiing and is denied access to a trail due to it being "NK-13", for no kids under age 13. Trail markers do not work that way, despite the size or difficulty. Though it's unlikely they'd want 10-year-olds going on double-diamond trails, they don't regulate it.
  • The Simpsons episode "Lisa On Ice" takes a few liberties with Ice Hockey. No kids league allows checking, much less checking in the back and sending someone face first into the glass. That's illegal even in the NHL. The clock doesn't run on penalty shots, undermining the cute ending. And Bart is shown repeatedly skating past the entire defense only to stop outside the blue line for a slapshot. Technically, that's a legal play but incredibly insane. Mike Scully, the episode's writer, is actually a big hockey fan and was well aware of these facts, but he ignored them in favor of Rule of Funny and Rule of Drama.
    • The episode "The Boys of Bummer" features former baseball player Joe La Boot, who cost his team the 1943 World Series to the Yankees when he dropped an easy fly ball hit by Tommy Henrich in the ninth inning of Game Seven. Of course, the show already takes creative liberties here since La Boot is a fictional character, but in addition: The 1943 World Series ended in five games (though it was won by the Yankees), and Henrich didn't play that season due to military service.
  • In King of the Hill, Bill is Arlen High's record-holder for most touchdowns, until a kid ties him but injures himself on the play. In the next game, the opposing team lets him walk into the endzone on crutches to claim the record. Crutches are not allowed on the playing field. Then, the coach of Arlen High (who was Bill's coach and still respected him) and Hank realize that Bill never officially graduated because he left early to join the Army. So he suits up for one game to tie the record. Texas High School football has a hard age limit, regardless of academic status.
    • Truth in Television: this was a parody of a real-life incident involving University of Connecticut women's basketball star Nykesha Sales. [1]
  • In the American Dad! episode "Return of the Bling", Roger is revealed to have been a member of the 1980 US Olympic Ice Hockey team. In photos, he's shown playing against Italy. The Italian hockey team was not at the 1980 Olympics.
  • Completely averted in NFL Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core. Most likely due to the involvement of the NFL in its production.
  • The ending of the Goofy cartoon Hockey Homicide features this- as an added bonus, they use scenes from other Goofy sports cartoons, Victory Through Air Power, and even Pinocchio to add to the confusion.
  • Toot & Puddle has the characters repairing a shuttlecock using feathers from a feather duster in the episode Old and New. While the shuttlecock is not used for any official sports, it still wouldn't work: Not only would that have changed the aerodynamics of the shuttlecock (i.e., changed the weight, size, and balance), but the feathers aren't even of the same size and type, to begin with.
  • In The Harlem Globetrotters episode "Football Zeros", the Globetrotters can't bear to have a charity football game canceled because one team is absent, so they join the game, applying their basketball techniques to football.
  • While Baseball Bugs has many moments that are obviously unrealistic, the ending deserves a mention. Bugs makes the last out by throwing his glove in the air and catching the ball. Throwing your glove at the ball trying to catch it in such a manner is illegal and results in a three-base penalty. Not that it would have mattered, because, putting aside the fact that a tree was used as a bat in this case, once the ball left the field of play, it would have been declared a home run.
  • Paula Price from The Loud House is allowed to partake in sports despite having her leg in a cast and needing a crutch to walk. No sane coach or referee would allow someone to play with a cast on, much less a crutch, as it's illegal to do. Occasionally, Paula also uses her crutch in her plays, which counts as cheating.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Artistic Licence Sports


Rocky vs. Drago 30-for-30

This mock "30 for 30" takes on the ridiculous sports and politics of Rocky IV.

How well does it match the trope?

4.7 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArtisticLicenseSports

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