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

The best way to show someone's incredible lack of sports knowledge is to have them describe a sporting event by jumbling together terms and people from a bunch of different sports. Many Sitcoms use this, usually setting the man up to be humiliated by a woman, use his incorrect boasting to show that he's a Know-Nothing Know-It-All, or to make clear who the show's "manly men" are in comparison to other men and to the women. Sometimes it is a companion of the sports fan that, when having to watch a game, attempts to understand the rules and gets it totally wrong. Regardless of the scenario, it is always Played for Laughs.

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

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


This trope is for in-universe sports errors; for errors made by the writers, see Artistic License – Sports. New Rules as the Plot Demands is the version of this trope for games that only exist in the work of fiction. In a game of Calvinball, this sort of error is impossible to make, because nonsensical descriptions of the rules become the new rules. In video games, if this is the theme of an entire level, it's an Athletic Arena Level. Pac-Man Fever is this trope with video games standing in for sports. Subtrope of In-Universe Factoid Failure.



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  • In an AT&T commercial, a prospective customer uses the term "slam dunk" in response to the service being offered, prompting Milana Vayntrub's supervisor character "Lily" to brag about how great she was at basketball in high school. The joke is that she doesn't recognize that the customer is Grant Hill, an NBA superstar and college Hall of Famer.
  • Played for laughs in the Segata Sanshiro marketing campaign. In one commercial for a baseball game, Segata Sanshiro hits the ball...with his foot. In another commercial, one for a winter sports game, he goes ice-skating barefooted. Naturally, both occurrences result in victorious results. He also played goalie for a soccer team and prevented his opponents from scoring by flipping the goal ninety degrees. This, sadly, got him a red card.
  • NBC Sports Network had this ad for their coverage of the English Premier League, in which an American coach (who evidently has a background coaching basketball or American football) cluelessly mentions plans to get into the playoffs by playing hard for all four quarters. The English press corps is nice enough to correct him, at least. In a rather surprising postscript, Apple+ later turned this ad into an actual TV show: Ted Lasso.
  • This 2017 Verizon commercial has the brand spokesman interrupting a press conference by NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. and doing a bit of this.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In the American dub of Digimon Adventure, Tai Kamiya is a soccer player who apparently doesn't play much else. He was rather prone to mixed sporting metaphors, such as "Bases loaded, two outs! And we need a slam dunk!"
  • The English dub for the first Project A-ko has one of these. B-Ko is issuing her first challenge, and at the end acts out the sport she uses for the metaphor by appearing in a baseball cap and miming swinging a bat. Understandably, one would think this would be dubbed as 'World Series' for an American viewer. What do they end up using? 'It'll be our own Super Bowl'.
  • Mio in Nichijou is completely incapable of anything else. A montage shows that every time she ever tries to play an organized sport or just a game with rules, she'll do something completely contrary to the rules of the game. When trying to perform a simple high jump, she keeps jumping under the bar, into the bar, or into her best friend.
    • An earlier episode also shows Robot Girl Nano and the eight-year-old Professor who made her playing baseball while clearly having no idea how the game is played.
  • In an episode of Squid Girl, Ika plays soccer with some of Takeru's schoolmates. However, she has no idea how to play, and violates a lot of the rules, which the boys on both teams call her out on, such as using her tentacles, which totally aren't her hands, to get the soccer ball into the goal post, even though to the kids it looked like she held the ball in her hands. When she tries just using her feet, she's completely terrible to the point that the both teams collude to help her score at least one goal.
  • In Soul Eater, Maka knows almost nothing about basketball.
  • In Dragon Ball Super, Yamcha, Vados, and Whis are the only members of the main cast who actually know how to play baseball. This leads to a lot of hilarity during a baseball game.
  • Monta in Eyeshield 21 is being told that his nickname comes from the famous receiver Joe Montana (a quarterback) instead of the protagonist just misreading his real name and finding Monta appropriate since he looks like a monkey. Monta never bothered checking after he joined American Football and still claims this is where his nickname come from.
  • 'Tis Time for "Torture," Princess: Chapter 50 has the Princess playing basketball against a team headed by the Hell-Lord. One of the announcers of the match, Gilga, explains that basketball only recently began to catch on in Hellholm. The game results in things like dogpiling on the Princess, the Princess forming a square formation around herself to protect the ball, kicking the ball, and repeated failed shots. The only two people with any real knowledge of the game are the referee, Youki, who was in a basketball club in school but spent more time playing around than playing the game, and Ex, a limbless sword who lampshades each and every mistake everyone makes over the chapter.
  • Gate: The JSDF tries to teach the Rose-Order Knights sports, but they mostly don't get it. When they play ping pong, Princess Piña Co Lada hits the ball into her opponents face. When they play baseball, she thinks the object is to hit everyone around you with the bat.

    Comic Books 
  • A Spider-Man comic used this as part of Spot the Impostor involving Barack Obama, of all people. It all starts with trouble at the Presidential Inauguration — namely, two Obamas showing up, each claiming to be the real one. Spidey swings in and points out that Obama played basketball in college, leading to a Secret Service agent suggesting a three-point shootout to determine the real president. The fake Obama who is actually the Chameleon in disguise begins sweating and stammers something like "even if we did find a basketball field, where will we find an umpire at this hour?" Sadly, this means that the world's first three-point shootout between a supervillain and a U.S. president has yet to happen. Ironically, two of the three officials for a college basketball game are called umpires (the third, the crew chief, is the only referee), but even rabid fans of the sport often don't know this, unless they have officiated themselves.
  • In one issue of Archie Comics, the Riverdale team shows up to a football game, and the rival team is female. One Curb-Stomp Battle later, Archie and Reggie are moping around, depressed, when Betty and Veronica ask to be shown how to "shoot baskets with this horse hide" (a football). Reggie and Archie walk off with the girls in hand, going "When will you learn football is a man's game?!" The girls wink at each other.
  • In Lori Lovecraft, Horatio the zombie is absolutely obsessed with basketball. His girlfriend Zelda knows nothing about sport, but tries to feign interest to make him happy. Horatio generally finds this more annoying than if she ignored it all together:
    Horatio: Another missed free throw!
    Zelda: Is your team out of the World Series?
    Horatio: Playoffs! NBA playoffs.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, when Calvin is teased into playing baseball at school, he says "Suppose they make me a halfback. Can I tackle the shortstop or not?"
    • When Calvin and Hobbes aren't playing Calvinball, they'll be making a mockery of any actual sport they try, usually baseball but also football, croquet and golf. As the boy himself puts it: "Our favourite games are ones we don't understand!" And sometimes, it's deliberate.
    "If you don't want to play with old geezers, you have to make golf a contact sport!"
  • Citizen Dog: Cuddles gatecrashes Mel and Fergus’ bowling night, despite having no idea how to play it, so Fergus convinces Cuddles that bowling requires a goalkeeper stood in front of the pins.
  • In addition to the quote at the top, FoxTrot has done this a zillion times. One memorable one has Jason at a basketball game complaining that he has to "watch a bunch of eight-foot geeks kick balls through goalposts for two hours" and asks which one is the quarterback. Also, this.
  • In Peanuts, Rerun, a new recruit to Charlie Brown's baseball team, is convinced that they're playing in the finals of The Stanley Cup.
    • One strip has Lucy happily declaring, "I love playing hockey ball!"
    • Marcie is often prone to this.
      Marcie: What if I get put in the penalty box?
      Peppermint Patty: There's no penalty box in baseball... Now, please get out there...
      Marcie: [to herself] I forgot to ask if we're playing nine holes or eighteen...
  • This Get Fuzzy manages a triple.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle:
    Bethany: I don't see the fascination with throwing a ball in a hoop. Yay, touchdown, five points!
    Gym teacher Okay, there's...a lot wrong with that...
  • Played for laughs in Roger Dodger in an exchange between Roger and his nephew.
    Roger: Why give into a slump? Let's go down swinging.
    Nick: Yes. Like Michael Jordan.
    Roger: Right. That's the wrong sport, but I like your enthusiasm.
    • This is even funnier if you remember that Jordan spent the 1994 season and part of the 1995 season playing minor league baseball (not particularly well) with the Birmingham Barons.
  • Older Than Television: The Three Stooges parody the concept with shorts like "Three Little Beers" (golf) and "Three Little Pigskins" (football), with the Stooges just plain ignorant with the sport in question, usually using terms found in hunting and horse racing.
  • Played with in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: the two lead characters, who have had a blood rivalry all movie, both crash in the final race. They leap out of their cars and attempt to run to the finish line, with the crowd on the edge of their seats. The announcers then point out that their footrace is completely meaningless, as both were disqualified the moment they stepped out of their cars. Doesn't stop them.
  • A quick side scene between Those Two Guys in the stands in The Waterboy: "(Boucher's) the best tackler I've seen since Joe Montana!" "...Joe Montana was a quarterback, you idiot."
  • At the beginning of The Big Lebowski, one of the thugs takes out a bowling ball. Confused, he asks, "What's this?" The Dude snarkily replies, "Obviously, you're not a golfer."

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

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dick describes his Rogue Juror dilemma on 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    Dick: 'I'm the final batter. Juror number four. It's the bottom of the ninth inning and the count is eleven and one. Foster is in the penalty box waiting for the two-minute warning, but who's going to blow the whistle on him? Not the umpire. Me!
    Don: Don't watch a lot of baseball, do you Dick?
  • Agent Carter: The male agents are poring over some photographs from a nightclub and ask Carter if a man in the background of one of them is legendary baseball player Joe DiMaggio. Carter says she can't tell - she doesn't follow boxing. This ends up settling a wager over whether or not she knows anything about sports (though she may well have just been trolling them).
  • An episode of The Big Bang Theory revolves around Leonard nervously preparing for a football-watching party with Penny's friends and relatives; they're all rabid Nebraska Cornhusker fans, while he doesn't know the first thing about the game. Sheldon, of all people, gives him a crash course on the sport — he grew up in Texas, and knows everything about the game in spite of the fact that he hates it (and sports in general). While Leonard acquires a functional academic knowledge of the game he knows little about the actual sports fan experience, where the rules and strategy matter less than the right team winning, and gets burned out by halftime.
  • Bottom: Culture plays it for laughs and takes it up to eleven with chess. It wasn’t going to go well with Richie insisting on playing a game he admitted he didn’t know how to play…
  • A first-season episode of Burn Notice opens with Sam quizzing Michael on American Football trivia as a Drinking Game. Michael gets distracted when he spots a Czech assassin he recognizes from his spy days eyeballing him, and answers a question about the Miami Dolphins' all-time passing leader with "Barry Bonds", a baseball player.
  • Parodied, like everything else, on The Colbert Report. After Senator Obama's acceptance speech, Stephen Colbert had former football player Tiki Barber assess the speech. He replied by saying, "As someone who knows a bit about football, I can safely say that Obama hit a home run."
  • Steve Coogan apparently wrote this segment from The Day Today with no knowledge of, or enthusiasm for, football, and it shows (in the best possible way). "That... was a goal!!!"
  • Degrassi: Marco thinks the Washington Redskins are a hockey team.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Lodger", the Eleventh Doctor's Wonka nature and Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure have been thrust Up to Eleven (so to speak), with lines like:
    "Now, football's the one with the sticks, isn't it?" note 
  • In a promo for ESPN College Gameday, the main cast are shown playing cards. Lee Corso lays down his cards with a triumphant "Straight flush!"note 
    Kirk Herbstreit:: We're playing spades!
    Corso: King me!note  (The others throw their cards down in disgust)
  • 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.
  • The Friends episode that centers on rugby:
    • Joey attempts to describe what is happening to the others. He says that a scrum is "like a huddle" (in American football). It is not at all, as the scrum is an active part of gameplay involving both teams, and a football huddle is simply a team's strategizing session between plays. He also says this when no scrum is visible on the screen. Granted, the entire point of the plotline is how ignorant the American characters are of the rules of rugby, so this may have been intentional.
    • Ross's game also doesn't make much sense.
      • Emily singles out a player who doesn't wear a cup. In reality, rugby laws are very strict on protective clothing - wearing cups are not permitted. The same goes for Ross's knee pads.
      • Rugby referees generally don't wear zebra clothing.
      • The signal to half time is blown while the ball is in play. First half can only end when there is a stoppage of play.
      • The scrum is missing the halfbacks, and you can't join a scrum after it has started. Granted, that scene was entirely Played for Laughs - you also can't join a scrum head first.
    • Almost literal example in one Thanksgiving Episode when Chandler pretended that he was eager to watch the Thanksgiving game in order to avoid helping Monica with household chores. When challenged to name three players of "his team", he named Gretzky and Agassi...
  • Full House:
    • Rebecca serves as an announcer to a hockey game that Joey participates in one episode. Feeling the need to upstage her, her husband Jesse attempts to join in. Keep in mind that Jesse is not athletic in any shape or form and knows nothing about sports, so naturally he looks like a complete idiot not knowing about the penalty box or even the game clock.
    • This happens in another episode when he tries to play basketball to impress his children. When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shows up at the court, it takes the NBA legend a few minutes to realize Jesse honestly has no idea who he is. Jabbar gives Jesse a crash course in playing, but when the actual game starts, Jesse still makes mistakes like trying to run with the ball. Jabbar, who is the referee, calls him out for traveling and he doesn't know what that means.
    • Jesse is a horrible case of Characterization Marches On. Earlier seasons had him being as athletic and knowing about sports as Danny and Joey; after the fourth season, he has no athletic ability and claims to know nothing about sports at all.
  • On an episode of Gilmore Girls, Lorelai says "Nice save, Gretzky." Wrong position.
  • The IT Crowd, when the ludicrously nerdy main characters become "real men" by learning stock football phrases off the internet.
    • "Did you see that ludicrous display last night?" "The thing about Arsenal is they always try to walk it in!"
  • In the short-lived comedy series The McCarthys, about a sports-obsessed Boston family, the one son who is clueless about sports is asked the name of Miami's NBA franchise; he admits the only thing that comes to mind is the 'Miami Sound Machine'.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000:
    • The "Turkey Day" version of the episode "Night of the Blood Beast" does this intentionally in its first host segment. Mike and the bots make contradictory references as Gypsy tries to guess which sport they're talking about; when it comes back from commercial, it turns out that it was Australian Rules Football.
    • This shows up in a riff for Wild Rebels. The protagonist, Rod Tillman (played by Steve Alaimo) arrives at the club by hitch-hiking with a rotund, older gentleman wearing a ballcap.
      Tom: "Hey! It's Tommy Lasorda!"(as Rod): "Gee, thanks, Mr. Lasorda!".
      Joel (as Lasorda): "Now, remember...Just a shake for breakfast...a shake for lunch...then a sensible..."note .
      Tom: "Yeah, whatever! Thanks for the ride! Good luck with the football team or whatever it is you do!".
    • In one segment, Mike is at the plate with Servo pitching and Crow as the umpire. Crow seems to know nothing about baseball, as two pitches thrown - one that nearly hits Mike and another that does hit them are called strikes (or rather, "Hiiii-reeeeee-ah!") When Mike rushes the mound to attack Servo, Crow starts shouting, "Order in the court! Order in the court! Order in the court!"
    • Shows up again in a riff for Reptilicus, with a scene showing two policemen playing chess.
      Crow: Bingo! Yahtzee! King me! I don't really know how to play backgammon.
  • In an episode of MythBusters testing various baseball myths, one of the "myths" tested is whether or not sliding into a base is faster than running and stopping on it. The Mythbusters do not seem to understand that the point of sliding into a base is not because it's faster, it's to avoid a tag (and on plays at second and third, to avoid overrunning the base).
    • Note that sliding versus running past first base is a speed issue; you should run past unless sliding is the only way to avoid being tagged out. However, the Mythbusters were testing sliding versus running and stopping on a base.
      • This is actually a very good demonstration. Everyone (except some moronic Major Leaguers who STILL slide through first, even without threat of a tag play) knows running through a bag is faster than sliding, but when going to second or third, where overrunning is not usually desired, sliding will be faster, because if you stay up, you have to slow down in order to stop on the bag. Or at least, that's the theory they were testing.
    • They also did an episode on "corked bats", and came to the conclusion that, since a corked bat doesn't hit a ball further, those using them were endangering their career for no reason. Adulterated bats aren't used to simply swing faster and get more power; the lighter weight allows for a faster reaction time and better contact with late-breaking pitches, and doctoring a heavy bat vs. simply using a lighter one gives better reach and a better "sweet spot".
    • They also tested if it was possible to knock the cover off the ball, where they took one swing at the ball and declared that it was impossible without super strength, without taking into consideration that using the same ball over and over again might do the trick. At any rate, knocking the cover off the ball has literally been done in an MLB game.
  • Invoked in an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles. Kenzi and Deeks have to go undercover at a dog show on short notice when a retired CIA agent is murdered. The agent spent a lot of time and money to acquire a trained show dog and become familiar with how dog shows work. On the other hand, Kenzi and Deeks know almost nothing about dog shows and are told to simply let the dog do all the work. They quickly blow their cover because Doakes is incompetent as a dog handler and Kenzi does not know the proper jargon and makes a major faux pas due to not knowing the proper etiquette when discussing breeding dogs.
  • In one episode of Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, Venus de Milo is playing bowling and gets a strike. However, since she's new to American sports (and American culture in general), she incorrectly calls it terms like "goal", "hole in one", and "touchdown".
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks' knowledge of sports ranges from the excellent to the ridiculously inadequate. This is problematic, as the series has several sports episodes, usually involving recurring character Stretch Snodgrass.
    • In "Bronco Dismissed", this trope is averted, as Miss Brooks and Mr. Boynton substitute coach for the football team without any difficulty. Likewise in other episodes such as "Baseball Slide" and "The Big Game". In some episodes, however, Miss Brooks is very much in the dark...
    • In "Game At Clay City", Miss Brooks' football knowledge isn't lacking, but Mr. Boynton admits to being clueless as to most if not all sports. He even asks who's pitching for the football team.
    • In "The Grudge Match", Miss Brooks confuses the baseball term "bullpen" with "pigpen". She also mistakenly calls pitchers "chuckers". She later redeems herself, by serving as the announcer for the titular boxing match.
    • In "Stretch Is In Love Again", Miss Brooks cheers on a dead tired Stretch Snodgrass when he runs the wrong way and scores on Madison.
    • In "Two Way Stretch Snodgrass", when Mr. Conklin calls Stretch one of the most promising high school tailbacks in the country, Miss Brooks look behind Stretch to see if he had a tail.
  • Done in a Saturday Night Live sketch where the Wishmakers Foundation grants a child's desire to be a sports commentator at a professional game (football the first game, basketball the 2nd). The only football term he knows is "That'll move the chains!" and basketball, "Nothing but the bottom of the net!" This eventually gets taken to a hilarious extreme when the other commentators lets him take over to make up for complaining about the supposed disease (the kid said he had O.C.D. when asked, but this really stood for "Overwhelming Corpse Disease", in the first sketch it was A.D.D., which actually stood for "Attentive Death Disorder") and eventually begins shouting various sports terms and maneuvers all in the same sentence ending with "NOTHING BUT THE BOTTOM OF THE NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!" and then dies onscreen.
    • A 2017 SNL skit features Chance The Rapper as a New York Knicks basketball reporter who’s pressed into service as a substitute reporter for a Rangers hockey game, and finds himself utterly baffled by the latter sport.
      "As they say in hockey...'Let's do that hockey!'"
  • Parodied on Scrubs, where JD's woefully ignorant view on sports (due to Flanderization) leads to the following mixed metaphor:
    JD: Unlikely, because what's waiting for me in my room is what's known in football terms as a slam-dunk. (swings imaginary tennis racket)
    • When Elliot says that she'll be a bigger fraud than Barry Bonds, JD replies, "I love it when he wins at that game he plays."
    • In another episode, JD tosses his friend Turk's basketball down a hospital hallway only to have it popped on the security guard's hook hand. JD apologizes to Turk and comforts him with the line "Relax, they come three to a can."
    • There's one scene which opens with JD and Turk discussing sports and agreeing that with a certain player, New York could really win the title. Then Turk asks, "Which sport are we talking about here?" J.D. thinks it's tennis.
    • This exchange that occurs when Arnold Palmer is brought up:
      JD: Incidentally, has anyone ever done less to become famous? I mean, "Yay for me, I mixed two drinks together!"
      Dr. Cox: Arnold Palmer is a golfer.
      JD: I'm sure he has lots of hobbies, Perry, the man's a drink mogul.
    • An invoked example of this trope is the time J.D. wore the delightfully ironic T-shirt that had a picture of a football with the caption "Soccer" underneath.
    • There's a scene in "My Cake", where Cox and JD's brother try to cheer JD up by watching a sporting event with him. They wear Detroit Red Wings attire as they watch a college football game...between two professional teams.
  • Stargate Atlantis has O'Neill using a sports metaphor on Weir at one point, leading to this exchange:
    Weir: I'm sorry, I don't know much about football.
    O'Neill: Nor hockey, apparently.
  • From Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
    • In one episode, John and Sarah are watching a chess game. When Sarah asks him to "explain what she's seeing", John replies that one of the players has just captured the other's queen, causing Sarah to demand "English, please!" Apparently, basic chess rules are far too technical for the average woman Sarah Connor.
    • Also, while the move might have had the bonus of putting the opponent in zugzwang, taking the Queen in itself is most certainly not zugzwang. (For those not fluent in chess jargon or German, zugzwang is when every move is worse than not moving, and you aren't allowed to pass.)
  • Deliberately invoked in That '70s Show when Eric says the first time he strapped on a pair of skates was like "the first time Joe Namath laid his hands on a bat".
  • Parodied in sketch show That Mitchell and Webb Look, which features two completely incompetent film writers. The film, nominally about cricket, ends with an amateur team from Yorkshire ("Cricket? In Yorkshire?") making the final of the Ashes against a cheating German team (for those who don't know, The Ashes is a series of five matches between England and Australia. There is no 'final', it's just a best-of-five scenario).
    • Yugoslavia and the West Indies also couldn't compete, and the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits would have to join the England side to play.
    • There's also the assertion that, "There's no such thing as a draw in cricket!"
    • Let alone the lack of uniforms (mismatched casual clothing instead) and female members of the team.
    • Manchester United plays football, and the Dallas Cowboys play American football. Besides, the European Championship is played by national teams only, so Manchester United couldn't compete.
    • The players practice with Swingball toys, and swing the bats like swords or baseball bats. The German bowler windmills overhand, then stops and throws the ball underhanded.
    • The East Germans were famous cheaters, not the West Germans.
    • The umpire is obviously a football ref, and at one point the German bowler throws a football.
    • All the players have cricket bats, even the fielders and bowler.
  • Played for laughs in Top Gear, with Jeremy Clarkson talking at one point about "golf bats".
  • World's Dumbest...:
    • During an episode of "Thrillseekers" in which a snowmobile racer landed his 400-pound vehicle on top of another racer after a jump.
      Kevin: I don't know too much about snowmobile racing, but that should be a foul. That dude should get free throws or something.
    • One episode features a bar in Wisconsin, where the patrons are watching a pro basketball game.
      Daisy: (as one of the patrons) Touchdown!...are the Milwaukee Bucks a football team?
  • Would I Lie to You?: David talking about football:
    David: The goalkeeper's the one that owns the club, right?
  • In Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, Pink Ranger Amy is a fan of the rugby-themed Shoujo manga Love Be Ball Touchdown (Love Touch for short). Grey Ranger Tessai complains that rugby goals are called tries rather than touchdowns, and The Mentor Torin remarks that the title is an example of this trope, since the manga's heroine makes the same mistake in an early chapter.

  • Jonathan Coulton's "Kenesaw Mountain Landis" invokes this intentionally for comic effect, as well as a complete misunderstanding of the historical facts surrounding the Black Sox scandal.
  • "Weep Day" by They Might Be Giants: "pitching for the Oakland Raiders". But the lyrics are loaded with contradictions, so it's intentional.
  • The music video for George Ezra's "Blame It on Me" features rugby players engaged in what looks like a cross between a ruck and a scrum, played with an American football.
  • Invoked by Garfunkel and Oates in "Sports Go Sports".
  • Also invoked by Run–D.M.C. in "You Be Illin'" when the affected individual described in the song goes to a basketball game and yells "Touchdown" when a basket is scored.
  • Spike Jones' interpretation of Rossini's "William Tell Overture" begins with Doodles Weaver's Hurricane of Puns-laden commentary on a horse race, but somewhere near the end, starts describing a prize fight.
  • Invoked in "Kick That Soccer Ball" by US Soccer Guy; an aversion of Americans Hate Soccer, but not of Americans Don't Understand Soccer. The fact the song refers to a quarterback at one point is the least of it.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Since closed fists were/are illegal under catch as catch can rules, Alo Leilani would use karate chops instead, which for some reason people insisted were "judo licks". Judo is a largely non striking martial art.
  • The infamous maneuver popularized by Jushin Thunder Liger outside of Japan as "The rolling koppu kick"(Akira Maeda's abisegiri). Koppu is yet another largely non striking martial art. However, if they meant "koppo", it makes a little more sense, as the art's founder has been in Liger's corner, and as one of the Bujinkan martial arts jumping and rolling are important parts of its taijutsu.
  • John Morrison's offense is largely composed of capoeira moves, which Michael Cole insisted were "parkour" moves, even though parkour is a non combat martial art.
  • After Stormie Lee choked Old School Wrestling Championship's women's title holder Cheerleader Melissa, a fan asked Stormie why she didn't play by the rules. Stormie response "There are no rules in baseball!" was so left field the fans couldn't even come up with a chant.

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Evidently played straight in one sketch focusing on a match between "United" and "City", then mercilessly skewered afterward with Carrie Quinlan and Margaret Caborn-Smith as commentators on the sketch pointing out how John has no idea how football works, and has clearly just taken what little he knows from overhearing stuff in the pub.
  • After David Cameron forgot which football team he supported in a speech, The Now Show started portraying him as this:
    Cameron: I support Aston Villa. Come on you Hammers. What is the footballs?

  • One sign that Ivy from Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues is a nerd is her almost complete incomprehension of sports. When it comes up in conversation, she bluffs with what little she learned from her football-obsessed uncle.

    Video Games 
  • Portal 2 has Wheatley, the local, sentient Idiot Ball:
    "Well, no matter, because I'm still holding all the cards. And guess what? They're all full houses."
    "Ace of fours! The best hand. Unbeatable! ...I would imagine."
  • In Brain Dead 13, Moose, the Frankenstein's Monster-esque jock, talks vaguely sports related gibberish when you're fighting him.
    Moose: "Alright, squirt! Third down, bases are loaded, and we're pullin' the goalie!"
    Obscure Game Theatre: "That... didn't make any sense!"
  • Super Mario World 's "Chargin' Chuck" enemies wore American Football uniforms. While some attacked you with footballs, others would attack with baseballs. Even others resorted to non-sports activities, such as digging up large rocks with shovels, leaping through the air, or splitting into 3 copies of itself.
    • An official Nintendo of America strategy guide called the baseball-throwing Chuck a "Confused Chuck".
    • The large rocks guys might be playing lacrosse. Except for the large rocks part.
    • The game where Chargin' Chuck is finally Promoted to Playable is...Mario Golf: Super Rush. That's right, a golf game, not football. To be fair, Mario has never had an American Football game. In said game, Chargin' Chuck's special shot has him outright grab the golf ball and throw it like a football.
  • In Poker Night at the Inventory, Max's grasp of the rules and terminology of poker is shaky at best. His strategy is erratic, he sometimes believes he's playing Hearts, and will occasionally fold even when he knows he has a good hand. At one point he even asks the player if the little numbers on the cards mean anything.
  • In Fortune Street, when Birdo is selected as an opponent on Mario Baseball, she proclaims that it's time to hit the gridiron before wondering if she got it right.
  • Played for cheese in Double Dragon Neon: whenever Billy or Jimmy hits an enemy with a baseball bat, they occasionally shout totally inaccurate one-liners like "Touchdown!" or "Hole in one!"
  • Retro City Rampage plays with this in one of the first missions. You go into a hat store holding a baseball bat, greet the clerk with "How about that local sports team, eh?" and then buy a hockey mask saying that it will help improve your golf game. Specifically your slam dunk.
    Player: "Sports."
  • In Tomodachi Life, Miis with the soccer ball gift will occasionally make soccer passes...on the beach. Then again, beach soccer is a real thing.
  • The coaches of the "Wimp" archetype in Mutant League Hockey: Wimpson of the Chilly Liars, Scampi of the Shrimps, and McWhimple of the Mighty Weenies. Only found on teams rated 2/5 Skulls or lower, they're scrawny cowards who know nothing about hockey — they say their best players have a "great fastball" and compliment your free throw if you score.
  • Fallout 4: One guy you can meet in Diamond City sells scavenged baseball paraphernalia and talks about the sport. Since the game is set centuries After the End, he doesn’t actually know much of anything about it, thinking it was a gladiatorial bloodsport where the players beat each other to death with bats. You can correct him or jokingly claim it was actually even more violent (like saying that the audience would get attacked as well, hence the term “spectator sport”). Either way he decides he liked his version better.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Butterfly Soup, a School Club Story about a high school baseball team, Noelle (who was roped into it against her will) is hilariously uninformed when it comes to baseball. She doesn't realize that the runner is out when a baseman catches the ball, thinks the pitcher throws the ball to their own teammate, and at one point refers to a home run as a touchdown. Eventually, Chryssa asks if Noelle can even name a single baseball team; the player can answer the San Jose Sharksnote , the San Francisco 49ersnote , or the Oakland A'snote .

    Web Animation 

  • This happens in a couple of MS Paint Masterpieces strips, in which Mega Man and Ice Man play basketball... with a bat.
  • Done for humor in Norwegian satire webcomic Fantastic-Man, where the titular Super Hero uses a piece of wood to bat a thrown grenade back at his enemies while spouting VERY wrong baseball terminology.
  • Also done for humor in Penny Arcade, where Gabe mixes sports lingo in a desperate attempt to pretend he knows what game is going on that weekend.
    • In one strip, the guys are playing a football video game. Gabe criticizes it for not being an accurate simulation of the sport, since there's no ice.
  • Moe:
    The ball is in your court. Er, no I mean, the ball is in your half of the court. Shouldn't that be the expression? I don't think there are any sports that use more than one court.
  • In Homestuck, Dave's attempt to talk Rose out of her suicide mission devolves into a fantastic series of bungled sports metaphors; they're both aware that neither has any idea what they're talking about.
  • In one strip from PHD, Professor Rivera uses a horribly butchered metaphor to describe his conflicting feelings about a job offer from another university.
    Professor Rivera: I gotta take the puck, run with it and score a bogie.
    Tagel: I don't think we're really qualified to make sports analogies.
  • Done seriously in The Order of the Stick with Eugene Greenhilt, who has no idea what's happening in his son's soccer game. His wife points out that he's more than smart enough to understand how the game works, he just doesn't care enough to devote the ten minutes to learning the rules. And the fact that he cares so little about his son's pursuits is not lost on Roy.

    Web Video 
  • Episode 54 of Awesome Video Games mixes references to game shows at one point. Dad kicks it off when he says that his historical knowledge "has been likened to one Pat Sajak."
  • The Nostalgia Critic's review of Warriors of Virtue, where he gets so bored with that he cuts away to a Chicago Bears football game. This may be Conviction by Contradiction, but not many sports fans shout "Go! Go! Go!" when their team is on defense (the clip he cuts to clearly shows the Green Bay Packers scoring a touchdown against the Bears).
  • kyle:
    Benjils is a player and a coach and makes the worst calls! If he gets through the series he'll be a Hall-of-Famer but he isn't even up for 80 yet!
  • Vaguely Recalling JoJo: The Star Platinum team in Telence's baseball game are dressed like soccer players. The lead Star Platinum even holds a soccer ball. In fact, they do terribly against the Atum team at first. Also, one of the Star Platinum pitchers throws a soccer ball instead of a baseball.
  • Crosses over with Recognition Failure in the Third Rate Gamer's review of Battletoads: during a segment where the player must throw balls at a boss, he declares that the player character has worse aim than "Shaquille O'Neal shooting touchdowns" - accompanied by a picture of Tiger Woods.
  • During a Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas stream, Daithi De Nogla mentioned that the reason his character had a baseball bat was that he'd just come from playing a baseball game, and that he was the "swinger for the L.A. Lakers". Cue Corpsing from everyone on the stream.
    VanossGaming: There are so many things wrong with what you just said.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in Futurama by the legendary Zapp Brannigan, only with board and parlor games:
    Brannigan: If we can hit that bullseye, then the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.
    • Also:
    Brannigan: In the game of chess, you can never let your adversary see your pieces.
    • In "Fear of a Bot Planet", the rules of blernsball, the futuristic version of baseball, is already confusing to begin with. Fry attempts to keep up, but his description is basically the word "blern" said over and over, to which Leela says, "With the exception of the word 'blern', that was complete gibberish."
  • Dexter's Laboratory:
    • Dexter, being the overly stereotypical nerd he is, is quite naive when it comes to sports. One episode had him distract his dad by constantly asking inane questions in regards to a golf tournament they were watching:
    Dexter's Dad: What? What'd I miss? What just happened?
    Dexter: Looked like a popfly into the endzone.
    • When the show was Un-Canceled, the roles were reversed. One episode had Dexter's dad repeatedly mess up a golf tournament because he had a warped understanding of the rules and ignored Dexter trying to correct him. For one thing, he didn't understand what the holes were and thought you had to avoid the ball falling into them.
  • There's an episode of the Casper animated series where the Ghostly Trio decide to participate in a golf tournament and Stretch vows they will "get the highest score ever seen!". Casper, of course points out that's not how it works.
  • Done in The Penguins of Madagascar when the penguins try to play hockey against the sewer rats. King Julien is assigned as a cheerleader, and tries to demoralize the rats;
    "You probably can't even get the ball into the hoopy-thingy!"
    "It's called a puck."
    "Oh, thanks ... You probably can't even get the ball into the puck thingy!"
  • In an episode of Family Guy Peter says...
    Peter: You're like the Arnold Palmer of golf!
  • The Alvin Show: Clyde Crashcup "invents" baseball, starting with a haphazardly designed diamond. He has the ball, and Leonardo (his assistant) has the bat. Clyde's first instruction: "Pitch the bat!" Leonardo does, and knocks Clyde on his back. "Perfect."
  • In the episode "Tests" of Beware the Batman Bruce and Alfred are playing chess and Alfred moves his piece into checkmate, prompting Bruce to simply knock the King over with one of his pieces. Possibly justified: Bruce says they play chess because Alfred keeps him on his toes; he might purposefully be practicing against someone who cheats.
  • The Goofy cartoon "Hockey Homicide" ends with the announcer doing an extended example of this. The announcer happens to be Doodles Weaver, who did the Spike Jones "William Tell Overture" example listed above.
  • Looney Tunes: In the Bugs Bunny short My Bunny Lies Over The Sea, the Scotsman MacRory suggests that he and Bugs settle their dispute with a game of golf. Bugs obliges, saying, "Have it your way, mac. But doncha get a little tired runnin' dem eighteen bases?"
  • The South Park episode where Cartman tries to join NASCAR had numerous safety violations that would have ended any race, but because of Rule of Funny, just gets ignored.
  • In an episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series has Lilo and friends playing baseball against Mertle's team, and Pleakley embarrasses her with his total lack of knowledge of the game. He believes that three strikes score him a turkey (which is a score bowling) and he digs up the field in search of "the legendary baseball diamond".
  • Launchpad in DuckTales (2017) attempts to provide commentary on a golf game while having no idea how golf is played.
    *while sinking his golf cart in a water hazard* "This lake will be used for the swimming portion of the program!"
    • "Double-O-Duck in You Only Crash Twice!" sees him play Baccarat against Dumb Muscle Steelbeak. Neither of them actually knows how to play, so they just shout random phrases from other games while playing random cards.
    • Ironically, Launchpad ends up averting this in "The Rumble for Ragnarok!" as he is a huge wrestling fan. This time, it's Huey who has no idea what he is talking about. He ends up realizing the role swap midway through the episode and has a Heroic BSoD over it.

  • Private Eye has the spoof sports columnist Sally Jockstrap. A typical Jockstrap column might say how pleased she is that Michael Owen (a footballer) is playing in the Six Nations (a rugby tournament) and she hopes he scores a six (a cricketing term) against Paraguay (not one of the six nations, but at this point it hardly matters).
    • Although there is a Welsh Rugby Union player called Michael Owen, which was confusing to overhear in recent commentary.
  • In MAD's parody of The White Shadow, the coach goes on a date with a woman who tells him, "Oh, I love basketball! I just love it when the batter kicks a touchdown basket."
  • Pretty much every depiction of poker in film or TV features a line to the effect of, "I see your bet and raise you..." In real life, this is a 'string bet' and the player would be forced to only call. Potentially justified if they're only playing informally in their kitchen (since the characters are usually not experts and are really only interested in trying to one-up each other), but on the rare occasion when it takes place in an actual casino, it becomes a problem.
  • This cake.
  • These T-shirts, invoking the trope for laughs.
  • People who are critical of and/or dismissive toward sports and sports fandom often invoke this trope deliberately as a form of snarking. The term "sportsball" is a popular example.
  • The Angry DM — a blogger writing about the theory of running Tabletop RPGs as a DM, GM, or whatever they call it in whatever system you use — makes a running gag of intentionally butchering sportsball metaphors wherever possible. For example, from Page 2 of "Everyone's a Leader in Their Own Way":
    "Returning briefly to the example of hockeying: a good defensive hockeyist cannot stop at simply preventing the other team's offenders from kicking the ball into the hoop. If the defender simply tackles the offender and sends the ball flying off across the court in some random direction, he has protected his net, but he hasn't really done much for the team beyond that. Instead, the defender should try to steal the ball and pass it to one of his own offenders so that offender can now try to score a check mate."

    Real Life 
  • After the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals played to a tie in 2008, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb revealed after the game that he had no idea NFL games could end in a tie. Other players stepped up to defend McNabb's gaffe. Most notably Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who stated that probably half the league's players wouldn't know that rule. It's usually spelled out by the referee at the beginning of any overtime period, and if the refs don't, the announcers will. Also, NFL standings have a column for ties.
  • In a 2009 game between the Bengals and the Browns, broadcaster Rich Gannon debated whether the Bengals should run down the clock before kicking an overtime field goal, so as not to allow the Browns time to return a kick. His broadcast partner helpfully reminded him that NFL overtime (under then-existing rules) is sudden death. Edges into Right For The Wrong Reason, since while there would be no kickoff, the Bengals were running down the clock to prevent the Browns from being able to run a scoring drive of their own in the event the field goal was missed.
  • Shoeless Joe Jackson had the puck in the form of House Member Christopher Shays' "In 1919 the Chicago Blackhawks Scandal...", apparently referring to the "Black Sox scandal" where players of the Chicago White Sox baseball team fixed the 1919 World Series. The Chicago Blackhawks is an ice hockey team founded in 1926.
  • When Sarah Palin resigned the Alaska governorship, she described herself as a "point guard"...and then it got weird. The fact that she played as a point guard in high school and majored in sports journalism just adds to the absurdity.
    • As John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential election, Palin appeared at a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, and inexplicably stated that she was "thrilled to be here in the home state of the world champion Philadelphia Phillies!" What Palin apparently didn't understand was that baseball fans in Erie, being in the western half of Pennsylvania, prefer the Pittsburgh Pirates (or, in certain areas, the Cleveland Indians) and hate the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • More than one retired baseball umpire has admitted he had no idea how to correctly identify and call a balk on a pitcher. For reference, Here's The Other Wiki's page on balks
  • The book "The Stupidest Things Ever Said By Politicians" gives us this beauty of an analogy:
    At the end of the field is a field goal and what if the referee were to move the field goal every inning and carry the ball over the finish line.
  • Many boxing fans don't seem to realize that the referee and the timekeeper have no official relationship during a fight, and thus unfairly accuse a ref of screwing a fighter with a decision that didn't take time into account. The most infamous examples:
    • The "Long Count Fight" of 1927 where Gene Tunney retained the heavyweight title against Jack Dempsey. Many people felt Dempsey was robbed of a knockout win when he floored Tunney in the seventh round because referee Dave Barry spent five seconds ordering Dempsey to go to a neutral corner before starting the count. By the rules, however, this was exactly what Barry should have done since Dempsey didn't immediately do so (many also don't realize this was the first title fight ever to use the neutral corner rule). Some boxing fans have suggested Barry was supposed to have checked with the timekeeper and adjusted his count accordingly; however, there is nothing in the rules saying that's what he should have done.
    • The 1990 Julio César Chávez–Medrick Taylor fight when referee Richard Steele declared Chávez the winner by TKO with two seconds left in the final round. Since many observers believed Taylor was well ahead on points and would have won had the clock run out, they were appalled that Steele didn't check the clock and just let it run. But Steele's job was only to see if Chávez's last minute assault left Taylor unable to continue regardless of the time, and since Taylor didn't respond to Steele twice asking if he was okay, it was the right call. Furthermore, when interviewed by Larry Merchant immediately following the bout, Taylor was so out of it that he said Steele didn't even ask him any questions or try to see if he was okay. Also, for the entire time that Steele was giving him a standing eight-count and asking him if he was OK, Taylor never let go of the ropes which he had used to pull himself up, another sign that Taylor probably wasn't fit to continue fighting.
  • Brett Hull's goal that won the 1999 Stanley Cup for the Dallas Stars is regarded as one of the worst officiating moves in sports history on the claims that Hull was illegally in the goalie crease. Much of this is based on the Buffalo coach's accusation that the officials refused to review the goal because they didn't want to have to clear the ice and resume the game upon being proven wrong. While the goal itself is debatable, the officials have insisted they DID review the play and ruled that since Hull kicked the puck with his skate, he had possession and the goal was therefore legal.
    • When the NHL shortly thereafter announced that goals in the crease were no longer reviewable plays, everyone assumed they were covering their tracks because of the Hull goal, but the league had made that decision before the Stanley Cup Finals began.
  • ESPN did a preview of the EURO 2012. Apparently Argentina participates in the European championship, there are only 16 games instead of over 30, and Cristiano Ronaldo looks exactly like Ronaldo (de Lima, from Brazil).
  • In September 2012, Old Navy released a line of licensed NFL t-shirts, emblazoned with the date of every team's last, highest playoff win. note  They also made several glaring errors:
    • The Detroit Lions were credited with the 1957 NFC championship. Detroit was the 1957 National Football League champions. There was no National Football Conference until the 1970 merger of the National and American Football Leagues.
    • The Cleveland Browns were credited with the 1964 AFC championship... which is wrong on two levels. Not only was there no American Football Conference in 1964, but the Browns were never in the AFL. They should have been credited with the 1964 NFL championship, their last championship and the last championship for Cleveland in any sport until LeBron willed the Cavaliers to the NBA crown in 2016.
    • The New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs were tabbed as NFL Champions in 1968 and 1969. They were AFL champions and winners of the last two pre-merger Super Bowls.
    • The most egregious error was the Houston Texans being credited with the 1961 AFC championship. Neither the AFC nor the Texans existed in 1961. The Texans didn't exist until 2002; the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) were the AFL champions (they played the Dallas Texans, who became the Chiefs in 1964).
  • American sports commentators sometimes use the phrase "an old-fashioned rugby scrum" to describe a chaotic mess with players piled on top of each other, or even an outright fight. However, a rugby scrum is structured and tightly regulated. Rucks and mauls, on the other hand, are a different story.
  • Subverted in December 2015: a headline on's website reads "A-Rod Scored a Touchdown in Yankee Stadium". No, not the baseball slugger for the New York Yankees. Yankee Stadium hosts the annual Pinstripe Bowl, a college football bowl game that in 2015 was between the Duke Blue Devils and the Indiana Hoosiers. On the Indiana roster was a freshman running back named...Alex Rodriguez. Who was able to run the ball into the end zone in the 3rd quarter of the game, leading to the headline. The game's announcers did some Lampshade Hanging on his name when Rodriguez scored, imitating the home-run calls of long-time Yankees play-by-play announcer John Sterling.
  • Averted with Gretzky's own son Trevor, who has spent several seasons playing minor league baseball.
  • While calling a 2017 NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs, CBS announcer Jim Nantz joked that the score was “3-2 Kansas City, top of the first”. While the allusion was obviously to a baseball score, this would be impossible since only one team has the opportunity to score in each half-inning, and "top of the first" refers to the very first half-inning of the game; thus, one team has had no opportunity to score yet.
  • Many NASCAR announcers have made the mistake of assuming it's legal to go below the yellow or double yellow line on the last lap to make a pass.


Video Example(s):


Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation

Venus de Milo gets a strike in bowling, yet she keeps calling it by the wrong term... [From episode 10, "Meet Dr. Quease"]

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / GretzkyHasTheBall

Media sources: