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  • Baseball:
    • The rules committee instituted the Infield Fly Rule in 1895 to block a specific Game-Breaker in which an infielder would let a fly ball drop and go for the easy double play (or, should the runner choose to run, catch the fly ball and throw the runner out before he could tag up for an equally easy double play) instead of just getting the one out that would normally result.
      • This was in response to a patch for a different Game-Breaker: if a batted ball gets caught in the air, all baserunners must return to their time-of-pitch bases before the ball gets there or else they're declared out. This rule exists to prevent batters from intentionally popping the ball up way high in the air while his teammates round the bases, which would break the game.
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    • Similarly, if the catcher drops a third strike, the batter is automatically out if there is a runner on first base with less than two outs. This prevents the catcher from intentionally dropping a third strike to provide for a double play.
    • In 1908, player Germany Schaefer of the Detroit Tigers confused the opposing catcher by running backwards from second base to first, creating an opening for teammate Davy Jones to steal home plate. Major League Baseball banned backwards running the next day. (Also reported in Cracked's 5 Dumb Ways People Have Won at Sports.)
    • Another early example was when the St. Louis Browns hired little person Eddie Gaedel - who stood at 3'7" - as a batter. The resulting strike zone was ridiculously tiny (estimated at 1.7 inches high), so all he had to do was stand still, get the walk, then be subbed out for a pinch runner. The league voided his contract the very next day, claiming it made a mockery of baseball - no official rule has been written, but this is a trick that Only Works Once.
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    • In 1957, Don Hoak of the Pittsburgh Pirates fielded a ground ball and threw it away...while running from first to second base. He did this, knowing that by rule any baserunner struck by the ball is out for interference, in order to prevent a double play (two outs in one play). The interference rule was quickly amended to state that deliberate interference to break up a double play will result in both the runner and batter being called out.
    • There's a pitcher, Pat Venditte, who can pitch with both arms. Which causes problems when he's facing a switch hitter, because switch hitters hit from different sides of the plate depending on which arm the pitcher throws with and this pitcher pitches based upon which side of the plate the hitter hits from. The rules committee was forced to create a brand new rule forcing the pitcher to declare which hand he was pitching with before the batter declares which way he is hitting...an interesting case, since rather than this patch being the result of one game breaker, it's the combination of two slight advantage-gaining tactics that independently would work just fine, combining to break the game.note 
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    • As a batter, you can't strike out by hitting foul balls except if that foul ball results from a bunt. Bunts are considered strike three solely to prevent batters from wearing down the opposing pitchers (a tactic that has actually been used in the past), as bunting the ball is easier than swinging and hitting it foul.
    • In baseball, once the batting order is determined at the start of the game, it is fixed by defensive position and can only be changed by substitution. However, defensive players can swap positions at will. As a result, a common later-inning tactic is the "double switch," in which the pitcher is replaced by a pinch hitter immediately before his turn in the batting order, and a new pitcher replaces another position player later in the lineup. Then, when the team takes the field, the pitcher and pinch hitter (or another substitution) swap positions. However, in leagues with a designated hitter, this would allow the team's strongest hitter to bat more than once every nine plate appearances. As such, if a team swaps the designated hitter with another fielding position, the team forfeits the designated hitter and the pitcher must bat.
  • Cricket:
    • The England cricket team of the 1930s discovered "Bodyline"—a tactic where instead of aiming for the stumps, the bowler just pitched lots of very fast, painful balls at the batter's body, forcing him to move out of the way or deflect the ball towards nearby fielders. As a result several new rules were brought in, restricting the number of aggressive balls allowed per over and the positioning of fielders.
    • Dennis Lillee's business with an aluminium bat led to the rule: "The bat shall be made of wood".
      • This has become relevant again in 2021, as a study by Cambridge University suggested bamboo would be a better material for cricket bats than the traditional willow. However, since bamboo is not wood, the rules would have to be changed in order for bamboo bats to be legal.
    • The "underarm incident" in a 1981 one-day international — on captain's orders, Australia's bowler bowled the final ball underarm instead of overarm, to deny New Zealand even the remotest chance of hitting a six to draw the match. The International Cricket Council quickly introduced a rule outlawing underarm bowling following this. This is a particularly obvious patch, since originally, it was called "bowling" precisely because it was sent to the batsman underarm. No other form of bowling was allowed or even considered bowling at the time.
      • It has been shown that this did not technically make victory impossible. One Australian cricket commentator proved this by having a ball rolled underarm down the cricket pitch to him. He simply placed his foot in front of the ball which made it bounce up into the air then hit it for 6.
    • Any rule introduced by the International Cricket Council invariably ends up requiring a patch. The most hilarious example is the so-called "powerplays". Since the games were becoming boring during the early years of the 1990's, ICC introduced a rule restricting the number of fielders in the outfield in the 1st 15 overs ("powerplay"), encouraging more attacking batting. That eventually led to the game becoming monotonous in terms of strategy, not to mention making it boring during the rest of the innings. This was patched to allow 20 overs of powerplay, but the timing of the last 10 of those could be chosen by the fielding side, which led to nearly everyone invariably getting them done with at the earliest. This was patched again and now, the batting side was allowed to choose 5 of those overs. This was abused again, and led to another rule patch, which now restricts when these powerplays could be taken. Don't expect that you have heard the last on it.
    • A very early rule patch was introduced after an event in 1771, when one "Shock" White of Rygate went out to bat against Hambledon with a bat that was as wide as the wicket. Hambledon for some reason objected to this brilliant idea, and a four-and-a-half inch limit was promptly imposed on bat width.
    • The ICC introduced the system of bonus points in multi-nation tournaments, which offered 1 bonus point to a team winning by a great margin. Curiously enough, they also offered the bonus point to the losing side if they lost by a smaller margin. This was abused by some teams in Enemy Mine situations. When a team realized they were far ahead and couldn't lose. they would deliberately play poorly to reduce their winning margin and give away the bonus point to the losing side. This would let the losing side get ahead of a third team in the points table, making conditions more favourable to the winning side later on in the tournament. The ICC eventually patched this abuse by doing away with giving the bonus point to the losing side.
  • Numerous sports - among them soccer, ice hockey, American football and rugby - have hastily added and often infamously complex offside rules, to prevent the various Game-Breaker tactics employed that allowed the ball to be passed straight to the goal, circumventing the defence.
  • Common patch rules have been to force both teams to attempt to score rather than just stall. Football's downs system dates from the 1880s or so (look up the "block game"), pro basketball got the shot clock in 1954 after an infamously stalled game (when the Fort Wayne Pistons outlasted the Minneapolis Lakers 19-18 in a 1950 NBA game. The teams scored just four points total in the final quarter). Few such measures have been really successful in association football. In league play, making a win worth 3 points rather than 2 (a draw being worth 1), the change being made in 1981 in the (English) Football League. In knock-out tournaments, using the "Golden Goal" in extra time, where the first goal scored ends the match, had the opposite effect; it ended up encouraging defensive play to avoid conceding a match-losing goal.
  • Association Football:
    • The back-pass rule. FIFA introduced it in 1992 to keep players from passing the ball back to their goalkeeper and grabbing the ball to waste time. It was supposedly put in place because the 1990 World Cup was full of boring time-wasting.
    • In the 1982 World Cup, West Germany and Austria went into their last match of the first round knowing that a win by West Germany by one or two goals would put both teams into the next round, the other two teams in the pool having played their last match the previous day. West Germany scored after ten minutes, and the teams kicked the ball around aimlessly for the rest of the match, which drew a lot of booing and ire from the spectators. This match is known today as "The Disgrace of Gijón". FIFA changed the rules so that in future, the last matches in pool play would be played simultaneously.
      • However, the 2026 World Cup, to be played in North America, will feature a record 48 teams, with 16 groups of three teams each...making it impossible for all the teams in a group to play simultaneously. FIFA has suggested that draws may be prevented during the group stage by the use of penalty shootouts...which would introduce the possibility of a team losing a penalty shootout on purpose to eliminate a rival.
  • Ice Hockey is simple at its core: you skate around and use a stick to whack the puck into the opponent's net. Then it picked up a few more rules to keep the game flowing and interesting:
    • "Icing" refers to the practice of a defending team flinging the puck all the way down the ice and forcing the opponent to go fetch it. They patched this by blowing the whistle immediately after the opponent touches it after it crosses the far goal line, bringing the face off back to the defending team's zone. This slowed the game down a lot when a team was killing a penalty, so they re-patched it to allow shorthanded teams to ice the puck. More recent rule changes tweak it to prevent players from crashing into the boards chasing after the puck, so now you don't have to physically collect the puck for icing to be called (resulting in a rule that fans, players, and even officials aren't entirely sure of). And another recent change prevents teams from substituting players after they ice the puck — and they had to patch that immediately to delay television timeouts from occurring and giving the tired players a reprieve. (You can call a timeout, but you only have one for the whole game.)
    • The "two-line pass" rule was a previous pass that prevented teams from throwing long passes across the center red line and one of the blue lines. That rule was changed after the lockout to discourage the "neutral zone trap", which made use of trapping a player where he couldn't receive a pass. The two-line pass rule still exists, but refers to both blue lines instead.
    • How ties and overtime have been handled in the NHL has become a series of increasingly patchwork rules. Traditionally, if the game was tied at the end of regulation, it either ended in a draw or went to sudden death, where the next goal wins. The NHL followed the former format until 1983, when it instituted a 5-minute sudden death overtime period; if the game was still tied afterwards, it was recorded as a tie and each team got a point in the standings (whereas a win was worth two points and a loss was worth none). However, in the late 90s teams began to play very defensively in overtime, reasoning that it was better to play it safe and walk away with one point than gamble and risk going home with none. This led to an increase in the number of ties and, concordantly, in fan dissatisfaction. The NHL attempted a rules patch by making overtime 4-on-4 and guaranteeing the extra point to both teams that made overtime (effectively meaning that a team that won in overtime would get an extra point). The intended patch was only marginally successful; while overtime scoring increased, teams now just played defensively in the minutes leading up to overtime instead, so that they'd guarantee themselves at least one point. The NHL changed the rules again in 2004, eliminating ties and introducing a shootout at the end of overtime; bizarrely, the rule that gives teams an automatic point for reaching overtime remains, even though its justification has now been nixed from the game. Beginning in the 2015-16 season, overtime is now 3-on-3.
    • Hockey fans began taking an increasingly dim view of dangerous hits to the head in the mid-to-late-2000s after several prominent players had their careers derailed or ended by concussions and prominent research began to highlight the long-term dangers of repeated blows to the head. The NHL seemed content to wait for things to blow over...until the league's marquee player, Sidney Crosby, was hit with a devastating - but, at the time, completely legal - hit to the head that knocked him out of the game for almost a year and a half. Unsurprisingly, the following season saw the rules around hits to the head and concussions tightened considerably.
    • In the 2011-12 season, the Los Angeles Kings, an eighth seed, won the Stanley Cup. Two seasons later, the season after another lockout, the NHL redid the playoff format to prevent this from happening again. Ironically, the Kings won the Stanley Cup again the same season the new playoff format was implemented.
    • Ice hockey has a number of rule patches that can be traced to a specific instance or player:
      • The "Martin Brodeur rule" draws a trapezoid behind the net and prevents goaltenders from handling the puck outside it in the corners. It's named for goaltender Martin Brodeur, who was a very good puckhandler and used that skill to perpetuate the New Jersey Devils' Boring, but Practical "neutral zone trap".
      • The "Sean Avery rule" prevents a player from turning and facing the goalie and deliberately obscuring his vision. It's named for Sean Avery, who did this to the above-mentioned Brodeur for an entire power play, just waving his stick in his face. Observers were so outraged that the rule was implemented mere hours after the game ended.
      • The "Clint Benedict rule" is very old and rarely referred to as such anymore; way back in the 1920s, goalies couldn't drop to their knees to make a save. Goaltender Clint Benedict just ignored it, either driving the officials nuts with the whistles, or claiming he slipped or was knocked down, or pretending he was just praying; the league eventually gave up and let goalies drop to their knees. This is now the "butterfly" style, the predominant goaltending technique in hockey today.
      • The "Jean Béliveau rule" states that if a team scores on a two-minute power play, the penalized player is allowed to leave and the power play ends. It's named after Jean Béliveau, Montreal Canadiens superstar who (along with his teammates) would routinely victimize opponents who took penalties by scoring two or three goals in the same power play. The five-minute major penalty (for only the most egregious of fouls) still allows teams to score at will while the full five minutes are served.
      • The "Marty McSorley rule" states that if two teams take simultaneous penalties for the same offense (usually fighting), they must play with the full complement of five skaters aside. It's named after Marty McSorley, the enforcer of Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers, who would start fights to protect star players (or, depending on whom you ask, just because). This led to five minutes of four-on-four hockey, and a talented team like the Oilers was very dangerous with the open ice. (They also added the "instigator" rule to prevent teams from starting fights on purpose, although it's inconsistently enforced).
      • The "Bill Durnan rule" prevents goaltenders from being captains or alternate captains, or at least from being allowed to argue calls like captains are. For a skater, this just means wandering out to center ice. For a goalie, this means wandering out to center ice and forcing everybody to wait until you get back to the net for play to re-start. This was essentially an extra timeout.
      • The "Ilya Kovalchuk rule" refers to the NHL's byzantine salary structure (that occasionally leads to lockouts and cancelled seasons or portions thereof). The league had instated a salary cap, a hard upper limit on what teams could spend on players (necessary to prevent very rich teams in the Northeast from outspending everyone else). To prevent teams from changing the exact salary every year to fit their salary needs, the spending limit is determined based on the average annual value of the contract. Teams found a loophole and started paying players obscene amounts early in the contract, and pittances late in the contract (when the player is in his forties and likely retired). Ilya Kovalchuk got such a deal. He "retired" and then immediately signed a contract to play in his native Russia, getting his NHL team out of its salary cap hell (although he was by no means the only player with such a deal). The league patched that at the next lockout by limiting the length of contract terms and the variations in salary in different years of the deal.
      • The "Robert Luongo rule" also has to do with bad contracts. Luongo's deal was such a burden that his team tried to trade him (only for most teams to balk at what they had to pay him). The rule anticipated his retirement midway through the deal and states that in that scenario, the team who signed the player — and not the team he was traded to — is responsible for the rest of his deal.
      • The "Wade Redden rule" refers to a player who so underperformed on his obscene deal that his team tried to reassign him to a minor league and bury his contract there. The rule prevents teams from doing this with certain players.
      • The "Rob Ray rule" requires players' jerseys to be tied to a player's pants to prevent them from coming off easily during a fight. In the '80s and '90s, pugilists frequently wore baggy jerseys that would come off easily and in a fight and give their opponents nothing to grab on to. Sabres enforcer Rob Ray, while not the first to (ab)use the technique, is probably its most famous adherent simply because of the fact he turned it Up to Eleven.
  • Lacrosse:
    • To prevent defenses from slowing fast offenses down by fouling them, the "play-on" and "slow whistle" techniques were allowed. Both allow officials to call a foul without stopping play. The former is reserved for line-violation and loose-ball technical fouls. The official calling it can, within a few seconds, call it off if the foul has not resulted in a gain of advantage/possession for the fouling team or its loss for the fouled team. A slow whistle is similar to a delayed penalty call in hockey except that the penalty must be served even if a goal is scored.
    • In the past, releasable penalties were releasable if either a goal was scored, or the penalized team got the ball back into its opponent's goal area. Today only a goal will release the penalized player. Dominant teams often found their players serving mere seconds on penalties that were supposed to last at least a minute.
    • In the 1990s, as lacrosse in the U.S. began spreading further south and being played on artificial turf, rules that made sense for a game likely to be played on muddy fields in colder spring weather started to look like handicaps. In particular, at the time, lacrosse had no time limits on moving the ball other than the goalie having three seconds to get the ball out of the crease. So, teams with narrow leads could stall their way to wins by taking forever to get the ball out of their own half, and then just pass it around the outside of the box down near their opponent's goal. So nowadays, teams have 20 seconds to get the ball out of their own half, 10 seconds to get into their opponent's box once they do, and are required to attack the goal and look for scoring opportunities. In the last four minutes of games where four goals or less separate the teams (or any time the officials think they're stalling), they are required, once they have gotten into the opposing goal box, to keep it in there (unless a deflected shot goes out of it), otherwise the officials stop play and give the other team the ballnote .
    • Defensive players may enter the goal crease at any time. Some college teams began abusing this rule to have one, or even two, defensemen step in next to the goalie to make an almost impenetrable barrier. The rule was changed to assess a 30-second conduct foul against any defenseman who enters the crease to block shots or act as a goalie. When this was added to the high school rulebook in 2017, it was applied to defensemen who did this even if the goalie had left the crease (a previously common practice in that situation), the justification being that several players have died of commotio cordis from hits to their unprotected chestsnote 
  • Auto racing has a long history of these, almost from since the car was invented:
    • It should be noted that a lot of obvious rules patches are put in simply to increase driver safety in a sport where it once held very true that Anyone Can Die. Since safety equipment adds weight and bulk cars very often had little driver protection until the 1970s. A few obvious fixes included actually having roll hoops that reached above the driver's head, mandating seatbelts, putting padding and liners in the fuel tanks, fire extinguishers and electrical circuit breakers, and putting the driver's feet behind the line of the front wheels.
    • The Formula One rulebook includes a few basics like the driver must be in the car and driving it, the car can't be the same width of the track, and then proceeds to specify almost every parameter of dimensions and engine specs to the nearest millimeter.
      • Moreover, whenever a team makes a technological discovery which gives their cars even the slightest advantage over the other teams (and which has not yet been declared forbidden by the rules), a patch is rushed into the rulebook to forbid it, usually enacted by the next race.
      • See the Brabham BT46B 'fan car', or the 6-wheeled Tyrrell P34.
    • During the 1960s, turbine-powered cars came onto the field and handed everyone else their asses on a silver platter. Needless to say, spurious safety complaints and absurd intake valve regulations forced them off the streets and away from the tracks.
    • Many of NASCAR's rules patches are used for safety purposes. Their two biggest examples are restrictor plates to slow the cars down at Daytona and Talladega, and mandated head and neck restraints for all drivers after the lack of such a device was a contributing factor to the death of Dale Earnhardt. It should be noted that Earnhardt refused to wear the HANS device.
    • A couple NASCAR rules are patches in case a driver commits what under the letter of the law is a penalty but not the spirit of it. For example, pit road speed limits are strictly enforced. However, if a driver is going too fast on pit road because they're avoiding an accident and they make an "honest effort" to slow down, the penalty does not apply. Similarly, passing another car below the yellow caution line is not permitted in most circumstances. However, if the driver was either forced below the yellow line by a car in front of him or taking action to avoid an accident, and the driver also gets back above the yellow line in a reasonable amount of time, the pass is permitted.
    • The Chaparral 2J forced the legendarily-free Can-Am racing series to implement a rule explicitly stating that every car can have only one engine aboard.
    • In 2012, the rules were changed to lower the height of the nose of the cars, to prevent it from striking a driver in the result of a T-bone collision. They didn't change any of the rules about the bodywork in that area apart from the nose height though, which resulted in most teams simply adding an obvious and inelegant step down to nose.
    • A notable aversion with the 2009 double diffuser incident. A few teams found a loophole which helped them to massively increase the efficiency of their diffuser, greatly increasing their down-force and gaining them as much as half a second a lap in a sport where a tenth of a second is considered a massive chasm. Other teams objected but the FIA ruled the double diffuser legal (though they did end up banning it in 2012 to reduce speed and increase safety).
    • Formula 1 once also made an Obvious Rule Patch to restrict cars that were too slow - the "107% Rule", introduced in 1996, means that anyone who can't come within 107% of the pole-sitter's time automatically fails to qualify. While there was a massive influx of terrible teams and drivers in the decade prior to the rule's introduction, the arrival of Forti in 1995 (who only made the 107% time once that season) is considered to be the straw that broke the camel's back.
      • The 107% rule was actually removed once the grid became smaller and closer together... then in 2010 three new teamsnote  joined the sport, and were so far behind everyone else that the FIA reinstated it the following year. Since then only five drivers have failed to make the 107% timenote , all of whom were driving for one of those three teams.
    • The 24 Hours of Le Mans has several of these, most notably the banning of the traditional Le Mans start, (used until 1969) where everyone runs to their cars and starts them instead of starting in their cars, because drivers would simply set off without putting on their safety harnesses, with inevitable results. Others include a ban on single-piece bodies (after a driver was killed when his came apart) and the addition of two chicanes to the Mulsanne straight to try to bring speeds down.
    • Le Mans instituted a minimum final lap time to stop anybody with a broken car parking up in the pits and then hobbling round the last lap to 'finish' the race. Drivers also have maximum stint times and must all set lap times in qualifying - to stop teams leaning too much on their fastest drivers or one driver becoming dangerously fatigued (as happened to the ill-fated Pierre Levegh in 1952 when he tried to finish the race on his own before the rules were implemented). Especially important in GT amateur class entries where the owner is often one of the drivers so could otherwise hire a two pros, do as few laps as possible and claim a 'win'. There is also strictly defined rule that states if the driver cannot leave the vicinity of their car if stopped on track, preventing them finding outside assistance, and also that the team can only work on the car in the garage, stopping them loading the mechanics into a van and driving off to fix a stranded car. In the 2000s some teams created quick change plug-in segments for their cars (to replace a whole gearbox and rear suspension for example) so the rules were again tightened specifying which parts could not be changed.
    • Indy Car got an obvious rules patch saying that anyone who placed pit equipment or personnel in such a way as to impede other racers entering or exiting the pits would be punished after the 2013 race at Sonoma Raceway. What happened was Scott Dixon hit the tire that Will Power's right rear tire changer was holding, sending him flying into the left rear tire changer and Dixon's team accused the crewmember of purposefully walking into Dixon's car, and he (Dixon) was the only one punished, with a drive through penalty that may have cost him the race.
    • In Formula One, each team is assigned sets of tyre compounds in each race:
      • First of all, all four tyres must be of the same compound. This is important because the different tyre compounds have different levels of grip and wear, and can cause a mess if any of the tyres is mismatched. If any of the tyres is mismatched, the team needs to change the tyres again in up to 3 laps, or they'd get penalized. This worked correctly, and was applied in the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix (then-Williams driver Valtteri Bottas was given three soft tyres and one medium tyre, and suffered a drive-through penalty as it wasn't corrected in due time).
      • At the same time, the sets of tyres are assigned to specific drivers, so that, even if the tyres are of the same compound, one driver cannot use a set of tyres assigned to their teammate. A mishap in a pit stop for Mercedes in the 2020 Sahkir Grand Prix ended up with George Russell getting Valtteri Bottas's tyres, forcing him to enter the pit lane again in the next lap to correct the mistake. This left the stewards in a blank, as there was no rule as to whether a team could be given a window of time to give a driver their assigned tyres back (unlike the aforementioned "same compound" rule) and the rule could threaten a disqualification for Mercedes in the race. In the end, given they corrected the mistake as quickly as possible, they merely fined Mercedes, and adjusted the rules so that the same conditions as the "same compound" rule apply (up to 3 laps to change tyres, or a drive-through penalty is applied).
  • In the National Football League, a committee meets every year to implement new Obvious Rule Patches to react to the previous year. Over the years, the game has accreted a whole section to patch specific actions of individual players.
    • The infamous "Snowplow Game", a scoreless defensive battle between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots on a frozen field in 1982. A few minutes before the end of the game, Patriots coach Ron Meyer called a timeout so that a snowplow could clear a patch on the field for the field goal kicker, resulting in a 3-0 victory. Dolphins coach Don Shula was a longtime member of the NFL Rules Committee, and there was a new rule in place for the next season banning the use of snowplows during games.
    • In the '70s, the NFL had to make new pass interference rules, dubbed the Mel Blount Rule, to stop defensive backs, most notably Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Mel Blount, from mugging opposing receivers five yards past the line of scrimmage.
    • Speaking of pass interference, the way that a penalty is assessed for defensive pass interference is also a case of this, although whether it was in response to an actual case of Loophole Abuse or whether the rule makers simply anticipated and patched a possible loophole in advance is not clear. If a defensive player commits pass interference, the offense gets a first down at the spot where the interference occurred (if the penalty occurs in the end zone, it's placed on the one-yard line), because if it was a set number of yards, the defense might decide it was worth, for instance, a 15-yard penalty (the penalty for this foul in many other leagues) to prevent a reception that would pick up significantly more than 15 yards. By placing the ball at the spot of the foul, the NFL removes any such incentive.
    • In 1977, the NFL implemented the Tom Dempsey Rule, requiring that players who are missing limbs must wear prosthetics that replicate the natural shape of the missing body part. This was because Tom Dempsey had no toes on his right foot and wore a custom shoe that essentially turned his kicking leg into a hammer, giving him the ability to kick with distance and accuracy that no other kicker in the league to replicatenote . Dempsey retired soon after the rule's implementation.
    • The "Salata Rule", introduced in 1979, prevents the penultimate team in the draft from passing in an attempt to get the final pick. Introduced after the Los Angeles Rams, interested in the extra publicity that choosing "Mr. Irrelevant" would bring, passed on their pick so the Pittsburgh Steelers would inherit their place and choose first. The Steelers, also interested in the extra publicity that choosing "Mr. Irrelevant" would bring, subsequently did the same. This continued until the NFL commissioner forced them to make their picks in their original spots, and turned it into an official rule shortly afterwards.
    • As a result of the 2003-04 AFC Championship Game, in which the Patriots shut down the Indianapolis Colts' offense, then-Colts general manager and Competition Committee member Bill Polian lobbied the NFL to strictly enforce the various holding, illegal contact, and pass interference rules the following season. As a result, the NFL became the passing league that it is currently. The rule was re-emphasized again in 2014, due the Seahawks' vaunted "Legion of Boom" secondary getting away with a couple of holding calls, and after they also defeated Peyton Manning's Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII.
    • The NFL banned certain types of hits to reduce the amount of injuries to players:
      • Deacon Jones Rule: The head slap (former Rams defensive lineman Deacon Jones's favorite maneuver) was made illegal.
      • Roy Williams Rule: The horse-collar tackle was banned.
      • Carson Palmer Rule: Defenders can't hit the passer's knees or lower legs unless it's coming off a block. The Palmer Rule was later revised in 2009, which stated that defenders on the ground can't lunge or dive at the passer's knees/lower legs (The Tom Brady Rule).
      • Hines Ward Rule: Blocking rules were implemented to keep players from injuring people with blindside blocks to the upper chest/head area after Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward racked up an impressive body count doing this, including knocking Ravens safety Ed Reed out cold and breaking the jaw of Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers in the seventh game of the season.
    • After Steelers running back Jerome Bettis botched a coin toss call in the 1998 Thanksgiving game against the Lions (which resulted in the Steelers losing that game in overtime), the NFL passed the Jerome Bettis Rule the following week, in which the visiting team has to make the call before the coin is flipped.
    • The NFL modified the overtime rules, starting in the 2010 postseason, and expanded into the regular season since the 2012-13 season, after Peyton Manning's Colts and Brett Favre's Vikings lost key playoff games in their respective seasons in overtime without touching the ball (the Chargers in the 2008-09 Wild Card, the Saints in the 2009-10 NFC Championship). The new rule states that during overtime, if the first team kicks a field goal at the end of their initial drive, the other team gets the ball, and from then on, sudden death starts (of course barring a field goal from the team, in which the game would keep going). The only exception is if the first team scores a touchdown or gives up a safety, then the game instantly ends. Ironically, the Vikings, who had lost said game to the Saints, were one of the four teams that voted against the rule change.
    • During the Patriots' 2015-16 Divisional Round game against the Baltimore Ravens, New England ran three plays where an offensive player would declare as ineligible (which the referees would then announce) and another eligible receiver would line up in the left tackle's position. At the snap, the Ravens covered the ineligible player, thinking him eligible, while the "left tackle" was wide open for a completion. Ravens coach John Harbaugh was furious with the refs during the game, and for several days afterwards. The NFL found that the plays were legal, but changed the rule in the following offseason: An offensive player with an eligible receiver's jersey number (1-49 or 80-89) who reports as ineligible can no longer line up outside of the tackle box.
    • The downs system was one of these. In the original football rules, the ball only changed teams when someone scored, on interceptions, or at the end of a half. This discouraged attempting to score (since a fumble meant the other team could theoretically have the ball for the rest of the game), and finally lead to a game where one team simply ran around their side of the field for the entire half, followed by the other team doing the same in the next half. Amidst the public outcry, a fan identified simply as "an Englishman" wrote to the commissioner, suggesting that teams only possess the ball for four scrimmages. The commissioner, not wanting a situation where a team had the ball yanked away right at the opposing goal line, adjusted it to give a team three "downs" and reset a team's downs if they could get at least five yards before they ran out (later adjusted to four downs and ten yards).
    • During the 2012 Thanksgiving game between the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions, Texans running back Justin Forsett got up after being tackled and continued to run for a touchdown. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz threw a challenge flag during the play, as replays showed that Forsett's knee had touched the ground. Unfortunately for the Lions, it is a penalty to challenge plays that are automatically reviewed, including all scoring plays. Throwing the flag resulted in a penalty that cancelled the review and gifted the Texans a touchdown. The Lions, who were leading 24-14 before the play, ended up losing the game in overtime. After the season the rules committee changed the rule (the "Jim Schwartz rule") so that the penalty would no longer cancel the automatic review.
    • For the 2017-18 season, the NFL passed a rule which prohibits defenders from leaping or hurdling over offensive linemen during a field goal or extra point (PAT) attempt, in response to several teams (notably the Seahawks, Patriots, and Broncos) successfully using this tactic during regular season games. NCAA football also adopted this rule as well.
    • The "Minneapolis Miracle" occurred in the NFC Divisional Round of 2017-18 when the Minnesota Vikings, down 24-23, scored a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints with no time remaining on the clock, putting the Vikings ahead 29-24. It took ten minutes for the game to actually end after the touchdown was scored, as the rules stated that an extra-point attempt had to be made, even though no result of the attempt would have changed the outcome. A few Saints players wandered back onto the field after being told that the game wasn't over yet, and the Vikings had to clear the field of debris and fans, after which the Vikings quarterback just immediately knelt down anyways. The rule was changed the following season so that, if a team scores a go-ahead touchdown with no time left on the clock, the game immediately ends. note 
    • With the 2002 establishment of the Houston Texans, the NFL had 32 teams, so they realigned to 4 divisions per conference each containing 4 teams and developed a scheduling formula so that each team played every other team at every stadium within a 8-year span, and road/home games set on an alphabetical pairing, e.g. teams scheduled to play the NFC North (Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings) would travel to Chicago and Detroit and host Green Bay and Minnesota or vice-versa. This became problematic in the 2008-09 season, when the AFC East (Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets) was scheduled to play both the AFC West (Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raidersnote , San Diego Chargersnote ) and NFC West (Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Ramsnote , San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks), with the Patriots and Jets scheduled to travel to Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle all in the same season. Starting in the 2010-11 season, the scheduling formula was amended so that teams scheduled to play the AFC West and/or NFC West would only play 1 West Coast team and 1 team closer to the Midwest for their road games, e.g. teams traveling to Oaklandnote  would also travel to Denver, and teams traveling to Seattle would also travel to St. Louisnote .
    • On the technical side of things, there's the 1960 "Green Bay Rule", which essentially states that only for-profit entities can own NFL franchises. The eponymous franchise, the Green Bay Packers, gets an exception due to having existed in this format prior to the rule's introduction (the Packers have been a publicly-owned, not-for-profit franchise since the 1920s), but Pete Rozelle, the NFL commissioner at the time, clearly wanted to make sure that other teams didn't get it in their heads to follow the Packers' example. (The reason he was opposed to this concept is not entirely clear.)
  • Cracked's 5 Dumb Ways People Have Won at Sports mentions a 1978 game where the Oakland Raiders abused the fumble rule to bounce-pass the football over and over all the way to the end zone, in an infamous play later called the "Holy Roller". Because the play took advantage of the fact that the officials couldn't determine whether the fumble was intentional or notnote , the NFL added restrictions to advancing fumbles in the last two minutes of a half, or on fourth down at any time in the game.
  • The IOC's Eddie "The Eagle" rule. After Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards qualified for the ski jump events in the 1988 Winter Olympics despite never having competed in any kind of international competition whatsoever due to quirks in the rules, the Olympic committee made certain requirements as to what athletes had to have accomplished before competing, to prevent similarly embarassingly unskilled competitors from appearing.
  • Roller derby's WFTDA rules, being less than ten years old, are constantly coming out with new rule sets featuring these. One example: roller derby is played in a racing-style ring, and it's a penalty to cut the track then re-enter play in front of other players. A common strategy used to be hitting opponents at the curve, forcing them to cut the corner before they could stop. A patched rule made it so you could avoid the penalty by simply falling over before skidding back into the track.
  • Hurling changed its penalty rules in 2015, in response to Anthony Nash pioneering a new method where he would scoop the ball several metres forward before striking it, virtually guaranteeing a goal.
  • Basketball:
    • Early hoops lacked backboards. Backboards were created to not only make the shots a little easier, but to prevent fans on the balcony where the hoop was attached from interfering with the game by deflecting or guiding shots into the hoop. Plus, the boards were initially made from chicken wire, which caused the ball to stop dead in its tracks and fall into the hoop.
    • A jump ball was once called after every shot as opposed to the beginning of each quarter, which killed the pacing considerably and bored the fans.
    • Whenever the ball went out of bounds, it was thrown into field and the first to gain possession got a free throw. This led to both teams madly rushing after the ball — even into the crowd.
    • The shot clock was introduced to counter the four-corners offense, where the team with the lead would position four players at the corners of the offensive half-court and one at the center, then just pass the ball around ad infinitum to maintain possession and eat up the game clock. This made for a slow, low-scoring game that bored the spectators.
    • Whenever an offensive player was surrounded by defensive players and couldn't pass, he would simply toss the ball higher than his head, thus "passing it to himself" and avoiding getting fouled for traveling. (Basketball creator James Naismith stated that passing was the only legal way of advancing the ball, and the original design of the ball was hard to bounce.) This was seen as ridiculous-looking, however, and would soon pave the way for dribbling that would serve the same purpose.
    • One particular player, Rasheed Wallace, had two rules made in his "honor": one which stated that any player who got 16 technical fouls in a single season would be fined and suspended for one game, and another which prohibited "demonstrative displays" in response to referee calls.
    • The off-the-ball-foul rule, which was created to prevent the opposing team from chasing around the worst free throw shooter on the team with possession of the ball. One such poor shooter happened to be Wilt Chamberlain.
    • Beginning in the 2016-17 season; the NBA introduced new rules stating that any "away from the ball" foul committed in the last two minutes of a period or overtime would not only result in the fouled team not only having a free-throw opportunity but would allow them to retain possession; an attempt to curtail intentional fouls committed against a team's worst free-throw shooter (most famously being known as the Hack-a-Shaq strategy in which opposing teams targeted Hall-of-Fame center Shaquille O'Neal, knowing that Shaq was a poor free-throw shooternote ).
  • Game Show Network's Extreme Dodgeball had a rule amendment only minutes after the exploit occurred. A rule to prevent delay of game would cause a team to automatically lose a player if they had both balls on their side of the court for a given (brief) length of time. David Benedetto placed both balls on edge of the opposing team's side. Thus, the players had to move forward to retrieve the balls, at which point Benedetto could easily pick up a ball without crossing the line and nail them. An all-purpose patch named the "Benedetto Amendment" was placed to prevent any players abusing delay-of-game rules to their own benefit.
  • Olympic Fencing descends from duels fought with smallswords, rapiers, and sabers. While sabers have a cutting edge (they were used from horseback as late as the American Civil War), smallswords and rapiers are both pure thrusting weapons which are almost never used to slash and only really have sharpened edges to make Barehanded Blade Block attempts impractical. Traditionally, touches are delivered by a clean thrust which depresses a button on the weapon's tip, causing a circuit to complete and a scoring light to flare. Due to the exceptional flexibility of fencing swords, sportsmen learned to "flick," or snap the weapon in a manner which caused the blade to bend around an opponent's guard and touch with the tip. The flick looks nothing like a traditional sword technique. Flicks became so dominant, especially in foil, that many fencers started calling it a "flick-fest". The sport's governing body, the FIE, patched timing rules on how long the button has to be depressed before it counts to make flicks much less viable. Most fencers consider this a good thing. Saber fencers still have a whip-over, where an electrified saber's long blade can bend and touch an opponent. Since sabers are electrified over the whole length, this means an attack which would not cut with an actual saber can still establish contact with the opponent and score a point in competition. Sabreurs are divided over whether whip-overs improve the game or not and referees have a hard time making calls on them. Was it a whip-over, an unsuccessful parry, or a remise? Good luck calling that action when it takes place in a fraction of a second. In 2000, new regulations made sabre blades much stiffer to reduce this, but it can still happen. Nowadays the FIE seems to be moving towards "if the circuit was completed, it counts".
    • In saber, the cross-forward move (in which the back foot crosses in front of the front one) is banned. It is permissible in both other weapons, and was banned in saber to prevent the fencers always flèching at each other.
    • The ban on exposing the back of the head is due to a cheat two épeéists came up with, in which they turned their back and their opponent, grazing their own leg on the way (which registers as a touch scored). Nobody is quite sure why the rule patch also applies to foil and sabre, since the legs are only valid target areas in épeé.
    • Then there are things like this, which read like obvious rule patches — and are rife for speculation about what the hell must have happened to get the rule put in place:
      • t.21.5: "If during a bout a fencer who has made a flèchenote  attack has a touch registered against him and he continues to run beyond the extreme limit of the strip sufficiently far to cause his reel or the connecting line to his reel to be torn out, the touch which he has received will not be annulled."
      • Actually, if you think about this, it becomes obvious that what happened was that someone made a flèche, got hit, ran so far that the reel was torn out, and then claimed equipment failure.
  • The two-rock, three-rock, and Moncton guard rules in curling, which state that a rock in play but not in scoring position cannot be taken out by the opposing team before a number of rocks have been thrown in that end. The issue was that one team would get a couple points ahead and then simply take out every other rock the other team threw, leaving them no opportunity to score and making for a very boring game. As the accuracy of takeout shots and the skill of the players has improved, the number of rocks that must be thrown before the guards can be eliminated grows.
    • This was one case where technology forced the rule change: in the 1980s, ice-makers (generally Canadian) became very, very good at making ice surfaces that behaved in a much more predictable manner than before, allowing greater consistency in shooting and not needing as much force to throw the rock, thus allowing greater accuracy. At the same time, curlers were switching from old-fashioned corn brooms which littered the ice with small pieces that broke off while sweeping and broke down the pebble on the ice to brushes that both kept the ice cleaner and caused a slight melting effect that reduced friction, both changes also increasing shot accuracy due to less power needed to overcome debris that would normally be on the ice and reducing the risk some debris would get trapped under the rock and cause it to suddenly change direction. The "peel game" developed almost immediately.
    • In some situations, it reached absurd levels where you knew who would probably win before the match even started. In curling, if no points were scored in an end, the team that shot last shoots last again. A team that had a good peeling game, if they won the coin toss to shoot last in the first end, would blank end after end until the last one where they'd simply have to get the last rock of the game somewhere in the rings to win. For non-curling fans, imagine if the coin flip at the beginning of the Super Bowl decided who was going to maintain possession of the ball for the entire game as long as they didn't score, so all they had to do was keep the ball until the final play of the game to kick a field goal. And if they didn't kick the field goal, they got the ball back in overtime until they could score.
  • Rugby Union:
    • The law that a temporary substitute cannot kick for goal was added after the Bloodgate scandal, in which a fake injury was used to get a kicker on the field.
    • Rugby laws used to define a ruck as players from both teams competing over a ball on the ground. In a test match against England in Six Nations 2017, Italy exploited this law by not sending players in to contest the ball, which meant there was no ruck and therefore no offside line. The law was then changed, with a particular push from England coach Eddie Jones, to re-define rucks so it now only required players from one team to be formed. Ironically, this law change came back to haunt England in their match against New Zealand a year later, when what would have been a game-winning try for England was overturned because of the new offside laws.
  • American college football:
    • The NCAA added a rule for the 2011 season dictating that if a penalty occurs during the final minute of the half, the clock is run down for 10 seconds if the affected team doesn't take a time out. This came in response to an incident at the 2010 Music City Bowl between North Carolina and Tennessee, where in an act of desperation to get a game-tying field goal, UNC sloppily brought six extra players onto the field and "spiked" the ball, causing the clock to stop at one second on the ensuing penalty (they would get the field goal and win in double overtime). Fittingly, the first team to have this new rule used against them in the 2011 season was UNC.
    • There are obvious rule patches that are not so much about preventing game-breakers as about preventing injuries or deaths that resulted when they were used. For example, American Football banning the use of the flying wedge formation in 1894.
  • In women's international gymnastics, the "Produnova" vault (handspring to double front tuck) was a frequent source of Loophole Abuse. For over a decade, it was the single highest-valued vault in women's gymnastics, beating out other top vaults for half a point or more note . This led some gymnasts to compete the vault even though they couldn't quite land it fully on their feet (instead landing it in a sitting position), and a few even managed to make it to event finals doing this, because the difficulty was enough to keep them in the running even with a fall deduction. The 2017 Code Of Points finally introduced a new rule that if "the gymnast lands on the feet [and] any other body part simultaneously", the vault will be considered a much lower-valued single front tuck, thereby preventing gymnasts from benefiting from the high difficulty value unless they can actually land the skill correctly.
    • Gymnastics scoring in general has had several of these over the years, as the governing body attempts to fix identified flaws from each previous system.
      • Under the original scoring system, all routines were scored in the same way — beginning from a 10.0, and then subtracting for deductions. But as more and more difficult acrobatic tricks became the norm (especially in women's gymnastics, where at one time the focus was heavily on artistry and performance), a potential flaw of the existing scoring system began to present itself: without any kind of added value or bonus for difficulty, a gymnast who attempted difficult tricks often ended up at a disadvantage over an easier routine, because they would get the deductions that came with the harder skills without getting any reward for trying them in the first place (or the judges would go easy on them to reward them for said difficult skills, which made everything far too subjective). The initial fix, introduced in 1990, was to lower the base score of each routine to a 9.5 and requiring the gymnast to make up the extra half point with bonuses for difficult skills. This helped some, but with only half a point in play, gymnasts were still limited in the number and extent of difficult skills they would be rewarded for, meaning that the issue, while somewhat lessened, was still there. This was followed by subsequent adjustments in subsequent Codes, each lowering the base score further in an attempt to provide a larger window for difficulty bonuses.
      • After the 2004 Olympics (which involved some major gymnastics scoring controversies), the gymnastics governing body finally decided that the system they'd been tweaking more and more for years was just not going to cut it and began work on a completely new scoring system, which they rolled out two years later. In this system, the default maximum execution score was raised back to a 10.0, but would now be accompanied by an open-ended difficulty score, thereby allowing gymnasts to earn bonus points for as much difficulty as they could reasonably handle. To offset some of this, the penalty for a fall was doubled from a half point to a full point, as a disincentive to compete skills they routinely fell on.
      • In the years since its introduction, the exact nature of the difficulty score has been modified several times over. In women's gymnastics, the initial difficulty score counted the top 10 elements in each routine, with vault scores calculated to roughly match equivalent difficulty on other events. This meant that those with the ability to do 9 or 10 difficult skills/the highest-difficulty vaults ended up with massive difficulty scores, which gave them a pretty large cushion in execution deductions unless they were competing against gymnasts with similar difficulty. (For example, in the 2008 Olympics, Chinese vaulter Cheng Fei fell on one of her vaults and still won a bronze over American Alicia Sacramone, who had two very clean vaults but had somewhat lower — though still substantial — difficulty.)
      • Beginning in 2009, the number of counted skills per routine for women was dropped from 10 to 8, in hopes that this would better balance the difficulty and execution sides of things. However, vault scores were not reduced accordingly, so strong vaulters ended up with a significant all-around advantage over those who were weaker on vault but stronger on other events. The 2013 code lowered the values on some of the top vaults, but not enough to completely eliminate the discrepancy. note 
    • This is also the reason that the "lunge rule" on women's floor exercise was eliminated. For many years, gymnasts were allowed to take a choreographed step, or "lunge", out of their passes on floor exercise; it was meant to be for the sake of presentation, but in reality, the exact line between a controlled, intentional lunge out of a good landing and a bounce or step on landing being covered as a lunge was not always clear, especially for judges making scoring decisions in real time. The rule was eliminated in 2009. (Since then, some gymnasts will do a jump out of landings to avoid having to hit a true stick, but jumps are much more difficult and are also evaluated for deductions, so it's not quite the same thing.)
  • The World's Strongest Man strongman competition has an event called the Atlas Stones. There are five round stones, with the first stone being the lightest and the fifth being the heaviest. The objective of the event is to pick up and place all five stones on a pedestal as quickly as possible. Originally, there was no rule as to the order the stones had to be placed. Three-time champion Bill Kazmaier took advantage of this by doing the third through fifth stones first, then doing the first and second stones. This allowed him to blaze through the event since he could go all-out to get the three heaviest stones onto the pedestal, and then use less effort to place the final two. After this, event organizers created a new rule that the stones had to be done in order from lightest to heaviest.

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