20 of the Most Annoying Things in Sports

annoying sportsWe love sports and society wouldn’t be the same without them. However, each sport has things about it that annoys even the most die-hard fan. Certainly there are rules that frustrate players, fans, and even referees, but then there are other things that are simply part of the game that make people hold their breath and tolerate.

It’s called the TV time-out. It’s perhaps the most ludicrous delay for any sport. Each team gets an undeserved break simply so the viewers at home are forced to watch another beer commercial.

Beyond that, each sport has other annoying things, and we’ll break them down.


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(AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)


Waiting is the hardest part

Football is the most popular sport in the United States, despite the fact that we’re sitting around and waiting for each play the majority of the time. While a hurry-up offense certainly has its downside, it’s great for fans who’d rather see more plays than a quarterback waiting for the clock to wind down. Also, the longer those guys wait on the line, the more likely there will be pre-play penalties, like offsides and false starts. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see a play than watching the refs enforce some of the most unforgiving rules in all of sports.


Long delay for instant replay

Football didn’t always have instant replay, but now that we’ve got it, it seems that games are held up for ten minutes while the refs try to determine the best angle to see if the player’s fingernail was between the ball and the ground. This is the price we pay for wanting the correct call to be made. As Mike from Masters of None suggests, how about play the commercials during the challenges? When they come back from commercial, then show the audience the best angle of the replay.


Strict, strict rules

Fans, players and coaches pull their hair out after yet another offsides or false start penalty. Two players can get into a shoving match and both teams get 15-yard penalties, which ultimately means… nothing. A great play can be washed out by a holding penalty that wasn’t anywhere near the play. Roughing the passer. Defensive pass interference. Again, this is just the way it is and football is popular despite these strict rules, but certainly everyone finds them annoying at times.



Injuries are annoying in all sports but the design of football virtually ensures that a handful of players will injure themselves throughout any game. We want to watch football, not players getting hauled off the field in a stretcher.

Despite the frequent commercials, wait-til-the-clock-winds-down-before-saying-hike, extended instant replay, and strict rules, football remains the most popular sport in the U.S. While rules have changed over the years, further effort to cut some of the delays, and allow more plays, can’t hurt.


Rain Delay 001b 300x200Less happens than any other sport
By design, not very much actually happens during the course of a baseball game. While all sports have down time, the vast majority of a baseball game is waiting. Pitchers take to long to pitch. Batters stepping out of the box to scratch themselves. Pitcher substitutions delay the game. Yankees-Red Sox game taking more than four hours. At the very best the waiting creates suspense in the most important of situations, but at the very worst it makes fans scream in boredom.


Pitchers striking out pitchers

Major League Baseball having different rules depending on which League  you play in is one of the things that make it unique, though it would be like getting rid of the ineligible man downfield penalty in football’s AFC, but not the NFC. Purists had to compromise on this, so now we get to either see pitchers strike out pitchers in one league, or designated hitters actually hit the ball in the other. In other words, the American League fans roll their eyes during interleague play or the World Series when the DH sits and their pitcher, who swings like a girl, routinely strikes out.


More meaningless games than any other sport

Baseball has 162 games, yet only eight teams make the playoffs. That means, statistically speaking, a single MLB game has less at stake than any single game of any other sport on any level (college football, per game, has the most at stake). And toward the end, with the divisions locked up and the wildcards all but assured, the vast majority of games played have nothing at stake.


No salary cap

If, 50 years from now, the record books show the Yankees have won another 25 World Series, then I’m unclear on why I should even be a baseball fan at all.


Rain delays

Forget television, how annoying is it to go out to the stadium and wait around for hours, waiting on the weather?


Extra innings

The fact that every baseball game theoretically can last forever is both intense and annoying, particularly when there is little at stake. Though ties are never a good thing, it’s hard to want to stay up for a 15-inning marathon between two cellar-dwelling teams.


No instant replay

The idea that an ump is capable of seeing with his naked eye a ball land in a glove vs. a foot landing on a base at full speed defies the laws of human eyesight. Yet, there is no instant replay in baseball, except for a home run (and even that required some bone-headed calls).

Despite the fact that it’s the American pastime, baseball is an acquired taste and die-hard fans seem to ignore the annoying things about it. And these annoying things are highly credible reasons to blatantly dislike the sport.


03 ron artest 300x192‘Me first’ league
The NBA is league designed for individuals to shine and get preferential treatment by the refs. This might not be a bad thing because fans would rather see Kobe score 40 than see those very same points distributed equally among other players. The problem here is that the rules have turned these players into the most ego-centric jerks in all of sports. Also, it’s the same teams in the championship game more than any other league. A single basketball player means more to his team than a single player for any other sport (although a goaltender in hockey may come closest). I don’t know about you, but I’m not big on rooting for guys with massive egos.


Fouls, fouls, fouls

The foul in basketball is the most frequently assessed penalty in all of sports. Plus, many are called with little affect on the play. Drawing a foul in basketball is incredibly easy compared to other sports. While this is all a part of the strategy, the game would certainly be more exciting if we were watching more 5-on-5 and less free-throw shooting. Also, the fact that defenders purposely foul for clock management seems to defeat the purpose of the foul. Imagine if an NFL or NHL player could purposely commit a penalty just to save clock time.


Nonsensical rules

There are other annoying rules in basketball, such as offensive goaltending, the ball being advanced to half court after a time out, and the possession arrow in college basketball that many fans don’t appreciate, but the one that makes the least sense to me is the opening tip-off being used to determine possession at the beginning of each quarter. If each team gets equal possessions, then they might as well flip a coin or let the home team get the first and last quarter. However, if they have a tip-off at the beginning of each quarter, there will at least be something at stake. Plus, the tall, skinny bench warmer will get a bit of playing time as the top-off specialist.


Too many timeouts

Basketball also seems to have the most number of time-outs and television time-outs available. This slows down the pace of the game, particularly at the end of a close game.

The NBA seems to get a boost every decade or so as a new superduperstar comes to the forefront of the league, or by rivalries between two big stars. That’s when the NBA gets hot again and the league is in good shape. It’s rarely done anything to curb the annoying things about it (though it gave a slight boost to scoring by moving the 3-point line), but at the end of the day, it’s ultimately the same as it’s been for the last few decades.


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Rules changes

The NHL is a league that has changed its rules over time based on how the game has evolved. The high-scoring 80s are long gone, and the low-scoring 90s are gone as well. The league got rid of the ho-hum tie games and instituted a more exciting 4-on-4 overtime and a shootout, bringing fans to their feet. Purists are disgusted, but the rule changes have created an atmosphere with potential to grow like no other sport today. But, how good is a sport that has to keep changing its own rules?


Overtime during playoffs

Like with extra innings in baseball, a hockey game can last forever during the playoffs. The longer it goes, the more likely it will end on a fluke goal. Using the regular season rules is best for the playoffs, but there’s something to be said for getting to bed at a decent hour and not drifting off during the third overtime. Yes, to a large degree this is the most exciting, intense moment in sports, but when a sport is designed to only last a couple of hours, that’s all most fans are prepared to watch.



The biggest beef people have these days? It’s that places like Phoenix and Nashville have teams. The NHL over-expanded. But time will likely correct that as no one wants to lose money in bad markets.

There is virtually no time during a hockey game that lacks excitement, aside from poor play by an undetermined team. Games generally last two and a half hours from the time the first puck drops to the final horn, and the only waiting around is when the plexiglass comes loose, which rarely happens. There are many hockey haters out there who are in love with other sports and dismiss hockey for no other reason than because ‘it’s hockey’ or ‘it’s boxing on skates.’ These are the most close-minded, obnoxious sports fans who dismiss an entire sport without even giving a respectable answer as to why. I completely understand why someone would say that golf is boring, and baseball, too, but I’ve never heard even the slightest credible reason as to why hockey sucks.


image6595539x 300x225According to most international fans, there is nothing wrong or annoying with soccer. But it hasn’t caught on in the U.S., and here are those reasons.


Lack of scoring

A single goal in soccer is the most valuable type of score in all of sports (with a single free-throw in basketball being the least valuable). Therefore, there is no score in sports more exciting than seeing a goal scored in soccer. But it’s hard to convince a relatively impatient nation to respect a sport where only one goal will happen in 90 minutes of play. Hearing that a 2-0 lead is ‘insurmountable’ gives people reason to tune out.


Hidden time-keeping

This has been mentioned a million times over. It makes no sense to have only the refs know how much injury time there is and not the players or fans. Some find this to be a delightful mystery, while others throw their hands up in disgust and can’t imagine how anyone can take the sport seriously.


The refs

During the 2010 World Cup, particularly after the U.S. was robbed of a goal by the referee, it’s been made clear by international pundits that the ref’s decision-making process is part of the beauty of the game. Americans don’t buy that. They do not want to hear that a single game may have turned out differently depending on who judged it. Though it’s true that all sports are susceptible to different rulings by different refs, hearing that it’s an accepted part of soccer is like hearing that a coin flip can determine the winner.


The rules

Offsides, match disqualifications, and limits on subs are rules that annoy certain people. It’s something the Americans complain about once every four years when they actually watch soccer.

One thing that generally gives a sport a spark is a superstar. Considering that the best leagues in the world are overseas, the United States is unlikely to even see an American star play if he’s not playing here. While Americans complain about certain rules in soccer, it’s likely that those would be overlooked if we had a Pele to root for. Another thing that will increase soccer’s popularity in the United States is immigration. Import more fans and soccer could be the number one sport in the U.S. in the next few decades!

You can hear this article discussed in more detail on the latest episode of our podcast by clicking below. The Gunaxin Show is classified as Explicit, so probably NSFW, unless you work here.