Sport truly is a beautiful spectacle that can bring people from all walks of life together. From the casual follower to the avid fan, sport in its many different forms has been the salvation for many.
It has the ability to take a bad day at the office and turn it into a memorable win against a fierce rival. It can also morph into a walk on an emotional tightrope for fans who take it too seriously and elevate sports stars to levels of adornment normally reserved for deities.
The real essence that draws many of us in, however, is the spontaneity of competition. Any game can reel people in because we all want to know the outcome and see who comes out on top.
However, what if things aren't as pure and unscripted as they seem? What if there are forces at play that are actually pulling the strings? What if you aren't watching sporting greatness unfold but an elaborate puppet show? What do you do when your heroes turn out to be lesser mortals with flaws? Where do you go?
Sport, like most things in the modern world, is tainted to a sizeable extent by controversies that sully the spectacle. Over the years, there have been many different incidents where fans have been left aghast after scandals have unravelled leaving many famous personalities to incur the wrath of the public that believes in a fair and just world.
In this piece, we will go through some of the biggest scandals to rock the sporting world since the turn of the new century. So, in no particular order, let us get started.
Houston Astros electronic sign stealing scandal in 2017 and 2018
We get started with the most recent scandal to come out of Major League Baseball and bring a whole lot of unwanted attention to 'America's favourite pass-time'. The Houston Astros, a talented side that played some scintillating baseball and had a really good record at home.
They led the AL West before going on to beat the likes of the Boston Rex Sox, the New York Yankees and the LA Dodgers to clinch the 2017 World Series title apparently had an elaborate scheme going to steal the signs of opposing teams that visited them at Minute Maid Park in Houston during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
While baseball is no stranger to controversies like the 1919 Chicago 'Black Sox' scandal, Pete Rose's betting scandal, the BALCO scandal and the infamous 'Steroid Era' where players began hitting in a truly ungodly manner, nothing has been as bad as what the Astros did.
In a detailed report in The Athletic, baseball analysts Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich revealed that the Astros had a camera pointed at centre field illegally providing a live feed to a monitor in their dugout. With this, the Astros then relayed information about significant changes from the catcher by banging on a trash can with a bat.
Former Astros man Mike Fiers, who pitched for the franchise and was part of the World Series winning side in 2017 was the first to break the silence and get the dominoes toppling. General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Field Manager AJ Hinch lost their jobs after the subsequent MLB investigation in January 2020.
The Astros were also fined $5 million by the MLB and have lost their draft picks for the next two years. There was also talks of players wearing electronic bandages that would buzz and tell them what sort of pitch was coming but nothing was proven.
In addition to the Astros, the Boston Red Sox are also under investigation at the time of writing for the same infringement. Alex Cora, who was Hinch's Bench Manager in 2017 before becoming the Red Sox's GM was also found guilty and relieved of his duties in Boston. Carlos Beltran was the only Astros player who was named in the MLB report and he too lost his job as GM of the New York Mets soon after the news became public.