In life there seems to be an abundance of unwritten rules, anything from dating, the workplace and in fashion. Where unwritten rules might be most prominent though is in sports. The knowledge of these unwritten rules can separate the casual fan from the life-long devotee, and the new guy on the team from the seasoned player.
Some people complain that many unwritten rules are counter-intuitive of winning, but I’ve alway admired how many of these rules come from a place of respect for the game and for the opponent. Even in hockey, a sport that is most likely to end with pummeling the competition, players don’t walk on other teams’ logos.
Amongst all of the many unwritten rules, these are some of my favorite from major league sports:
Baseball could probably have an entire unwritten rule book in addition to their actual rule book. You can’t walk across the pitcher’s mound, don’t talk about a perfect game in progress, at some stadiums an opposing team’s home run ball is thrown back, don’t watch your home run, hustle around the bases on a home run, the list goes on and on. The most important one in my opinion, and the one that probably shows the most respect to the game, is not to bunt to break up a no-hitter or perfect game. If a pitcher is innings deep into a no-no you don’t want to be the guy that takes a cheap shot at something so important to a pitcher and special in baseball.
Superstitions are a dime a dozen in sports, and hockey has an interesting one. If a team wins the Eastern Conference Championship or the Western Conference Championship you won’t see them carrying around the Prince of Wales Trophy or the Campbell Bowl or popping bottles of champagne. Players will avoid these trophies like the plague, because it’s thought if you touch them you won’t win the Stanley Cup. Which is the trophy they really care about.
With all of the flailing and moaning soccer players do it’s surprising that an athlete would help a player who appears to be hurt, even if they’re on the opposing team. If someone seems to be genuinely injured and a whistle to stop play hasn’t been blown whoever has the ball will kick it out of bounds so they can be helped and attended to by medics if needed. The best part is the ball will be kicked back to the team who had possession before the injury occurred. To me this is a fantastic example of sportsmanship and respect for the game.
At any golf tournament there are a list of rules about how you’re meant to act and how loud your clapping can be, but perhaps the most important rule is not to step on another player’s line to the cup when putting. Not only can this mess up the lay of the grass, but a heavy enough step can cause an indentation in the green that can disrupt a smooth put. More than anything it’s considered a high form of disrespect if you step on a line, and golf is nothing if not a gentleman’s sport.
Some unwritten rules might seem dumb, or create more confusion in a game, but I firmly believe they add more personality and fun to any game while most of the time setting a great example for sportsmanship and respect.