Judy Kay-Wolff


While I was working on a blog, Bobby came in and told me there was an article he had just read about the worst scandals in the sports world in the last fifty or so years according to a poll of many people.   I told him to let me think about it when I finished what I was writing.    I thought and thought and thought but never would have guessed the answers and percentages.  I will post the answers of the first three and the percentages who selected them this evening.    It boggled my mind.


Howard Bigot-JohnsonNovember 23rd, 2011 at 8:37 pm

HBJ : I can’t wait to read more. Clearly history is littered with major sporting scandals, but since bridge unfortunately is exposed to so many different levels and ways of cheating, the thousands of little incidents that occur each year all add up to ONE COLLECTIVE MAJOR SCANDAL.
Mind you I once proposed the idea of having two separate Olympics : one for drug taking cheating athletes , the other for those who proudly believed in staying clean. This way both sets of athletes could compete on a LEVEL PLAYING FIELD.
I wonder instead if the idea might have more relevance to the fiercely competitive world of tournament bridge.

Robb GordonNovember 23rd, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I would not dare attempt to guess what the percentages are. I will give my top 5. Bridge is not among them, because I consider it a game, not a sport. I realize others feel differently.

This also only goes back to 1961 so does not include things like the Black Sox and the City College point-shaving.

5. Tim Donaghy – how does a sport survive an on-court official betting on games? Yet this went by without a whimper.

4. Pete Rose – no, not his gambling. Betting on your own team is a misdemeanor in my mind. Not in the mind of baseball. No, baseball is so clean (see #2) that this merits the death penalty. What a joke! One of the most exiting players of my lifetime banned from baseball and the HOF.

3. Tour de France doping – Another sport where we will never know the extent of the abuse. All we know is enough to have zero confidence in its integrity.

2. Baseball and Steroids – so we ban a guy from the sport for making bets. We ban a guy whose team was involved in a gambling scandal without any clear evidence that he even participated (1919). But what do we do with Clemens, Bonds, Sosa, McGwire et al. Last I knew they were still legally part of baseball, in fact McGwire seems to have a secure job coaching in St Louis. Tell me, who made a joke out of the game I love – Rose or Bonds?

1. Penn State – Sadly, #1 has to be Penn State. If on the off-chance Sandusky is innocent, then JoePa, one of the greatest coaches and most inspiring men of my lifetime will have been robbed of a dignified retirement. If, in the more likely case, Sandusky is guilty, then surely there are many who share the blame for allowing the most heinous unforgivable crimes to be committed against innocent children. I shudder…

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 24th, 2011 at 1:16 am

Perhaps it was in the wording of my blog that misled you, but the question was — which well known sports figures were involved in the most scandalous situations in the last fifty years. According to the poll, here were the results.

Only three were mentioned:

1. O. J. SIMPSON (50%)

You may not agree — but that was the result of the inquiry.
(That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla).

Robb GordonNovember 24th, 2011 at 2:53 am

Well, I think those are reasonable candidates. I didn’t include OJ because I didn’t think it was a “sports” scandal – he was long retired albeit a broadcaster, and the scandal itself wasn’t sports related. I thought Tiger was just embarrassing. Since when is a married athlete having an affair a “scandal”? But as you say, that’s why they make Butter Pecan and Strawberry.

Robb GordonNovember 24th, 2011 at 2:54 am

By the way, which scandals (not people) would you and Bobby put at the “top”?

MartinNovember 24th, 2011 at 3:54 am

A couple of examples of the biggest tournament of the biggest sport in the world come to mind:

1) World Cup 1978: Argentina – Peru 6-0. Peru did not have a chance anymore to progress, and Argentina needed 6 goals to qualify for the final to pip Brazil on goal difference. It is pretty certain that some or all Peruvians were bribed. Argentina went on to beat Holland in the final.

2) World Cup 1982: West Germany – Austria 1-0. Germany took the lead after 11 minutes, after which literally nothing happened for the remaining 79 minutes. With this result, both teams progressed to the next round, while Algeria (that had played its match earlier) was eliminated. Basicaly, this was the soccer equivalent of dumping. After this tournament, a new rule was introduced that the last matches in the group stage had to be played simultaneously.

Another example, from 1983, not during a World Cup, but a Euro qualifier: Spain – Malta 12-1. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spain_vs_Malta_1984_UEFA_European_Football_Championship_qualifying_match

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 24th, 2011 at 5:50 am


I think of a sports scandal when a famous personality is put in a bad light. Certainly all three meet the standards. As far as Tiger, I guess I am just a prude — but to have headlines for months was just too much.

He should have known better and protected his name and his family. When a person is in the limelight, I think he has a responsibility to the public to uphold the standards of which our country should be proud.

As far as O.J., I agree completely. Bobby thinks it is awful they got him on the second charge — but I don’t. The trial with Ito and Marcia and Cochrane was a sham and I still have not gotten over it, but I do agree he wins first place without a close second for a sports-associated figure (whether retired or active) for making the headlines whether the glove fit or not.

Paterno is another story. Sounds pretty bad at this juncture in time, but I am sure there is lots more to come out.

Bobby WolffNovember 24th, 2011 at 6:42 am

Hi Robb,

It would be hard for me to offer better choices than do you.

The rogue referee belongs at or close to the top, perhaps not years ago when professional basketball was just beginning, but now, and with all the betting going on, and every day in whatever the topical sport, the daily figure must surely reach the billions.

From an intellectual point of view, my guess of him, or anyone who took great caution against getting caught,
the odds against would be very strong, so who is to say that there hasn’t been at least 10 or many more like him to have slipped through the slits.

If I am even close to right in my “guesstimate” the credibility of umpires, referees and all other officials and administrators of our competitions immediately go below the “Mendoza Line”.

As you are quite aware, the cheating scandals in bridge have been 100% real and your further mention of bike riding with illegal drug support as well as many other sports becomes almost paralytic.

The handling of OJ Simpson and its verdict was punishment to the USA for its horrible bigoted past. BTW, I, for one, was not in favor of the postman ringing twice in his case, and as far as I am concerned, it merely subtracted even more from our justice system.

Summing up my opinion, life, and the people living it, are certainly not perfect and all we can hope for is that our society agrees with me and makes whatever effort it can to bring back the greatest generation, with both the necessary morals but even more important, the role models and leadership which goes with.

Like you suggest, if I was a baseball manager (pity the poor team) but I would like to have 25 players with the enthusiasm, talent and work ethic of Pete Rose and the more he bet on his own team the harder he would try. However, we are a nation of rules and I have yet to meet a judge (although my law training introduced me to some who would meet the criteria) who would rule based on interpreting the law to everyone’s (including our country) advantage, instead of just quoting what the law says.

If anyone or anything is to blame, it is the human condition and its many moods.

In spite of the many negatives I write about, it is still my desire to be around as long as I can manage.

Thanks for your opinions. I second your motions.

James McLarenNovember 24th, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Kneecapping a figure skater?

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 25th, 2011 at 1:11 am

Yes, James, that’s pretty bad!
Sounds like back from the Nancy Kerrigan days.

Judy Kay-WolffNovember 25th, 2011 at 1:16 am


I am having computer problems. I wrote before but it did not appear. To repeat, I
think the Penn State issue is probably the worst as so many innocent children were hurt because people did not speak up loud and clear when it was obviously right to do so. Soon as, you’ll pardon the expression, Sandusky was exposed, it should have been a matter of police record and measures should have been taken immediately. Everyone seemed to know, but kept their mouths shut.


Jeff HNovember 28th, 2011 at 6:59 am

I think the inclusion of the current Penn State situation is probably more timing related than anything. It is noteworthy that a previous prosecuter chose not to pursue this due to lack of evidence. The fact that the current prosecuter chose to take it to a grand jury to investigate further suggests that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute, at least prior to the grand jury.

There is much to suggest that Paterno fulfilled his legal obligations, if not his moral obligations, by informing his superior. Certain members of the PSU board have been trying to get rid of him for years and this gave them the excuse.

Gary MugfordNovember 30th, 2011 at 2:08 am


The problem with all polls is that they are of the minute. And right this minute, the Penn State scandal is all things bad to all good people. I won’t dismiss the seemingly willful ignorance there, but a decade from now, will it be any worse than the burgeoning Syracuse scandal or Fatty Arbuckle’s scandal?

There’s also the need for distinction between societal scandals such as those of Penn State, Syracuse, Tiger and the Juice vs. sporting scandals such as throwing soccer games or a world series. For some people, ALL of the scandals where innocents got hurt finish ahead of ANY of the pure sporting scandals. And, I’m sure, there reverse is true for some.

Since I hate mucking around in the morality morass, I confine MY poll answers to the sporting side. For me, there was [1] the umpire calling my girl out at the plate when a badly-shaking hand-held camera showed she was safe in the 1981 World Women’s Junior Softball Championships semi-finals (extra innings) between eventual gold medalist Japan and my Canadian squad. [2] The decision by the then Toronto Blue Jay management to bank more regular trips into Toronto by the Yankees and Red Sox and join the AL East instead of fighting to keep alive a rivalry with Detroit and the rest of the AL Central (where, life might have been more fun for a Blue Jay fan). [3] The ‘contest results reassignation’ (ahh how I fought against using the common vulgarity) the USA Men’s basketball team got in the game against Russia in the ’72 Olympics. All basketball fans weep at its memory.

I guess all of the preceding sounds a little self-serving. Of course it was. Otherwise, how can any rationale person put the Tiger Woods contretemps ahead of the Black Sox scandal? And who’ll finish first in the race to the depths of depravity between Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Fine, if they are guilty as publicly charged?

It’s all in the timing anyways. Say, what ever became of the Fatty Arbuckle fellow?

As always, enjoy your blogging. Best of the season to you and yours, GM

Allan StauberNovember 30th, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Re betting on your own team: I agree that it is nowhere near as bad as betting on the opponents, but I think there are some problems with it. Here are a couple reasons:

1. If there is a point spread, there may be undue attempts to beat it. For example, for eons there have been rumors re football games & actions late in the game. Teams were rumored to have gone for a TD rather than take an easy FG. Of course, the TD would beat or tie the spread whereas the FG wouldn’t. Anyway, teams thereby reduced their chances of winning the game. The most famous case is probably the 1958 Colts-Giants NFL Championship Game. Pls reference http://www.mail-archive.com/ctrl@listserv.aol.com/msg28042.html. Maybe nothing nasty happened that time, but I wouldn’t bet on it!

BTW, don’t tell anyone, but a mere 21 point college underdog once saved my $10 bet w/ a friend. Very late in the game they kicked a FG to “only” lose by 24-3! I’m sure it was solely to avoid a whitewash. 🙂

2. If a player racks up big debts to bookies or whomever (not such a small probability), he may be susceptible to later manipulation to throw games.

Georgiana GatesNovember 30th, 2011 at 5:30 pm

The original article was limited to the last 50 years. So the Black Sox were not eligible.

Also, I don’t think that what the Blue Jays did was a scandal. It may have been done solely to make money, but that’s not the same as the other items we’ve been discussing.

PeterDecember 2nd, 2011 at 10:35 am

I would expect Ben Johnson “beating” Carl Lewis at the Olympics to rate a mention, but I’m not from America which seems to have many scandals which I’ve never heard of.

Judy Kay-WolffDecember 2nd, 2011 at 5:06 pm

With so many differing views on the subject of scandal, I decided to investigate the actual word in the Merriam Webster Dictionary. Much to my shock there were some twenty/thirty mentions and examples of the word scandal. I can now understand better the varying views. I just checked Color Oxford Dictionary and Thesauraus and found a much briefer description (in fact two): (1) An action or event causing outrage .. and (1) wrongdoing, impropriety, midsconduct; 2) disgrace, shame, outrage, injustice.

So you can see SCANDAL comes in all sorts of shapes and colors and explained why the responses were so varying.
Perhaps the poll takers should have been more discreet and cautious in describing the word itself although I did apreciate the varying degrees and examples of “scandal.”

I don’t think of scandals as murders or mudslinging necessarily — but rather as outrageouly wrongful doings in the eyes of the world.

Some are milder; other are out of proportion and have caught the attention of the listening and reading public the world over. I might add that Paterno and Sandusky are apt examples.

Many people were involved in coverups, turned their heads the other way. many thought of it as mere neglience, but what was questioned is that a modern, upright universtiy is now caught up in an immoral issue for the world to see and judge.

Morever, it appears that dozens of youngsters were abused over several decades. That is far more than a scandal.
It is the timing that is making PS bear the brunt and get the publicity.

Bobby WolffDecember 2nd, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Hi Allan Stauber,

You are right on when you speak (or infer) that even betting on one’s team should be a no, no, since the public would have no idea when, after crossing the first illegality about betting at all, wouldn’t it be easier to, if tempted, to then cross into the abyss of helping ruin the competition entirely and go for whatever it is one thinks he needs?

That is, or close to, what I think of when subjects like sportsmanlike dumping or not adhering to trying one’s hardest comes into the conversation.

During my many recorder adventures and worse where people succumbed to cheating atrocities, the temptation will too often get the best of weaker moralities. At least to me the total meltdown of the world financial system, starting right here in the USA with probably hedge funds is a valid example for all of us to fear and then to legislate against to at least try to prevent.

It is well known in history that democracy CANNOT work without self-discipline and by stepping further and further away from the so-called “greatest generation” (around World War II times) and the many splendored varied cultural mix which America has become, only tends to probably attempt too much to keep it going.

At least to me in bridge, with the growth of professional bridge, now totally expanding to all forms of international competition, is an example of, if you will excuse the expression, “a bridge gone too far”, since it will require more discipline than most of us can produce to even think of allowing some young pairs (witness the recent winners of the Blue Ribbon and, for that matter the changing complexion of our expert bridge community) to have an easier path to playing in a trials which can only enhance the future of bridge in our country, but instead the barriers set up for qualification (requiring top teams) are perfect examples of almost impossible hurdles to cross.

Good for sponsors and pros to both slither in and with the green, but absolutely horrible for the future.

Next step in the making, 4 apes sitting around what used to be Times Square in NYC trying to outbid each other and playing for more bananas a point than any of them can afford.

Is it too late to correct? The readers of these comments will have to decide for themselves.