Are Professional Sports Rigged?

If you like or pay attention to sports, you probably know that they have problems with either being terribly officiated, or maybe rigged in some cases. Recently, it seems as if officiating is at an all-time low for sports like basketball. Every week there is a terrible call that decides the fate of the game, and it ends up going viral on social media. The most recent occurrence of this was the holding call during the Superbowl that cost the Eagles the game. There’s no doubt that officiated can be awful, but are professional sports rigged? There are many fans who believe in the “NFL script”. People think that the games are set up, and that the winners are already determined before the games actually happen. Sometimes this can seem believable, like when the Minnesota Vikings came back from down 33-0. Even though an entire league being scripted is highly unlikely, it is still possible that some games are rigged, and several fans are wondering if they are. 

There have been cases in the past where games have been rigged. As an example, game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento KIngs. The referee, Tim Donaghy, was confirmed to have been betting on games he officiated, and he ended up going to jail for it. It is a known fact that this game was rigged, and it cost a great team a potential championship. The Kings were the team that they called most of the fouls on. The Lakers got 40 free throws and the Kings only got 25. 27 of those free throws for the Lakers came in the fourth quarter. There were also a plethora of terrible calls during this game. This game is often looked back on as one of the worst officiated games of all time, and it was definitely rigged. 

The next example is a conspiracy. The 1985 draft was the first year they introduced a lottery system to prevent tanking. This draft class contained one of the most promising big men to come out of college ever. Patrick Ewing from Georgetown was a stud, and he was almost guaranteed to be the number 1 pick, but you had to win the lottery to get him. The way the lottery worked was that Jack Wagner would place envelopes, with the team's logo inside of them, into a plastic ball. Then he would spin the ball, and after that, the commissioner, David Stern, would take out an envelope and that team would have the number 1 pick and get Ewing. This is where the conspiracy starts. Jack Wagner was part of the accounting firm that was part of the auditing firm for the ownership group of the Knicks. People believe that when he put the Knick's envelope into the ball, he bent the corner of it so David Stern could easily identify it, and give the Knicks the number 1 pick. This conspiracy theory makes sense because at the time the NBA needed a big market team to be good to take away from all the drug usage going on in the sport. Also, the Knicks were a struggling team, and they wanted New York to do well.

Those were two examples of how professional sports were seen as rigged in the past. Recently, there is a lot of buzz about the NFL script being leaked. It was said to make the Eagles win the Superbowl 37-34, but this didn’t happen. There is also a lot of talk from the players about the script. A former player from the  Texans, Arain Foster, jokingly mentioned in a podcast about how the NFL is scripted. Also, in a playoff game, the Jaguars completed an improbable comeback, and their quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, said that they couldn’t have scripted it any better. This seems like a joke, but some people might actually believe it. Along with the script, there is terrible officiating lately, and a lot of people may think the holding call in the Superbowl was rigged for the Chiefs to win.

Personally, I think that professional sports aren’t rigged anymore. I think that there are questionable calls from officials from time to time, but they have a hard job. I believe that the only reason sports have been rigged is because of marketing and that they’re trying to create more revenue opportunities. I feel as if today, sports are heading in the right direction, and that less scummy things are happening.







Do you think professional sports like the NFL and NBA are rigged?


Do you think bad officiating is hurting sports?


Do you think we will see more conspiracy theories about how sports are rigged in the future?

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  • Love this topic and super job Mason! +5

  • I don't think sports are rigged because the players get paid by how well they play. I think the officials are doing their best and it is hard to see everything that is going on. I think people are always talking about how they think sports are rigged because their team lost.

  • No i dont believe that sports are rigged. Yes i do believe that the reffs make some terrible calls, but this is sports. yes we always see more conspiracy theories

  • I don't think professional sports as a whole are rigged. However, it is possible that certain important games are rigged. It would be nearly impossible to rig professional sports as a whole, since it would be way too noticeable to the public eye. I think that certain officials do rig games on purpose, but unless there is proof against them, we can't do anything about it.

  • Just like any big organization that involves competition, there is going to be swaying of outcome. People bet their lives savings, they make these things their lives, and in turn they are willing to cheat the system to get the outcome they want. I definetly think there is rigging in the sports industry without a doubt, and bad officiating could also just be officiates who got paid to sway the score. 

  • I personally don't think that sports such as the NFL or NBA are rigged. Although I think bad officiating does hurt sports, but they have a very hard job to do. I do think it's possible that we will see more conspiracy theories in the future about sports to see if their rigged or not. 

    • I agree with you that refs have a very tough job, and that those sports aren't rigged.

  • I have heard of some of the theories about professional sports, but I don't believe in any of them. I think it should be "illegal" in the sports industry for officials and referees to bet on any professional games that go on. Because that can largely impact the game and sport. 

    • I believe that most of the theories about professional sports are false, but I think there are definetly a few of them that are true.

  • I think there is a chance that it is rigged, but I don't think we will actually ever find out if it is. Big companies like the NFL and NBA have lots of money to keep their secrets from getting out. I also think that sports players are paid way too much. I feel like healthcare workers, teachers, fire fighters, etc should be payed liked these athletes. 

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