Conspiracy theories in sports.

A golden question mark. Ryan Milani (Flickr)

Que the X-Files theme.

We all love a good conspiracy theory. Whether it’s if the moon landing actually happened or was staged, who killed Kennedy, or if aliens are the ones making crop circles, we cannot help but eat up everything that these theories have to offer us. Athletics does not disappoint when it comes to these theories either. Here are some of the hottest and most controversial conspiracies of our time!

Up first is Game 6 of the 2002 National Basketball Association (NBA) Western Conference Final! What’s the theory? The Sacramento Kings were leading the Lakers 3-2 in the Western Conference finals before David Stern supposedly ordered the officiating crew to take every measure possible to ensure that the Lakers won. Is this as farfetched as it may seem? No, it is not. The Kings are a much smaller market than the Lakers, who are one of the NBA’s premier franchises. Having the Lakers in the finals brought forth significantly higher ratings than the Kings, meaning that it will benefit the NBA as a whole if they win. Although nobody has confirmed or denied this, it would not be too farfetched to believe.

Back in 2004, during Game 6 of the ALCS, Red Sox starter Curt Schilling was pitching against the Yankees. He had an injured ankle and supposedly placed what looked to be either ketchup or red paint on his sock to cover his injured ankle. It was believed that he did this in order to provide a scapegoat excuse in case he pitched poorly. If he pitched well, then he would be able to play the part of the hero. How does one get accused of something so bizarre? It was well known that Schilling loved attention, and being able to fabricate such a story where he can be the star is something that his fans could definitely believe. However, we have never had anyone commit to confirming this for us.

Taking it all the way back to the 1985 National Basketball Associations (NBA) draft when the New York Knicks were wanting to get Patrick Ewing. This, my friends, is the famous frozen envelope theory that we all love and shiver about. It is believed that this envelope was frozen to allow for it to be easily identifiable amongst the many other envelopes present in the draw. This tactic is also a lot easier than trying to bend or tamper the envelope in any other way as it is difficult to prove once the envelope reaches room temperature again. What lengths will individual teams and franchises go to to get the players that they desire?

In, 1995 it was believed that the New Zealand national rugby team was poisoned prior to the World Cup final! Allegedly, many members of the team had come down with food poisoning after eating at a restaurant the evening prior. Many blamed the waitress that was serving the team during this meal. The reason for this supposed poisoning was due to the fact that they were scheduled to be facing South Africa. Although New Zealand was the favoured team to win the match, they were playing in front of primarily South African fans, making their eventual win that much sweeter. Although possible, nobody was ever able to track down this supposed waitress.

Finally, we will look at the 2005 National Hockey League lottery. All eyes were on which lucky team was going to land superstar Sidney Crosby. Surprise, surprise – Crosby was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins for the season. Why is this so suspicious? The Penguins franchise was not doing well at the time and there was a possibility that they could go under. By drawing this emerging star, it allowed them to secure viability within the company. The team began to rise in the standings and allowed for the franchise to get back on its feet fast enough that a new arena was built shortly afterwards. Although the plausibility that this was the case is there, nobody has been able to figure out how they may have done it. Other teams at the time were also struggling to stay afloat, making Crosby’s name well watched in the draft.

This is just the tip of the iceberg amongst a long list of theories that fans and franchises alike have come up with. From phantom punches to power outages and, of course, to rigged drafts, there is something for every sport and every occasion. While the sweat may fall, the drama will continue to rise.

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