Weird laws of sport

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By Alex Wade on

Whatever you do, keep your hat on


The Olympics are underway and here at Legal Cheek we were particularly looking forward to the Men’s 20km walk, the final of which was last Friday at 18.30.

Why this event in particular? Well, we like trying to spot the rule-breakers — those who, rather naughtily, run rather than walk.

It is, after all, a perfectly sensible law of walking events that each walker must have one foot in contact with the ground at all times, lest they be classed as running.

Other laws of sport aren’t so rational. Ever been timed out in cricket for not getting your pads on quick enough? Maybe you forgot to sign your scorecard in golf and got disqualified from the tournament? If you have then you’ve been unlucky enough to get caught out by two of sports more unusual rules.

Here’s another. If you are a female chess player, you can get in trouble for showing too much cleavage. Yes, you heard right. This ancient game recently adopted a rule from prehistoric times, so that if you are a chess-playing, cleavage-showing woman, and your opponent complains, the judging panel can then assess whether you’re dressed appropriately for the match.

As Sava Stoisavljevic, the female European Chess Union General Secretary, told Chessbase News in 2012, the change in dress code was due to female players’ appearance causing a commotion. “I heard many comments from spectators and coaches,” said Stoisavljevic. “It’s nice to see chess players with short skirts — they are very pretty girls… But I believe there should still be some limit.”

This infographic reveals that among other strange sporting laws are:

• Keeping your hat on in tennis

• Not, while playing water polo (a brutal game, as its aficionados know), splashing water in your opponent’s face

• Not taking your shirt off in athletics to celebrate on the home straight

• And on no account, if you’re a goalkeeper in a football match, rolling your sleeves up

You have been warned.