Top 5 of 2002: Sports Spectacles

Controversial decisions — both on and off the field — highlighted the year in sports.

5. No ‘Play’ Before Play

The rest of the world might have found it strange that the U.S. soccer team made it all the way to the World Cup quarter-finals this year. But what really piqued curiosity was the Italian soccer team coach's decision to forbid his players from engaging in intimate activities.

The result? The team had its worst showing in 16 years.

"I think this a great thing for athletes worldwide because from now on coaches should be demanding they have sex before competition based on the way the Italians performed in the World Cup," said sportswriter John Feinstein.

4.The 11-Inning All-Star Game

After 11 innings of the All-Star baseball game in Milwaukee last July, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig declared the game a draw.

"There are no ties in baseball, except in Bud Selig's world of baseball," said Feinstein.

3. Fans Jump First Base Coach

The other low in professional baseball this season? The fans. Specifically the two shirtless maniacs who jumped the Kansas City Royals' first base coach in Chicago's Comiskey Park last September.

"You might think you might have to build moats the way they've done in some soccer stadiums around the world to protect the athlete from the fans," Feinstein said.

2. Olympics Skating Scandal

During this year's Winter Olympics, a French judge cut a deal to give the Russian pair the gold medal even though the Canadians skated better.

After the incident, Ottavio Cinquanta, president of the International Skating Union, said, "This misconduct has not provided all the skaters involved to be judged equally."

"There are those of us who believe that it's not a sport if it involves judges," said Feinstein. "And certainly what occurred in the Olympics in figure skating would be evidence of that."

At least the story had a happy ending. The Russians got to keep their medals, and the Canadians eventually got gold as well. And now both teams are making money, touring together with the Smuckers Stars on Ice show.

1. Freezing Ted Williams

And finally, the strangest sports story of the year — freezing the body of baseball legend Ted Williams. Williams' son had it done, prompting Ted's daughter to take her half brother to court. For now, the body remains in a tank at a cryogenic center in Arizona.

"'Oy vey,' as my mother might put it," said Feinstein.

Need we say more?

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