3 Sports Stars Who Have Courted Controversy In Their Careers

Bill Belichick
via Keith Allison / CC-BY-SA-2.0

Sport is a big business these days and fans cannot get enough of the stories and drama that are intertwined. The majority of athletes understandably prefer to produce headlines for their on-field achievements, but there are a number of participants who continuously make the news for their extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, these incidents tend to overshadow their sporting accomplishments, and we pick out three sportspeople who continue to divide opinion whilst also attracting the media spotlight.

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios is an Australian tennis player who tends not shy away from the limelight. The 23-year old has won four ATP titles and undoubtedly has enough talent to secure a Grand Slam triumph, yet his early career has been blighted by a number of controversial incidents. He has been accused of “tanking” on numerous occasions, including twice at Wimbledon, and has admitted at several points that he has failed to put in maximum effort, as he’d “rather be doing something else”.

In 2015, his personal attack on Stan Wawrinka was picked up by the on-court microphones, whilst he has also been charged for a verbal attack on a spectator at the Shanghai Rolex Masters. There have been many violations during his short career, and he has also previously been fined for his questionable on-court gestures. Despite his reputation in the game, he is hugely talented and possesses one of the most effective serves on the circuit. He previously reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, and is priced up at 25/1 in the latest tennis odds for this year’s tournament at SW19.

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick
via Keith Allison / CC-BY-SA-2.0

Bill Belichick is widely considered to be the greatest football coach in the history of the game, but despite leading the Patriots to an unprecedented six Super Bowl titles, he will also be remembered for a number of controversial incidents, which have partly tarnished his reputation.

Belichick resigned after just one day in charge of the New York Jets to take up his current position with the Patriots, and there is still a heated rivalry between the pair as a result. His most publicised scandal was dubbed Spygate, and saw the experienced coach fined for illegally videotaping the Jets defensive signals. He later accepted responsibility for the charade, and swiftly paid the $500,000 fine.

The Patriots were once again making the wrong headlines courtesy of Deflategate. The NFL’s investigation, relating to under-inflated balls, took twelve months to conclude. The franchise were hit with a huge financial penalty and their reputation was further tarnished by the incident.

Ronnie O’Sullivan

The Rocket is generally regarded as one of the most entertaining and talented snooker players on the circuit, but the Essex-born competitor isn’t the sort of the player to stay away from the media spotlight for long. Aside from describing the venue for the UK Open as “a hellhole”, he’s also been caught on camera making a number of inappropriate comments.

In 2010, he actively refused to pot the black at the World Open in Glasgow, as there was no extra cash for completing a maximum break. He’s regularly flouted the dress code, and will always be remembered for playing left-handed when taking on Canadian Alan Robidoux back in 1996. He is regularly known for playing mind games, and his 2005 UK Championship will always be remembered for its comic undertones. O’Sullivan sat with a wet towel draped over his head for large portions of the game. He was eventually defeated 9-8 by Mark King.

Sport needs characters, and these three divisive personalities could be credited with helping the game attract wider interest. They may struggle to stay away from the headlines, but they add plenty of color to their respective disciplines, and the game would be much duller without their presence.