Sports people are role models, so goes the consensus, but things don’t always play out that way in the heat of battle. As recently as Thursday we saw Bryson DeChambeau delivering an act of petulance at the Open Championship which drew the ire of his equipment supplier.
He’s far from the first athlete to have thrown a fairly public temper tantrum, and no doubt he won’t be the last. But the golfer will have to go a long way to trump some of sport’s most notorious or plain crazy strops from down the years.
First let’s remind you of what DeChambeau has been up to at Royal St George’s. Links golf is played on the coastline and The Open is renowned for windy conditions. Poor Bryson was struggling to effectively use the conditions to his advantage and shot a one-over-par round of 71 to leave himself seven off the pace after the first round. He made his frustrations known by saying that his driver “sucks”, leading his equipment supplier, Cobra, to accuse him of “acting like an eight-year-old.”
The US golfer later apologised for his behaviour but the damage has been done, and his public image will have taken a hit thanks to his tantrum.
The seven-time Grand Slam winner was known as ‘Superbrat’ at the time of this particular incident and it still sets the bar as one of the biggest sporting strops of all-time. Playing on Wimbledon’s Number One court, the American was unhappy about a line call and he began to remonstrate with the umpire. His line is still iconic to this day: “You can’t be serious, man, YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS.”
McEnroe was the eventual winner of that tournament but he was initially refused Wimbledon club membership as a result of his behaviour – the first and only time this has happened.
Paolo Di Canio
The West Ham United attacker was not very happy when he had three penalty appeals turned down in a home game against Bradford City, and, with his side 4-2 down, the fed-up Italian sat down in front of manager Harry Redknapp by the dugout and demanded to be substituted as the game continued around him. Bradford nearly extended their lead while Paolo was sat sulking, but he was eventually persuaded to continue after a cajoling from Redknapp and a rendition of his name from the West Ham fans. Naturally, Di Canio scored the next goal from the penalty spot, wrestling the ball from the grasp of regular taker Frank Lampard before slotting home what proved to be a key strike in a 5-4 comeback win. Irrepressible!
The manager of minor league baseball side Mississippi Braves kicked off massively when he was unhappy about a decision in a game away to the Chattanooga Lookouts. Wellman started by ranting at the umpire, which is all very much standard for a baseball skipper, but that was just the start of it. After kicking dirt onto home plate until the dish was entirely covered, Wellman went on to draw out the umpire’s strike zone in the dirt before charging over to third base, lifting up the bag and throwing it into the outfield.
Was he done? No way!
Next up, the riled manager crawled on his belly up to the pitching mound and then tossed the rosin bag used by pitchers to temper sweat at the home-plate umpire. Ready to finally make his exit, he picked up two bases, stuck them under his arms and marched off to the exit door in right field. Truly astonishing scenes.
In 2011, the England cricketer was run out during a Test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s. and the fervent wicketkeeper was far from happy as he walked off. He contained his rage all the way back to the pavilion, whereupon he threw his bat to the ground, causing it to bounce off another bat and into a window, which shattered at once, with shards of glass dropping onto nearby spectators – slightly injuring one. Like a child being led by a disappointed parent to the neighbour’s house after smashing a window with a ball, his captain Andrew Strauss told Prior to apologise to the spectator, and it is an incident he has never been allowed to forget.
In a Chicago Bulls game in 1996, the notorious Dennis Rodman was ejected in the first quarter after his second technical foul with 1:31 left of the opening period. Before leaving the court, he went over to referee Ted Bernhardt, giving him a proper ear-full before laying a head-butt on him. Rodman then ripped off his jersey, threw it to the court and pushed over a cooler near the opposition bench before running to the locker room. Following his actions, Rodman was fined $20,000 and suspended for six games. And that was one of his quieter days at the office…!