How Well Do You Know The Most Controversial Calls in Sports History?


By: Gavin Thagard

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Was that a touchdown or a fumble? Some controversial sports calls leave us with questions like this for years. How much do you remember about those calls, though? Here's a quiz where you can find out exactly how much you do remember!

No one wants the referee to decide the outcome of a game, but more times than we care for, that's the case. After all, sports require rules, and the referees are the judges of those rules. Sometimes they get the calls right, and sometimes their calls turn into a huge controversy that people still talk about years later, even after the players have left the game and grown old. I guess you never really let go. 

Are you a sports fanatic who knows all of the most controversial sports calls? Do you still get riled up thinking that incomplete pass was actually a catch or that the runner actually touched the base when he was called out? If you think you know all of the controversial sports calls, then try out this quiz. 

Make sure you are ready before you take it, however, because the outcome of this quiz will not be controversial. If you're up for the challenge, then go ahead and get started! 

Which USC player pushed Matt Leinart into the end zone in a 2005 college football game against Notre Dame?

In college football, a player is not allowed to run in and push the pile. It seems like Reggie Bush didn't get the memo and neither did the referees.


In the 2002 NFL Playoffs, the referees​ called ineligible receiver downfield at the end of a game between the Giants and the 49ers. What call was missed?

After the game was over, the referees immediately realized their mistake and admitted it. The game was over, however, and the Giants lost.


The Lakers shot 27 free throws in the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals against which team?

The NBA has always been surrounded in controversy because many people believe the games are fixed. This game just adds fuel to the fire because Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal were stars on the Lakers, a storied franchise. No one wanted the Kings in the Finals, except the Kings.


Who was called safe on first base in Game 3 of the 1977 NLCS between the Dodgers and the Phillies which later gave the Dodgers the win?

The Dodgers would go on to win the series against the Phillies before facing the Yankees in the World Series. The Dodgers lost World Series 4-2.


Which NFL teams were playing when referee Phill Luckett called the wrong side of the coin flip in overtime on Thanksgiving Day?

Jerome Bettis supposedly called both "heads" and "tails" during the coin flip, and Phill Luckett went with the first thing he called. Bettis and the Steelers lost the coin toss then lost the game. Bettis claims he never said "heads."


Mike Renfro played for which NFL team when his touchdown catch in the 1979 AFC Championship was ruled incomplete when clearly it wasn't?

Mike Renfro was called out of bounds in the end zone on a play that would have tied the game against the Steelers. Instead, the Steelers went on to win that game as well as the Super Bowl.


In the 2003 BCS National Championship game, Ohio State beat Miami in overtime after which call on fourth down against Miami?

Miami had a dominant college football program that lasted from the 1980s until the early 2000s. However, the dynasty​ fell off after that, and this game was the last time they reached the National Championship.


Who should have won the 100-meter freestyle event in the 1960 Rome Olympics?

All of the timers had Lance Larson winning this race against John Devitt, but the judges called a tie with a final vote going to Devitt. Larson still walked away from the 1960 Olympics with two gold medals and one silver medal.


Which Braves' player was pushed off base then tagged out during Game 1 of the 1991 World Series?

Braves fans everywhere swear that Ron Gant was pushed off first base by Kent Hrbek. You can't tell Hrbek that, though, because he'll swear Gant fell off the base.


The Music City Miracle's final play was controversial because of what?

Most people now agree that it was not a forward lateral pass that helped the Titans win the game. You can't tell that to Buffalo fans, though.


Who was called safe on first base for the Royals in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series against the Cardinals?

The Cardinals were winning the game when Orta was called safe in the ninth inning. The Royals not only won this game after the blown call, forcing a Game 7, they also went on to win the World Series 4-3.


Which quarterback is associated with the "Tuck" rule?

People may think Tom Brady fumbled the ball against the Raiders in the 2002 AFC Divisional Playoff game, but the rule says it wasn't a fumble. Now, 16 years later, Brady has five Super Bowl wins, the first of which came after this controversial call.


In the 1986 FIFA World Cup, who completed the "Hand of God" play?

During this play, Maradona used his hand to control the ball before scoring the goal, which is illegal in soccer. The penalty wasn't called, and Argentina went on to defeat England 2-1.


Who won the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff game with the "Immaculate Reception"?

The "Immaculate Reception" happened against the Raiders. This started a bitter rivalry between the two teams that lasted throughout the '70s and '80s.


Whose perfect game was ruined in 2010 by umpire Jim Joyce?

This was one of the worst slights in baseball history. After the game, Jim Joyce gave a tearful apology, but it was a little too late.


In 2012, replacement referees gave the Seahawks a touchdown that should have been called an interception against which team?

When a defensive player and an offensive player have control of the ball, it's supposed to go to the offensive player. At least, that's usually the case unless you're the Seahawks trying to defeat the Packers in 2012.


Which Rockies' player was called safe even though he didn't touch home base in a 2007 sudden-death game with the Padres?

This controversial call happened on the final play of the game. It also sent the Rockies to the playoffs and the Padres home.


Which team was accidentally given a fifth down in a 1990 college football game against Missouri?

It would seem that not all referees can count. At least, the referees couldn't in 1990 when Colorado defeated Missouri because they were given a fifth down.


Muhammad Ali threw the supposed "phantom punch" against which opponent?

Many people believe Sonny Liston had ties to betting rings and threw this fight because he was in debt. Nonetheless, Ali won the fight with a knockout in the first round.


Which Lions' wide receiver had his game-winning catch called incomplete in a week 1 game in 2010 against the Bears?

This catch started a long debate over what exactly is a catch. Clearly, Calvin Johnson caught the ball, which the rules committee would later admit.


In the 19th inning of a 2011 game between the Braves and the Pirates, which Braves' player was called safe at home plate despite being tagged out?

Not many MLB games go 19 innings, but when they do, everyone is exhausted, including the referees. When that happens, it seems like some calls are made just to get out of there.


In the 1966 World Cup Final, England beat West Germany on a goal many believed shouldn't have counted. What was the final score of the game?

England won this World Cup in their home country, adding to the controversy. It was England's first World Cup title.


In Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS, Derek Jeter hit a home run that should have been called what?

Jeter's home run was caught by a kid in the outfield before outfielder Tony Tarasco had a chance to catch it. In the rules of the game, Jeter should have been called out. Instead, the Yankees were given the score.


Which soccer team is associated with the "Hand of Frog" play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup?

This defeat kept Ireland out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. There was also a demand that the game be replayed, which never happened.


Who defeated the U.S. on the last play of the 1972 Olympic Basketball Gold Medal Game?

In the middle of the Cold War, this game between the United States and the Soviet Union was riddled with fuel. However, when the United States mistakenly thought they had won the game, things got even more heated because the Soviet Union still had three seconds, which they took advantage of to win the game.


Who were the Cowboys playing in the 2014 NFL Playoffs when Dez Bryant's catch was ruled incomplete?

Almost no one believed that Dez Bryant's catch wasn't a catch, unless you're a Green Bay fan. Years later, the rules committee finally admitted they got that call wrong.


Which team returned a field goal for a touchdown against Alabama in 2013 when Coach Nick Saban demanded the referees fix the clock by putting one second on it?

OK, this call was more Nick Saban's fault than the referees'. Still, Alabama fans have been scratching their heads for years after they lost the game.


Who was called for tagging out Jose Offerman in the 1999 ACLS despite being several feet away?

This game only added fuel to the rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. The Yankees won the series 4-1.


Who defeated Roy Jones Jr. in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul?

Roy Jones Jr. destroyed Park Si-Hun during this match. However, Si-Hun was given the win in one of the most controversial calls in Olympic history.


What did the referees mistake for the football when Vinny Testaverde scored a game-winning touchdown for the Jets against the Seahawks in 1998?

Known as the "Phantom Touchdown," this score helped the Jets defeat the Seahawks 32-31. Many people credit it with helping bring about instant replay.


Which Rockies' player was wrongly called out in a 2012 game against the Dodgers by umpire Tim Welke?

This call didn't decide a World Series, but it was still important for baseball, mainly because it continued to push the debate for instant replay in the sport.


For which NFL team did Bert Emanuel play when the Bert Emanuel Rule began?

The Bert Emanuel rule stated that the ball could touch the ground as long as the player catching the ball maintained control the entire time. Of course, like most things, that rule only got more complicated as time went on.


What team defeated the Patriots in the 1976 NFL Playoffs because Patriots' player Ray Hamilton was called for roughing the passer?

The Raiders would go on to win the Super Bowl that year. It was the first win of the Raiders' dynasty in the '70s and '80s.


Which Marlins' pitcher was given a ridiculously wide strike zone against Braves' batter Fred McGriff in the 1997 NLCS?

There are some pitches so far outside of the batter's box that it's impossible to hit the ball. That's why they're called "no ball." Of course, all pitchers aren't called the same, but still, Hernandez threw pitches almost a foot outside of the batter's box. No one's hitting that.


In the 1977 AFC Championship game, whose fumble wasn't called a fumble, costing the Raiders a chance at the Super Bowl?

Though the Broncos won this game, they lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl 27-10. This shows that everything ends up fair in the end, at least if you're a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.


Explore More Quizzes

About Zoo

Our goal at is to keep you entertained in this crazy life we all live.

We want you to look inward and explore new and interesting things about yourself. We want you to look outward and marvel at the world around you. We want you to laugh at past memories that helped shape the person you’ve become. We want to dream with you about all your future holds. Our hope is our quizzes and articles inspire you to do just that.

Life is a zoo! Embrace it on