Sporting dominance that caused the game to be changed

I am going to need a cite for that rule about one foot in front of the ball. Sam Snead used to putt with both feet to the left of and slightly behind the ball. I know that is PGA and not USGA, but I think this is still legal. Also it is legal to reach across the hole to tap in a putt, which would cause both feet to be either in front of or behind the ball. The rule simply states that you cannot putt from astride the ball or with either foot on the line of the putt.

Off topic, but you reminded me of UCLA softball pitcher Tanya Harding (not to be confused, of course, with ice skater and knee-whacker-orderer Tonya Harding). Tanya led UCLA to the softball National Championship in 1995 - a championship which was later voided due to a number of NCAA violations she was probably at the heart of. But what makes her story so similar to Deion’s is that she arrived at UCLA on March 22nd, 1995, went 17-1 as their starting pitcher (after having missed the first 20 games of the season) and then quit school and went back to her native Australia ten weeks later - just 2 days after the National Championship game - without having taken any finals… and quite possibly without having ever attended a single class.

Here’s a Sports Illustrated story about her from '95, before the title was vacated.

The Blue Jays use the shift so much, it’s actually playing havoc with sabermetricians’ ability to calculate their defensive stats. At the end of June, Baseball Reference already had Brett Lawrie as having put up a better defensive year than any full season Brooks Robinson ever had. They’ve fixed it since (he’s great but not superhuman) but what was happening, basically, is that Lawrie was shifted over to the second base side so often he was making all kinds of plays that were outside of a defensive zone he wasn’t actually playing. He was being credited for making sensational catches on ground balls that were hit right at him.

We’re going to see more shifting, I believe. We’re just now seeing it done with righthanded batters for the first time.

Guess I’m wrong. Oops.

While Wilt has been mentioned, nobody has commented on his affecting the size of the lane. Because of him, the lane between the foul line and the out of bounds line behind the basket was widened.

They outlawed spitballs and other doctored balls because they were too hard to hit around 1920.

Forward passes used to be illegal in American football. It was legalized in 1906 primarily because the game with no passing had become too brutal. Apparently forward passes had been done before though according to Wiki

The flying wedge and other mass plays were made illegal in 1894 fir similar reasons.

Kickoffs used to be made from the 40. They moved that back to the 35 and then the 30 to encourage run backs after soccer style kickers were kicking touchbacks too often. They’ve since moved it back up to the 35 to cut down on them.

An almost unnoticeable but crucial rule change is that the kicker may have his plant foot in front of the kick and not be offside. Many if not most kickers now do this with soccer-style kicks. That used to be offside and soccer-style kicks for kick offs were much harder.

Not a single individual, but there’s the small group of U.S. swimmers who first used the butterfly stroke, at the time a legal variant of the breast stroke. It was so dominating, Swimming had to create races just for the butterfly and ban it from the breast stroke races.
Do individuals who were so un-dominating at one thing that rules changed count for the OP? Shaquille O’Neil was poor enough at free throws that teams adopted a hack-a-Shaq strategy of deliberately fouling him at the end of games (even when he didn’t have the ball), as a way to get the ball back without giving up too many points. The NBA changed the rules on how they dealt with away-from-the-ball fouls at the end of games because of this.

They were also hard to dodge. When Roy Chapman was killed by an inside pitch in 1920, the spitball and its unsanitary cousins were irreconcilably on their way out.

If Jeff Pearlstein is to be believed, Deion was just the same in the NFL- he blew off meetings regularly and slept or goofed off in the ones he DID attend. He figured (CORRECTLY!) that he didn’t need to listen to the coaches or study film. HIS job, as he saw it, was to shut down the other team’s primary receiver, and as a rule, he DID just that. So, to his way of thinking, he had nothing else to learn from coaches.

The good news for the Cowboys was that Deion was SO fast and SO talented that he could (and did) get away with that kind of attitude.

The bad news was that his attitude was contageous, and he served as a role model for guys who weren’t nearly as fast or talented. Deion could goof off all week and still play lockdown corner on Sundays. His teammates NEEDED to study, and often didn’t, because… hey, DEION didn’t study, so it couldn’t be that important.

IMO, that is a myth. Courses were lengthen to counter the better technology. In golf balls and equipment.

The Titleist Pro V1 and its cousins forced the change.


The NHL power play rule was changed in the 1950’s.

There are probably better citations but here it is.

In addition to being one of (if not the) best football players ever, Jim Brown is also considered by many to be the best lacrosse player ever. His dominance prompted rules changes imposing a minimum length of a stick and the requirement that the ball be kept away from the body. Apparently Brown used a stick with a 6" handle and he would grip the stick with his thumb over the ball and held against his chest and simply run through/over anyone between him and the goal.

Perhaps I don’t understand what you mean by a “league system,” but in the United States, the rise of a single, dominant, top-level professional league with a limited number of stable (no relegation/promotion) clubs has coincided with the phenomenal success of professional sports since the 1950s.

The NBA made defensive rules much stricter after the Pistons won their last championship. Their run of keeping opponents under 70 points was considered less than entertaining.

A similar situation to ski jumping - javelins were redesigned because athletes were almost throwing them beyond the field and onto the track. No one competitor was responsible though.

Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson had the same stellar academic record at Oregon State (Dennis Erickson’s recruiting standards were a tad flexible). He arrived from junior college, played a season for the Beavers, and immediately declared for the NFL draft, and admitted later he never entered a classroom.

However, stories like these aren’t quite in the spirit of the OP. There have always been rules about college athletes maintaining academic eligibility. They’re just not always observed.

I’m interested on more info in this. Couldn’t find anything on Wikipedia.

After Roy Williams (the safety, not the receiver) was drafted into the NFL, his horse-collar tackling was so brutal that he injured several players, including breaking Terrell Owens’ leg in 2004. The next season, the NFL made that tackle illegal, the so-called “Roy Williams Rule”.

Just to follow up - the NBA widened the free throw lane from 6 feet to 12 feet (due to Mikan), and they widened it another 4 feet, to 16, in 1962 (Chamberlain).

If I recall (I was a bit young), back in the 1970’s there was also a flurry of rule changes designed to limit the way one could tackle legally. Clothes-lining (a fave play of Dick “Night Train” Lane) and head-slapping/bell-ringing (a favorite of Deacon Jones) were banned because of those players (and others’) use of them.

I have a vague memory that a rule change was required. Or at least some track&field officials thought the Flop was illegal. However, the wiki page on the Flop doesn’t mention this, so perhaps my memory is mistaken.

The first African-American superstar was Major Taylor, a bicycle sprinter. I remember reading that he was so dominant that at one point, his compeditors got the format of some races changed. The change was from 2 racers/race to 4 racers/race. This allowed the other three riders to collude to boxing him in and preventing him from riding as fast as he wanted to. The impetus for this change was racism, rather than to make the races fairer, so perhaps is not the kind of change the OP is looking for.