Professional sports teams aren't always the most forward thinking or lenient when it comes to team rules. In fact, some can be downright silly or weird. Others can be restrictive and prevent athletes from exhibiting their personalities while performing their jobs. From rules mandating facial hair to weight restrictions enforced by teams, professional athletes have a lot of rules they must obey to stay employed. Yet those rules seem quite simple and reasonable compared to other directives dictated by teams. Do teams really need their players to wear suits or even the same coloured cleats on game day?
Of course plenty of fans and team executives will see the rules as important. Players not only make a healthy salary, but they get to live a lifestyle experienced by few other people. Following a few rules shouldn't be too difficult for some professional sports stars, right? No matter how important, weird or just pathetic, the 15 rules that follow have all been used by professional sports teams. Some have been implemented to keep an entire squad in line, while others are specific for certain players. Regardless, these have been used for a number of reasons, while the jury is still out on if they add to a team's success.
15 John Lackey's "Tommy John" Clause
John Lackey is a three-time World Series winner with the Anaheim Angels, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. Despite his pitching success, Lackey has faced a number of arm injuries. When the Red Sox signed Lackey for $82.5 million in 2010, the club placed a clause in his contract that would give them an additional option year if Lackey missed an entire season due to injury. The most significant part of the option year was the league minimum salary of $500,000 the team would have to pay him. Two seasons after signing with the Red Sox, Lackey missed the 2012 season thanks to Tommy John surgery. He came back strong, however, helping Boston to win the World Series in 2013. In mid-2014, Lackey was traded to St. Louis and at the season's conclusion, the Cardinals activated his "Tommy John" clause for 2015. The team threw in some incentives and bonuses to go with his league minimum salary. Lackey went 13-10 with a career low 2.77 ERA.
14 Don't Walk On The Logo
John Tortorella coached the New York Rangers from 2009 until he was fired in the spring of 2013. During that time, Tortorella recorded a .583 points percentage. Until current coach Alain Vigneault took over, it was the highest points percentage tallied by a Rangers coach since 1994 when Mike Keenan had a .667 points percentage. Keenan led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup in his lone year in charge. Tortorella had success, but he also had one important rule he enforced as the team's leader. That rule? No player or staff shall have direct contact with the team's logo. If players walked over, or even skated directly over the Rangers logo, Tortorella would become furious. In a 2009 interview, Tortorella explained, "I just don't think you should do that. I don't think you walk on a logo anywhere. So, yeah, that's the way it's going to be."
13 Social Media Restrictions
When Italian soccer star and bad boy Mario Balotelli signed for AC Milan in 2013, he had already gained a reputation for the absurd. During his time with Manchester City, Balotelli had got into a physical altercation with coach Roberto Mancini. He had also set his house on fire as he shot fireworks from its windows. His performances for Milan were dynamic in the beginning, but waned shortly thereafter. He left in 2014, but having a soft spot for the player, the team welcomed him back with a set of new rules imposed on him. In 2015 Milan put stipulations into his contract stating the club would supervise his social media activity. The Italian goal scorer was also forbidden from having "outrageous" haircuts. In addition, the club monitored Balotelli's alcohol consumption, as it tried to help the one-time mercurial talent re-discover his best form. It didn't work in his second spell with the team, as Balotelli scored just one goal in 20 games. The team said arrivederci in 2016.
12 Weight Clause
It isn't abnormal for a professional sports team to have a weight clause inserted into a professional's contract. In the case of baseball player Carlos Lee, the big-league slugger's weight fluctuated for years. For a time, teams looked the other way as he hit 30 or more home runs in 10 MLB seasons. By his mid-30s however, the Houston Astros were growing tired of the 270-pound player's weight. Despite his heft, the Astros didn't seem to be too strict on him losing the weight. They ended up trading him to the Marlins in July 2012. The WWE also had a similar clause in the Big Show's contract. The massive grappler was even sent to WWE development territory, Ohio Valley Wrestling, to shed some weight in the early 2000s. He came back looking better, but like other athletes, Big Show has still struggled with his weight over the years.
11 Fined By The Pound
The NFL also fines players for being overweight. This season, players can be fined $630 for every pound in excess. Luckily for some offensive linemen, teams cannot fine a player more than twice in one week. However players can still be charged for being overweight eight times in a month. The weight is calculated by each team's staff and medical personnel. Therefore, each player's target weight is different. The amount of money a player can be fined in a week can be quite high, so it is important NFL personnel keep their waistlines trim. Or at least, trim enough to keep from being fined. For some positions, like offensive linemen, the weight clause can be almost a contradiction. Players are expected to be big and physically strong to protect their quarterbacks. However, they must also keep the scales from tipping too far in the wrong direction.
10 Baseball Players Must Hide Tobacco Products
There was a time when it wasn't uncommon to see MLB players with black tobacco juice running down their chins. Images of former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies centre fielder Lenny Dykstra are iconic due to the amount of tobacco he would keep in his mouth during games. Today, MLB has a different stance towards all varieties of tobacco products and baseball players. No longer are players, managers or coaches allowed to have dip in their lip during television interviews. In addition, players cannot keep chew in their pants pockets or put in a dip when in sight of fans. It is a much different view than 30 years ago when players and coaches would load their lips with tobacco on camera or in front of fans. There was even a time when former Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland would smoke in the dugout during games. Those days are over and baseball is much better for it.
9 NHL Players Must Abstain From Alcohol
According to the current NHL collective agreement with the players' union, there is no drinking of alcohol on flights. That isn't all, as NHL players are not allowed to order an alcoholic drink at airports, restaurants or hotels while on the road. Of course, this rule can be relaxed if a team's head coach or general manager give the ok. However, a losing streak or hard nosed NHL head coach could veto any team's chances of sipping beers or wine while flying to the next city. The good news is, compared to the average American or Canadian at airports, NHL players have it much easier. Teams check in at the hockey arena before boarding a bus for the airport. Players don't have the time at the airport to get bored. Nor do players need to kill time by having one too many beers before flights. Once at the hotel, players have regular routines to keep them away from the bars.
8 No Pick-Up Basketball Games
It seems like a no-brainer that a millionaire star NBA player should stay away from playing hoops with friends. However, that doesn't always seem to happen. In August 2017, Memphis Grizzlies player Ben McLemore broke his foot in a pick-up basketball game. The $11 million a year player's foot break was so bad, he was forced to have surgery on it. Many NBA player contracts state that players are not allowed to play in pick-up games. The Chicago Bulls explicitly told Michael Jordan he wasn't to play games outside of Bulls games during the 1990s. Jordan got his own clause in his famous contract that allowed him to play ball when he wanted. It was called the "love of the game" clause. Jordan may have been an exception, but most NBA teams have enforced no pick-up games rules on their players for quite some time.
7 NBA Players Fly First Class (Sometimes)
The NBA has some very tall players. Therefore, it isn't very comfortable getting crammed into coach for a cross-country flight. Due to their size and needing comfort, NBA players are allowed to fly first class if flights are over an hour long. The leg space can help save a player like Kevin Durant or Zaza Pachulia from injury. However, coaches are allowed to bump their players from first class, according to the fine print. If eight players are flying in first class, a coach can force everyone else into coach; and take a player's seat. The good news for the player who gets bumped is he can be reimbursed the difference in the price of the tickets. The rule isn't the worst that can be enforced by NBA coaches, and in the end it can also be a win-win for players.
6 MLS Teams Must Fly Commercial
It is rare to go to the airport and board a flight with a seat next to an NBA, NFL, MLB or NHL star. However, in the United States' and Canada's Major League Soccer, it can happen often. The league, which is run like a dictatorship in which MLS controls most aspects of their player's contracts, forces players to fly commercial. They don't even get to fly first class, and each soccer star is crammed into economy. Reports indicate that many of MLS's older owners, who don't want to invest in their teams, want to keep the rule alive and well. Meanwhile there are newer owners that want to scrap the rule that has been in place since the league opened in 1996. How bad are the flying conditions in MLS? In 2008, the New England Revolution was flying cross country when a passenger, who took off all his clothes, attempted to open the emergency exit. The players and team staff had to restrain the man as the plane made an emergency landing in Oklahoma.
5 Marlins Facial Hair Policy
Don Mattingly was one of the all-time New York Yankee greats. As a player, Mattingly had a career .307 batting average, .358 on-base percentage and cranked out 222 home runs. He also sported a seriously sweet moustache throughout his career. As a manager, Mattingly has tallied a .532 win percentage while plying his trade in the dugouts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Miami Marlins clubs. It was his move to the Marlins that saw Mattingly do something more akin to George Steinbrenner. The Marlins manager imposed on the club a no facial hair rule. The policy was adopted by the organization following Mattingly's hiring, and most likely reflect the club's desire to move away from the gross hipster beards being worn by many of big leaguers today. The clean look has done little to improve the team on the field. The Marlins haven't had a season above .500 since 2009. The team did lift the ban ahead of the 2017 season as, in Mattingly's words, it was a "pain in the @$$" to enforce.
4 Patriots Must Wear Numbered Jerseys
In 2016, the NFL enforced a rule on the New England Patriots, rather than the team on its players. For years, head coach Bill Belichick had his players wear non-numbered jerseys during summer practices. The NFL put a stop to Belichick's routine. The NFL now forces all players to wear numbered jerseys during organized team activities. The rule is another 'no fun' ruling by the NFL. The idea behind Belichick's no numbered jerseys was to improve communication. Without seeing a number to identify who a player was, it encouraged communication between players. Belichick had learned the practice tactic from Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll. The tactic saw Noll win four Super Bowls during his time as an NFL coach.
3 New York Yankees Appearance Policy
The most traditional sports team in America, the New York Yankees have been wearing the same colours and pinstriped uniforms since the days of Babe Ruth. In 1973, after seeing his players wear hairstyles that obscured their numbers, new team owner George Steinbrenner instituted the club's famous - and infamous - appearance policy. According to Yankee lore, after seeing shaggy, unkempt beards and long hair, Steinbrenner stated: "All players, coaches and male executives are forbidden to display any facial hair other than moustaches (except for religious reasons), and scalp hair may not be grown below the collar. Long sideburns and ‘mutton chops’ are not specifically banned." According to many baseball insiders, there are players uninterested in joining the Yankees due to the appearance policy still being active in 2017.
2 New York Jets Players Must Wear Suits
The Jets aren't the only NFL team that has to wear suits and ties on game day, but the team is an example of the archaic rule that NFL teams and NBA teams must adhere to. In 2015, the Jets won against Indianapolis on Monday Night Football. It was a surprise win, and to reward the team, players were allowed to wear sweats and tracksuits on the flight home. Teams want their players to showcase a certain image. The image is typical of high-priced athletes that should be treated like businessmen, or at least dress like them. The NFL's dress code on the field is even more stringent, and players shouldn't even consider trying to do something to stand out from the pack. The Carolina Panthers made headlines when coach Ron Rivera benched starting quarterback Cam Newton in 2016 for his style. Newton was apparently not conforming to the NFL or team's policy of dressing in a "professional manner". The Panthers were spanked by Seattle, 40-7.
1 Chicago White Sox Ban Players' Children From Clubhouse
In the spring of 2016, veteran Chicago White Sox player Adam LaRoche retired from the game. His retirement would have gone unnoticed by many, if it hadn't been due to a new rule the White Sox had instituted that spring. LaRoche had taken his teenage son on the road with him during the entire 2015 MLB season. According to MLB.com, Drake LaRoche was like another member of the team. He even had his own locker at the White Sox's US Cellular Field. However, the White Sox front office placed new restrictions on Drake, which would have limited his time in the clubhouse around the players in 2016. Due to the restrictions, LaRoche walked away from a $13 million yearly salary, choosing to retire instead to spend time with his son. The rest of the team attempted to go on strike, but it was quelled quickly. In the end, LaRoche stayed retired, and the White Sox got players to leave their children at home.