The Astros sign-stealing scandal was one of the most blatant examples of cheating in recent years. MLB confirmed that they cheated in 2017 and 2018. But they still retained their titles. The entire setup was toxic because the players helped create the plan. Fans instantly turned against the franchise. They also condemned Commissioner Rob Manfred for his weak (at best) response. Traveling crowds still bang trashcan lids at games to mock the Astros.
In the end, the team scapegoated GM Jeff Luhnow as well as Coach A.J. Hinch. But the players and the front office were equally culpable (via Sporting News). The Astros even made their way to another World Series in 2021. However, the Atlanta Braves defeated them in a win for the nation. This incident was even more notorious than the Patriots ‘SpyGate’ because it was so blatant.
Sure, the UFC is a promotion and not technically a team. But all of their athletes wear the same uniforms and answer to one boss, Dana White. The UFC is notorious for underpaying its fighters. Sure bigger stars make a lot of money but nowhere near the amounts that boxers earn. UFC defendants claim that their payment structures are more balanced. However, critics accuse the promotion of exploiting their athletes.
E.A. Sports produces a UFC video game every year and uses the fighters’ likenesses. But, the athletes don’t receive any remuneration for this. The promotion announced a deal with a new cryptocurrency partner in 2021. Of course, the fighters didn’t receive a penny. Many people consider this culture toxic and unfair. That’s because the executives make millions of dollars off athletes risking their long-term health (via Irish Times).
The Houston Texans are one of the worst-run franchises in American major sports. A lot of the team’s toxic culture comes from executive Jack Easterby. Allegedly he wields an odd influence over chairman Cal McNair (via Houston Chronicle). The team constantly makes appalling decisions in the front office. These included giving former coach Bill O’Brien far too much power. Meanwhile, they traded away most of their star players.
Finally, DeShaun Watson led a stand against the franchise’s grim culture. The star quarterback was the one shining light in a miserable team. But a dark twist saw dozens of women come forward, accusing him of sexual harassment in massage parlors. The Texans are in a mire and barely treading water.
Crewe is a lower-league English soccer team but they attracted notoriety in 2021. This came after the culmination of an investigation into a 15-year sexual abuse scandal. Barry Bennell was a youth team coach during the 1980s and ’90s but he was also a convicted pedophile. However, Crewe never checked his background. After they hired him, he ran rampant and molested many young boys.
A harrowing 62 survivors gave their accounts of their experiences under the coach. There was also a recognition that high-profile figures at the club failed to act and protect their young athletes. John Bowler, Chairman of Crewe Alexandra, resigned after the review’s toxic findings. Key club figures covered up the horrible events. This was where many of the tragic offenses took place (via Sky Sports).
The Wizards had one of the most toxic locker rooms in basketball during the late 2000s. Multiple big personalities simply couldn’t see eye to eye. Tensions mounted and threatened to erupt. Finally, they did during a card game on a team flight. Javaris Crittenton lost money and wanted to win it back. It turned into a furious argument between him and teammate Gilbert Arenas (via CBS Sports).
Arenas threatened to burn Crittenton in his car. Then the latter said he’d shoot Arenas. Bizarrely, Arenas responded by saying he’d bring the gun for him to do it. He did exactly that and took an unloaded handgun to the team locker room. But he didn’t expect Crittenton to pull out his loaded weapons. The pair had a Mexican standoff until the situation cooled. The NBA hit them with lengthy suspensions and there were also legal consequences.
Urban Meyer turned the Gators into one of the best college teams in the nation. But it wasn’t all sunshine and daisies. That’s because this team took a left turn toward darkness. They became notorious for indiscipline off the field. Meyer coached the team for six years. During that time, law enforcement arrested his players on 31 occasions. That’s a staggering number and one that made him a controversial figure.
Meyer cared about results above everything else. NFL fans saw this at Jacksonville when he brought in Chris Doyle. This came after the University of Iowa fired Doyle for racist language. Healso departed Florida after health issues prevented him from continuing. Later, he took charge of Ohio where there was a toxic backroom. Meyer ignored domestic violence allegations surrounding assistant Zach Smith (via Sports Illustrated).
Few teams manage to be as consistently toxic as Newcastle. The Premier League outfit has one of the biggest fanbases in England. But they are synonymous with mediocrity on the field. A lot of that is down to former owner Mike Ashley. Their fans hated him because he didn’t want to invest millions of dollars in the team. Instead, he preferred to tread water and milk the club for all it was worth (via FourFourTwo).
Fans loathed him and regularly protested because they wanted him to leave. Finally, Ashley managed to sell the team in 2021. Saudi Arabia’s murderous dictator, Muhammad Bin Salman, bought the club. Opposition teams protested because of Bin Salman’s appalling human rights record. But it didn’t matter. In the end, money talks, and the Premier League wanted some of it.
Dan Snyder is arguably the NFL’s biggest villain. He would lower the tone in a sewer because he creates such a toxic work environment. Even when he does something right, it’s for the wrong reasons. Snyder resisted changing the Redskins’ nickname for years. But he finally changed his mind when sponsors threatened to pull out. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg in the nation’s capital.
Snyder’s toxic brand of leadership created chaos. The Washington president infamously tried to get female employees to partake in a swimsuit calendar. Then, over 40 women accused him of workplace discrimination and sexual harrassment. The NFL fined him $10 million and suspended him from team affairs during an investigation into his malpractice (via Wall Street Journal).
The Raiders went through several toxic crises in 2021. First, head coach Jon Gruden’s disgraceful emails emerged and stunned the league. His racist, sexist, and homophobic language sealed the end of his career in Vegas and most likly. Then, receiver and former top draft pick Henry Ruggs III crashed his Corvette into another vehicle, killing the 23-year-old female occupant in the process. It was a harrowing situation.
Of course, human tragedy is the worst element of this. But it was also a major blow on the field. Ruggs was having a breakout season before he ruined his entire life. He faced 20 years in jail after his actions led to another person’s death. Next, they released another former first-round pick from 2020 in cornerback Damon Arnette. A wild video showed Arnette waving guns in a manic manner (via Sporting News) while issuing death threats to an internet troll.