Everybody loves a good prank (minus the victims of said prank) and for one reason or another, athletes and sports fans seem to be among the best pranksters. The reason for this isn't too difficult to surmise: Sports are fun and pranks are fun, so combining the two just makes sense. Below I've compiled a list of some of my favorite sports pranks. I gave preference to those accompanied by video evidence, but as you'll see, sport pranks have been around for about as long as sport itself.
Cal Tech Tricks UW Fans Into Spelling "Cal Tech," and Yale Tricks Harvard Fans Into Spelling "You Suck"
I decided to bunch these two together since they're in essence the same prank, but both are impressively executed in their own right. To the 1 percent's credit, they seem to be pretty good at organizing elaborate ruses.
Pete Carroll Has a Player Fake Arrested
Pete Carroll, current happy-go-lucky coach of the Seahawks, used to be the happy-go-lucky coach of the USC Trojans. But regardless of where he's coaching, Carroll has always been known for pulling pranks on his players -- (in fact, just today he tweeted out a doctored photo of Russell Wilson practicing with the Wisconsin basketball team. Carroll's best prank occurred in 2008, when he convinced the team that star defensive end Everson Griffen was being arrested for "physically abusing a freshman." The mood got really serious until it was revealed who the freshman was: Offensive lineman Matt Meyer, who was plowed over by Griffen during a practice.
Mark Cuban Attacks a Referee
This prank was great because it didn't seem all that farfetched. In the 2000s Mark Cuban almost made a sport out of receiving NBA fines, so why wouldn't he attack a referee? The reaction of then-Mavericks coach Del Harris truly put this one over the top.
Ken Griffey Buys Lou Piniella a Steak Dinner
During the Mariners spring training one year, Griffey and Piniella decided to make a friendly wager:
"It was batting practice, and I had three swings left," Griffey said. "Lou bet me a steak that I couldn't hit a home run to each field on those three swings. I hit one to right and I hit one to center, but I missed the one to left. So I paid up."
Well, Griffey's technically a man of his word.
Kyle Kendrick Gets Traded to Japan
Orchestrated by Phillies pitcher Brett Myers in 2008, this prank involved then 23-year-old Kyle Kendrick being told that he had been traded to the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Central League for a player named "Kobayashi Iwamura." More or less everyone in the organization was in on the prank except Kendrick, who looked like he was about five seconds away from firing his agent.
Jeff Gordon Terrifies Critical Blogger
By my estimation, probably the best prank ever.
The Georgia Tech Train Prank
This prank was perpetrated in 1898, but still holds up today based on cleverness alone:
In the early days of college football, the preferred mode of transportation to away games matched the brawn of its athletes: the iron horse. For about a century, it became Auburn University's mission to reduce this brawn every time Georgia Tech came to town. Students ran grease across the tracks before and after the station platform the night before the game. Catching a greased pig is hard. Catching a greased locomotive is harder. The train flew past the stop year after year, leaving the Auburn opponents with a hefty warm-up as they trekked several miles back to the station.
Danny Woodhead Poses as a Modell's Employee
Because Danny Woodhead has an appearance that much more closely resembles a department store employee than an NFL running back.
Rémi Gaillard Poses As A Soccer Player
French Humorist Rémi Gaillard managed to sneak onto the field to celebrate the 2002 Coupe de France with the victorious players and even shook the hand of then French president Jacques Chirac. What's the french term for "major balls"?
Jimmy Kimmel Tricks Everybody
At the height of #SochiProblems, Jimmy Kimmel pranked more or less the entire country by coordinating the release of a video that appeared to be filmed by U.S. Olympic luger Kate Hansen. The clip, which you may have seen, showed a wolf appearing in the hallway of Hansen's hotel. Given the other things that reporters had tweeted about the accommodations in Sochi, the wolf appearance didn't seem that unbelievable... until Jimmy Kimmel came bounding after it in a full ski suit.
Deion Sanders: Not So Much A Fan of Snakes
It's always fun to watch how fast Deion Sanders was in his prime.
Honorable Mention: Streeter and Amir's Prank War
While these pranks didn't involve athletes, they are truly the stuff of Internet legend, so I would be remiss not to give Streeter and Amir a mention on this list. Below are a few of the pranks that they've played on each other that related to sports, and I can assure you they're all most definitely worth watching.
Yankee Stadium Prank
Half-Court Shot Prank
The Skydiving Prank