Too many fumbles can cause certain aspects of sports to fall into this trope.


  • The Rookie of the Year award in various sports has proven to be a total crapshoot when it comes to predicting future greatness. Many have successful careers, but even more seem to quickly fade into obscurity.
    • Some of Major League Baseball's greatest players were Rookies of the Year, including Willie Mays, Pete Rose, and Tom Seaver. But not all ROYs have gone on to great careers. Anyone remember Pat Listach? Joe Charboneau? Don Schwall?
    • Football's Heisman Trophy has been dubbed "the kiss of death for college players", given how few winners have made it into the Football Hall of Fame.
  • In motor racing, Jacques Villeneuve. The son of the legendary Gilles Villeneuve, he first came to prominence winning the IndyCar Rookie of the Year award in 1994, and went on to win the IndyCar series the following year driving with his Dad's iconic 27 on his car. He moved to Formula 1 in 1996 and was sensationally on pole position for his first race (something only achieved twice before by Mario Andretti and Carlos Reutemann respectively), ahead of his much more experienced team mate Damon Hill. He won his fourth race, suckered Michael Schumacher by overtaking him around the outside in Portugal, and was in the hunt for the championship against Hill until the last race, finishing 2nd. He won the championship the following year in a final race shootout with Schumacher where he was generally applauded after trying an opportunistic overtaking move and leaving Schumacher beached in the gravel when the German tried to block him. Then his career tanked, he ended up struggling in the middle of the pack, he fell out with friends and teammates, and he stopped caring generally. He was finally sacked midway through 2006 due to a string of poor performances. People murmured that he'd lucked into his wins by having the best car and that Schumacher had nearly beaten him in an inferior Ferrari. He then released a music album which also failed. He tried NASCAR and made no impact. Despite all this, he is now in talks in returning to F1 in 2010, and is competing in the Le Mans 24 hours too, aiming to become the second driver since Graham Hill to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport.
  • Ryan Leaf. A Heisman Trophy finalist during his time at Washington State University, he was the second pick in the NFL Draft in 1998, behind Peyton Manning. It was predicted that he would go on to be one of the all-time football greats. Fast forward to today, and he's regarded as one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history, his four-year career being marked by injuries, bad relations with his teammates and fans, and poor performance on the field. His fall was so infamous that, every draft, sports writers speculate on which hot college prospect will become the "next Ryan Leaf" by flopping in the NFL.
  • Ever wonder why association football/soccer has such a vocal hatedom in the United States? This is why. In the early part of the 20th century, when most of the major professional sports leagues on both sides of the Atlantic were in their infancy, the American Soccer League was among them. It was, at one point, the second most popular sports league in the country after Major League Baseball. However, disputes between the ASL and the rival United States Football Association over a number of factors led to a "Soccer War", with FIFA butting in and siding with the USFA over controversy that the ASL was signing players who were under contract to European teams. The Soccer War crippled the ASL, with the league folding at the end of the 1933 season. Worse, while the USFA and FIFA won the war and established their pre-eminence, the spectacle of a US athletic association conspiring with a European organization to undermine its rival alienated many U.S. sports fans by creating an image of soccer as a sport controlled by foreigners, and along with the lack of a professional league that was able to field good players like the ASL did, the events pretty much killed the sport’s popularity for decades.

    Soccer experienced a brief but explosive boom in the United States between the late '70s and the mid '80s with the North American Soccer League, due in thanks to the New York Cosmos, which brought in some of the soccer world's biggest heroes (such as Pele himself and Franz Beckenbauer) to play for them. While financial hardships following Pele’s retirement would eventually lead to the NASL’s folding in 1984, it reintroduced soccer to the North American sports scene on a large scale, and was a major contributing factor in soccer becoming one of the most popular sports among American youth. Along with FIFA giving the US hosting duties in the 1994 World Cup, the improving success of the US Men’s and Women’s National Teams, and the implementation and growing success of Major League Soccer, soccer seems to be on the way to regaining its long-sought Major League status. However, with the ever crowded American sporting landscape from leagues that thrived in soccer’s absence, not to mention the persistent stereotypes of the sport which came about during its "death"[1], it will take time before this can go on the Popularity Polynomial page.


  1. In the modern era, soccer is seen by many Americans as either a "kiddie" or "girly" sport played by adolescents boys and teenage girls with pushy "soccer mom" parents, or one that is dominated by (chiefly Latin American) immigrants.
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