Sports rulebooks can be VERY dense and complicated, because they have to account for every possible scenario. And naturally, some strange rules and conditions have made their way into them.
"USA Today" put together a list of 13 bizarre rules in sports. Here are nine highlights:
1. NFL Rule 11-3-2 - The 'One-Point Safety': It IS possible to score a single point in a football game, although it's a big longshot. It happens when there's a safety on an extra-point attempt, which results in ONE point for the tackling team. It has happened a couple of times in college, but it has never happened in the NFL.
(Here's an example. Technically, a one-point safety can be scored against the kicking team, too, but the ball would have to somehow travel all the way back to the other end zone, which is ridiculously unlikely.)
2. NFL Rule 3-8 - The 'Drop Kick': Instead of kicking an extra point normally, a player CAN take the snap and drop the ball on the ground and KICK it off the short hop through the uprights . . . ideally. Doug Flutie successfully did it at the end of the 2005 season, mostly as a joke. Before that, it hadn't been converted since 1941.
3. MLB Rule 7.05 - No Hat Catches: A player is not allowed a catch a ball in his hat. If he does, even on the simplest fly ball to center, the batter is awarded THREE bases.
4. NFL Rule 11-4-3 - The 'Fair Catch Kick': If a punt returner calls for a fair catch, the receiving team then has the option of attempting an undefended field-goal from the spot where the ball was caught.
But this just doesn't happen. It's been over 40 years since it worked. The San Francisco 49ers attempted one in 2013 . . . it was a 71-yard kick . . . but it failed.
5. NHL Rule 60.3 - The 'Blood Rule': High-sticking is a minor penalty that sends players to the penalty box for two minutes. But if the high-sticking causes INJURY, refs can assess a double-minor, which means FOUR minutes in the box. So what constitutes an "injury?" Basically . . . blood.
6. NCAA Basketball Rule 4-1 - No Dunking Before the Game. When the final 20-minute countdown begins before tip-off, players are no longer allowed to dunk. A Kansas State player got whistled for it a few years ago.
If you do, you can get a technical, even though the game hasn't started. Other little-known reasons for technicals include: "face-guarding," "climbing or lifting a teammate," "attempting a free throw that's not yours to take," and "possessing or using tobacco."
7. MLB Rule 2.00 - The 'Up-the-Middle Foul Ball': A line-drive up the middle CAN be a foul ball if it slams into the pitching rubber, and caroms into foul territory WITHOUT being touched by a fielder. That makes sense logically . . . but it's hard to imagine that ever happening on a hot shot up the middle.
8. European Chess Union Regulation 13.2: 'No Cleavage': Back in 2012, the European Chess Union announced that women wearing shirts or blouses may only have, quote, "the second from the top button" open during competition.
It's basically an anti-cleavage rule. But in the new edition of the rules, there's no mention of the "second from the top button" nonsense, so apparently they quietly got rid of it.
9. Golf Rule 23-10 - The Fruit Shot: If your ball is "embedded" inside a piece of fruit, you must play the ball / fruit as it lies. If your ball lands in a bunker, directly in front of an apple core, the apple core is considered a 'natural' object and can't be removed without penalty.
It doesn't matter if there are apple trees in the vicinity, or if it was left there by another golfer.
BUT if your ball lands on or next to a candy wrapper, you're allowed to remove the candy wrapper, even if you have to pick up your ball to remove it, because a candy wrapper is man-made and not natural.
(Hit up USAToday.com for the whole list.)