Times Athletes Were Almost Seriously Injured By Event Staff

Live sporting events bring millions of people together. Whether in the audience or at home, watching your favorite athletes pull off a win or seeing an underdog come out on top is always entertaining. When watching sports, you can only count on one thing — the unpredictable. 

Putting together a must-see event like the NBA Finals requires more than just athletes competing. There are usually dozens of staff members responsible for the event running smoothly. From security, to camera operators, to the referees, sporting events involve many moving parts. Despite having all those people aboard, chaos can still erupt during an event. The worst-case scenario for event organizers (and fans) is a star athlete getting injured, especially in a freak accident.

No one wants to see an athlete suffer an injury, especially one that can cause them to not compete. However, sometimes the people on the sidelines, who are hired to keep things running smoothly or document the games, accidentally cause the most damage. In those cases, some athletes take it in stride while others lose their cool. Let's look at these scary live moments with mishaps from event staff. 

Tiger Woods almost suffered an ankle injury

When you're the biggest name in golf, it's no surprise that a crowd forms around you for each round. During the 2019 Masters, fans followed Tiger Woods throughout the course and cheered for every shot. However, the security there made a huge mistake when they almost injured the main attraction. After hitting a tee, the overly excited crowd wanted to celebrate a little too close to the star. A security guard working at the event quickly attempted to contain them but slipped and fell while running behind Woods. While falling, his knee hit Woods' ankle, which caused a slight tweak. 

Woods was seen hobbling away but later assured the anxious reporters that he was totally fine. "Accidents happen. We move on. I'm good," he said (via The Guardian), adding: "Apart from having four knee surgeries and three back surgeries, I'm great." Though the security guard was just doing his job, he seemed to forget The Augusta National's major rule — running is not allowed on the course. It seems that the ban on running was put into place to avoid accidents like this.

Usain Bolt was chased down by a segway

No one said being the fastest man in the world was an easy job. During the peak of Usain Bolt's reign as the king of track and field, millions of people around the world tuned in for his record-breaking 9.58-second time. Watching him break world records left and right never got old despite his races usually ending the same way. He would already be at the finish line celebrating by the time you blinked. However, at the 2015 World Championships in Athletics, things got chaotic. As the Olympian greeted fans at the Beijing stadium, a cameraman on a segway collided with him, knocking them both to the ground. 

In typical Bolt fashion, he quickly jumped up and kept it moving. He walked away with a slight limp as the cameraman got back on his feet. Bolt was later reunited with the cameraman, but this time things went smoothly. The man presented him with a bracelet, a token of good luck. "He said he was sorry as much as he could. But I checked to make sure if he was okay because I think he got the worst of it because he was off-balance falling backwards," Bolt later told reporters (via Yahoo! News). The champion jokingly placed the blame on his rival. "The rumor I'm trying to start right now is that Justin Gatlin paid him off, so that's what I'm going with," he quipped.

Trae Young's freak accident with a referee

During the 2021 NBA Playoffs, Trae Young was on a tear. The underrated Atlanta Hawks team pulled off a huge upset against the Philadelphia 76ers, thanks to an infamous play by Ben Simmons. As the team progressed to the Eastern Conference Finals, many looked forward to the match up against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. However, an injury ruined those plans. In Game 3, Young suffered a right ankle sprain after accidentally stepping on a referee's foot. Young unknowingly backed into the official, who was standing on the sidelines. This caused Young to leave the game and sit out the following games. 

During the post-game interview, the star was cool-headed about the incident. "All my injuries have been because I've stepped on somebody's foot," he explained. "It's been a tough thing that I've had to deal with but I've just got to be more mindful of where people's feet are. I guess I've got to have eyes behind my head now [and] watch the out of bounds line for these refs." Young did seem to be upset with the referee, though. When asked by a reporter if the two talked after the game, Young was blunt with his answer: "Hell no, nah. We ain't talk." The injury was later ruled a bone bruise which caused the star to also miss Game 5 of the series, per ESPN. He returned in Game 6 but the lingering injury caused him to play poorly, ESPN reported.

Dennis Rodman wasn't happy with this cameraman

Dennis "The Menace" Rodman truly lived up to his name. Throughout his impressive NBA career, Rodman was a difficult man to tame on the court. He routinely would rile up the crowd and fight with opponents and referees. One fight cost him more than he might have expected. His opponent? A cameraman who claimed Rodman injured him. During a 1997 game against the Timberwolves, Rodman went up for a rebound and stumbled into the media section on the sidelines. After landing on the cameraman, Rodman purposely kicked him out of frustration, allegedly causing the man pain in the back and the groin area. 

The commentators were shocked by the incident, but Rodman believed he was justified. "The camera people are too damned close on the baseline," Rodman explained post-game. "... All of a sudden, 'Boom' I step on his camera. Any athlete would react the same way. That's your career. I stepped on [it] and I twisted my ankle. I don't care who he is, he doesn't need to be that close" (via the Chicago Tribune). The NBA didn't buy that excuse and hit Rodman with a $25,000 fine and required that he see a therapist, per the Chicago Tribune. Rodman also faced an 11-game suspension; however, he wasn't done paying for his mistakes. The cameraman soon sued him, but the two parties settled out of court after the former Chicago Bull agreed to pay him $200,000, per the Associated Press.

Ricky Seals-Jones and a cameraman had a scary collision

In football, one wrong move could cause a player to suffer from a serious injury. Ricky Seals-Jones was left shaken after a scary collision with a cameraman. During a January 2022 game, the Washington tight end had smashed into a cameraman in the end zone while completing a play. Due to his momentum, Seals-Jones landed on his neck once he knocked over the cameraman (taking down another man in a ricochet effect). Though the cameraman was able to stand up after the collision, Seals-Jones was left on the ground and seemed unable to move. The athlete needed to be carried off the field. 

The Washington Commanders ruled him out for the rest of the game as they examined the extent of his neck injury, per USA Today. After the game, Coach Ron Rivera informed reporters that Seals-Jones managed to get up and moving at halftime and was doing well, per ESPN. The cameraman seemed to brush off the injury, too. He resumed work during the game.

Things got icy for Jon Sallinen

Some Olympians spend their whole lives waiting for the big moment to compete in front of the world. Regardless of advanced skills and preparation, accidents can still happen in the moment. In the 2022 Winter Olympics, freestyle skier Jon Sallinen saw his dreams crash in an instant. During the qualifying round, Sallinen's routine didn't go quite as planned. As he attempted a trick in the air, the skier lost control and ended up crashing into the cameraman. The camera was knocked out of his hands and both men hit the ground. Despite how dangerous it looked, the two didn't sustain any serious injuries. 

With a true Olympian spirit, Sallinen continued his routine. Unfortunately, he was given low scores from the judges, so he failed to proceed to the final round. However, he seemed to still be in good spirits after the incident. "I wasn't even sure if I was gonna ski on my second run after my crash, I hope the cameraman is okay, I landed directly on him," he told reporters (via the Mirror).

Daniil Medvedev threatened to sue over an injury

At the 2021 Southern Open, Daniil Medvedev was not a happy camper. During a match, the tennis star lost his cool after he collided with the on-court camera. Medvedev initially shook hands with the camera operator but soon voiced his frustration to an umpire. After being informed that the camera would not be removed from the court immediately, Medvedev proceeded to kick the lens on purpose. "Take it away, I almost broke my hand," he complained to the umpire. " You don't care about players?" According to Insider, he threatened to sue the event organizers for the accident before continuing to play. 

He later lost the match and would not speak to the press afterwards. His opponent, Alexander Zverev, understood his frustration, telling reporters, "Of course, in these moments it's really dangerous ... it's not good for athlete because he might get hurt." He added, "But I hope everything is fine with him. At least, the way he was playing, looks like nothing serious happened" (via Reuters). During the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Medvedev made headlines after he complained about the extreme heat during a match. According to Tennis 365, the star suffered through the weather conditions and even needed a cold shower before the second half of the match. He raised eyebrows by telling an umpire, "I'm fine. I can finish the match but I can die. If I die will the ITF (governing body International Tennis Federation) take responsibility?"