Top 10 Longest Sporting Events

Top 10 Longest Sporting Events

By now we’ve all heard about the epic tennis
match that happened recently at Wimbledon between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. That 11-hour marathon has now earned its place
in history as one of the longest sporting events on record, but it’s certainly not
the first time that a competition has simply refused to end. Over the years there have been a number of
grueling contests that lasted several hours or days, often with extraordinary consequences
for the competitors involved. Here are the ten most famous examples. 10. Football: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Miami Dolphins/Arkansas
vs. Kentucky Total Time: 82 minutes, 40 seconds of game
time/4 hours, 55 minutes During the regular season in the NFL, football
games are allowed to end in ties, so all the great marathon games happen postseason. The most famous example? Christmas day 1971, when the Kansas City Chiefs
and the Miami Dolphins squared off in an AFC divisional playoff game. The game was a back and forth battle that
went to overtime when the Chiefs missed a chip-in field goal with only seconds left
on the clock. The game went into overtime tied at 24-24,
but after an extra quarter both teams remained stymied. It was only in the second overtime that Dolphins
kicker Garo Yepremian converted a 37-yard kick to give Miami the win. The game that has since been dubbed the NFL’s
“Longest Day” produced some amazing stats. Perhaps the most impressive numbers belonged
to Kansas City’s running back, Ed Podolack, who gained 350 all purpose yards. College football overtimes aren’t sudden
death, and this often sets the stage for multiple overtime games, the most famous of which is
a game between Arkansas and Kentucky from 2003. The game was tied at 24-24 at the end of regulation,
and it took a full seven overtimes before Arkansas finally won 71-68. Five players ended up with multiple touchdowns,
and the teams combined for over 1000 yards of offense. 9. Chess: Ivan Nicolic vs. Goran Arsovic
Total Time: 20 hours, 15 minutes It’s theoretically possible for a chess
match to go on for 5,949 moves, but such a feat seems unlikely when you consider that
the longest chess game on record only included 269 moves—and still lasted over 20 hours. The game took place in Belgrade in 1989 between
Ivan Nicolic and Goran Arsovic. After nearly a day of play, only five pieces
remained on the board. Nicolic had his king, a bishop, and a rook,
while Arsovic had only his King and a rook. But after over a hundred moves with no change,
the match was finally declared a draw. This obscenely long match helped lead the
World Chess Federation to institute the “50 move rule,” which states that a game can
be declared a draw as soon as each player has made 50 moves without capturing one of
his opponent’s pieces. This means that the record set in Nicolic
vs. Arsovic is unlikely to ever be broken. 8. Poker: Phil Laak
Total Time: 115 hours Gambling lore is filled with stories of poker
games that went on for days, but the longest live game on record happened only weeks ago,
when professional card shark Phil Laak played live poker at the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas
for over 115 hours. Other than a five-minute break every hour,
Laak managed to stay at the table nearly nonstop for almost five days, shattering the previous
record set of 72 hours set by Larry Olmstead in 2004. Laak, who’s known as “the Unabomber”
because of his trademark hooded sweatshirts, claimed to stay sharp by doing yoga and adhering
to a strict diet in the weeks prior to his record attempt. He also swore that he did not use any caffeine
or other stimulants to help him stay awake, even though he only took a 30-minute nap one
time during his entire ordeal. Amazingly, after 115 hours of nearly uninterrupted
play, Laak still managed to cash out $6,766 in winnings. 7. Cricket: England vs. South Africa
Total Time: 43 hours, 16 minutes It might come as a surprise to most Americans,
but cricket has produced some of the most absurdly long contests in sports history. Depending on the rules, a game is only over
after one side has scored more runs and dismissed all of the opposition’s batsmen, but most
modern cricket matches allow for a draw to be called after a certain amount of time has
elapsed. This was once not the case with Test match
cricket, the more grueling version of the game played by international teams. Test matches are usually scheduled for at
least five days, at which point the highest scoring team is declared the winner. In some of the early Tests, Cricket was played
in the same “timeless” style as baseball, which allowed for matches to go on indefinitely
until one team won it all. This is exactly what happened in 1939 in Durban,
South Africa, when England and South Africa competed in what is now known as “The Longest
Test.” The match started on March 3, and continued
on for a further nine days (two off days and a rain-out day were also included) with neither
team able to close things out. By the 12th day, England was poised to take
the win with a record 654 runs, but the match had to be called off in order for the English
players to catch their boat ride back home. It was only then that “the Longest Test”
was finally declared a draw. 6. Boxing: Harry Sharpe vs. Frank Crosby
Total Time: 5 hours, 3 minutes, 43 seconds (76 rounds) Anyone who’s ever boxed can tell you just
how physically taxing of a sport it is, so it’s amazing to discover that there have
been fights that managed to go on for several hours. One of the most notable is a match that took
place in 1892 between Harry Sharp and Frank Crosby. At just over 5 hours, this brutal contest
is the longest knockout fight to ever be held under modern boxing rules. The match took place in Nameoki, Illinois,
and it was said to be a dead even fight, to the point that it wasn’t until the 76th
round that both men finally knocked each other down simultaneously. Crosby supposedly hit his head on the ground
hard, and even though he was able to get to his feet, Sharpe knocked him out a few minutes
later. At a total time of 5 hours, 3 minutes, 45
seconds, the Crosby/Sharpe fight is one of the longest bouts of all time. It proved to be so long, in fact, that the
referee didn’t even last the full duration. Supposedly, the fight’s ref was fighting
a cold by taking the occasional pull from a flask of liquor. According to boxing lore, the man passed out
in the 65th round, leaving Sharpe and Crosby to fight their last 12 rounds with no officiating. (Note from editor: unable to locate image
of Sharpe and Crosby. Shown: boxer from late 1800s/early 1900s – name
unknown.) 5. Baseball: Rochester Red Wings vs. Pawtucket
Red Sox Total Time: 33 innings (nearly 9 hours) The longest recorded professional baseball
game took place in 1981 between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, two Triple-A
clubs. The game started around 8 p.m. on April 18
and continued on into the early morning of Easter Sunday with the score deadlocked at
2-2. Despite the fact that both a young Wade Boggs
and Cal Ripken, Jr. were among the players on the field, hits were extremely hard to
come by, and the game was finally suspended by the league president just after 4 a.m.
on Sunday morning. Of the 2,000-plus fans that had started the
night, only 19 remained, and each one was given season tickets by Pawtucket’s team
owner. Amazingly, the game was not resumed for another
65 days—the next time the Red Wings were in town—and when it was finally restarted
it had become front page news around the country. Over 5,000 fans packed the stadium to see
the end of the longest game of all time. Unfortunately, the game ended rather anticlimactically. After just one inning and 18 minutes of play,
Pawtucket player Dave Coza hit a weak single to left field, sending teammate Marty Barrett
home to score the winning run in the bottom of the 33rd inning. The game has since gone down in baseball lore
as one of the most famous professional contests of all time. It is featured in the Baseball Hall of Fame,
and in 2006 the Pawtucket Red Sox held a celebration to commemorate the 25th anniversary of their
legendary win. 4. Hockey: Detroit Red Wings vs. Montreal Maroons
Total Time: 176 minutes, 30 seconds Hockey games usually avoid turning into marathon
competitions, because depending on the league, games either resort to a shootout after an
overtime period or just end in a draw. This is the case in the NHL, save for one
key exception: the Stanley Cup Playoffs. During the postseason, games will continue
to go into 20-minute overtime periods until a goal is scored in open play. This has made for some epic contests over
the years, the most famous of which took place in a 1936 semifinal game between the Detroit
Red Wings and the Montreal Maroons. After three 20-minute periods of regulation
play, neither team had managed to find a goal, so the game went into overtime. The defensive struggle continued, and the
players managed to go scoreless for five full 20-minute periods of overtime. Both teams were nearly dead on their feet
when Detroit’s Mud Bruneteau, a rookie who’d only been playing professionally for two weeks,
scored a miracle goal 16 minutes into the sixth overtime. When all was said and done, the total game
time was 176 minutes, 116 of it overtime—that’s nearly the equivalent of three back-to-back-to-back
games. 3. Basketball: Rochester Royals vs. Indianapolis
Olympians, Syracuse vs. UConn Total Time: Six overtimes, 3 hrs, 46 min It might be surprising to hear that the longest
NBA game on record ended with a score of 75-73, but that’s exactly what happened in 1951
when the Indianapolis Olympians bested the Rochester Royals after six overtimes. Perhaps not surprisingly, the contest wasn’t
the most exciting game ever witnessed. Supposedly, there were only 26 shots over
the course of the entire six overtimes, and most of the fans had left by the time the
game finally ended. A more modern marathon basketball game went
down just last year, when Syracuse and UConn played out a six overtime contest during the
Big East tournament. The game lasted nearly 4 hours, and it wasn’t
until 1:30 in the morning that Syracuse finally managed to win the game 127-117. The stats from the game were incredible. Not only did the teams score a combined 244
points, but over 100 of them came in overtime. Six players managed to get double-doubles,
and even more than that fouled out over the course of the six overtimes. Amazingly, Syracuse vs. UConn isn’t even
the longest game in college history. That distinction goes to a game between Cincinnati
and Bradley from 1981, which managed to go to seven overtimes. That game was before college basketball used
a shot clock, so even though it was longer, the Syracuse/UConn was definitely a more significant
(and physically grueling—one player claimed that by the end of the game he couldn’t
even feel his legs) accomplishment. (Image: 1950-51 Rochester Royals.) 2. Tennis: Isner vs. Mahut
Total Time: 11 hours, 5 minutes It might only be a few days old, but this
clash between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut in the first round at Wimbledon has already
entered the record books as one of the most famous tennis matches of all time. The American Isner and the Frenchman Mahut
began their match in the early evening of June 22nd. Both players started strong, and the match
was tied at two sets each when it had to be suspended due to darkness. Day two of the contest started with the fifth
set, but after 12 games the players remained tied at 6-6. Any other set would have been settled by a
tiebreak, but the rules state that in the fifth set, play must continue until a player
wins by two games. Incredibly, neither man could manage to break
the other’s serve, and after over 118 games of extra play, the match remained deadlocked. Play was again suspended for darkness shortly
after the nine-hour mark, only to resume the next morning. After a further 20 games, Isner finally managed
to break Mahut’s serve, and went on to win the match with two expertly placed passing
shots. The Isner-Mahut match broke a number of tennis
records. Not only did it smash the record for the longest
match in history at 11hrs, 15 minutes (the previous record was only a little more than
half that), but Isner also broke the record for most aces in a match with 113. Both men were visibly exhausted by the time
the marathon match finally ended, and a doctor has since predicted that both men might suffer
from tendonitis and other physical ailments as a result of their ordeal. With this in mind, it’s probably not surprising
that Isner went on to lose to his next opponent in straight sets. 1. Boxing: Andy Bowen vs. Jack Burke
Total Time: 7 hours, 19 minutes 11 hours of tennis is certainly grueling,
but it’s got nothing on 7-plus hours of the pure physical punishment that is boxing. The longest boxing match on record took place
in New Orleans on April 6, 1893. Andy Bowen and Jack Burke stepped into the
ring in the hopes of claiming the lightweight title, which had been left open thanks to
the retirement of the previous champ, Jack McAuliffe. At the time, boxing was still enough of an
underground sport that there was no such thing as a judge’s decision—one fighter had
to be knocked out or “throw in the towel” before the contest could be considered over. This rule set the stage for the most brutal
boxing match of all time. Burke and Bowen clashed, and in what was considered
to be a fairly even fight, proceeded to beat up on one another for 110 three-minute rounds. By the time the bell sounded for the 111th,
over 7 hours had passed and both men were so punch drunk that they couldn’t even step
out of their corners. Seeing that things were getting out of hand,
the referee finally declared the bout a no contest. By that point, the epic match had already
taken a severe toll on the two fighters. Burke had broken every bone in both of his
hands, and proceeded to go into semiretirement. Bowen, meanwhile, was killed in the ring in
his very next fight.

51 Replies to “Top 10 Longest Sporting Events”

  1. Earliest I've ever been. Would have been shocked if cricket wasn't on this list.

    Btw, just happened to see the video posting in my suggested feed, not in my subscribed notifications because I'm not getting it in my list at all! Not happy

  2. Aaaand we're back to not getting notifications. I haven't received a TopTenz notification since "10 Most Heavily Guarded World Leaders" was posted three days ago. This video showed up in my recommendations, but not my feed. I didn't get a YouTube app notification on my Android, either.

  3. Whenever TIFO video shows in notifications I go to my home page and see that Toptenz has been there for an hour

  4. Am I the only one that DOESN'T consider Poker a "sport"? And on that same level, Chess is considered a "sport", as well?!

  5. My favourite will always be, Björn Borg v John McEnroe in the 1980 Wimbledon Men's Singles Final….still remember it to this day!

  6. ultramarathons should be on the list, 72 hours at a poker table??
    how about 72 hours of running on your feet

  7. In 2010, a high school football game in Texas lasted 12 overtimes and about 5.5 hours, ending early the next morning.

  8. I was once listening to a game being played by the San Francisco Giants versus don't remember who while I was driving 70 miles to a graduation at the Guide Dog Center in San Raphael. After the graduation and a reception my sister and I got back into the car, to find that the game was still going on and was in the 21st inning. The game didn't end until we were almost home. This was in the mid 1980s.

  9. Wrong on the Cricket, before WW2 only in Australia were Test matches Timeless, the Durban match was a one off Timeless Test. Since WW2 all tests have been a maximum 5 days.

  10. Actually, the 50-move rule existed in chess before the game mentioned here. However, it had been modified, allowing 75 or even 100 moves in certain endgames that are known to be winnable, but can take more than 50 moves to win against a perfect defense. Following this game, these exceptions were scrapped. Since the endgames in question are rare, and hardly anyone knows how to play them perfectly anyway, the rule that a game is declared a tie after 50 moves without pawn moves or captures works fine in practice, and senseless marathons are avoided.

  11. ha ha ha – american football – 4hrs game time – 1.33 hours of play – stupid – australian rules football 2 hrs no stop play is normal

  12. too much american games – remove all the wasted time outs and pauses these games only have minimal real game time ….. crap

  13. 4:45 Man that is awful, people really just ignored brain damage back then.

    I mean boxers throw over 600 punches in a 10 rounder, landing roughly 30%. So even with them getting tired they each probably took a few thousand punches. Permanent damage is guaranteed at that point.

  14. 8:30 Before they introduced the shot clock basketball was possibly the most boring sport in existence.

    It was basically a game of keep away, hardly any dribbling or shooting, just teammates passing it back and forth trying to sit on a tiny lead.

  15. 2:30
    The fifty move rule has always existed. It should have been enforced. The rule is that 50 moves without a pawn move or any capture allows a claim of a draw. Note that a player has to claim. I have only enforced it once against a chess computer. Also worth noting is that in timey wimey chess in the 19th century there were no chess clocks and players could take unlimited time to move. There were apocryphal cases of a player writing a novel while waiting. Also in chess thete is correspondence chess that can go for years. There was even a game where there was one move a year by two university professors.

  16. For those who don't know baseball, AAA is the highest minor league level. These are the players who are either waiting to be called up to the majors, almost good enough for the major, demoted to work on something that wasn't quite right when they were in the majors, or major league players who are practicing to be ready to return after an injury.

  17. 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. Not as long as many other examples but there’s never been a more dramatic and exciting finish to an F1 race. Jenson Button winning the race after colliding with his team mate, getting a drive through penalty, being in last place at one point . Then charging through the field and overtaking Vettel on the last lap after Vettel made a mistake while under pressure from JB.
    All that after torrential rain had stopped the race for a number of hours . What a race

  18. Simon, you’ve left out six day races that have been run since the 1870s, many of which were run in recent years on running tracks. 
    In 2005 Yiannis Kouros (Greek-Australian) set a six-day world best at Colac, Australia running 644 miles (1,036km) 
    That’s an average of over four Marathons a day, so surely this should be No.1 ?

  19. The longest ice hockey game on main league of the country is from 2017 in the Norwegian league. 8 OTs, 11 periods, 217:14 game time, 8 1/2 hours

  20. Why is there no mention of bicycle racing?  We have the Grand Tours (over 100 hours of competition over 23 days) and the Race Across America (over 7 days of competition with no scheduled breaks; you can stop, but the clock keeps running).

  21. What about the World snooker championships? It's a best of 37 frames and can last 25+ hours over 3 days

  22. And isner would be in another marathon match at wimbledon last year for the 4th longest tennis match and 2nd longest at wimbledon

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