World Cup: flopping becoming an epidemic

Sport has been invaded.

It is unknown from whence this invader hails, but many would speculate that it came from South America, while others say it was born in Europe. All that is known currently is that it has spread and is now occupying foreign hosts.

This plague of course, is the flop, also called a dive, also called “WHAT?!?!?! ARE YOU SERIOUS, NO ONE TOUCHED HIM”

The flop is most often associated with soccer, and rightly so, as it seems to have originated there. Whether it started in Italy, Brazil, or the USA is irrelevant however, as it has not only spread seemingly to every corner of the globe, but it has become an inescapable and ubiquitous part of sports.

Experiencing the World Cup, as a soccer fan, is like having Christmas in June, except I get three presents every day for a month. As much joy as watching the World Cup brings me, it is infinitely irksome to have the integrity of the game tarnished time and again by floppers in all their manifestations.

Seeing Brazil gifted a win against Croatia in the World Cup opener because of a flop—and the subsequent poor officiating, which makes flopping possible—has made me start to seriously consider the state of the sport, and so many others that are being poisoned by “the flop”

I have followed soccer closely for many years, mostly watching the English Premier League, and while flopping isn’t as much a problem there as, say, in Italy, I have become mostly desensitized to it (imagine having a huge, rusty iron splinter in your foot for eight years but just getting used to it)

It has gotten so bad in the NBA that in 2008, the league began imposing fines for players found guilty of flopping. There are even separate Wikipedia pages for flopping both in Association Football (soccer) and the NBA.

Flopping is even beginning to permeate the most machismo and otherwise incorruptible league in the country, the NFL. Here is a clip of Andrew Luck doing his best Luis Suarez, courtesy of gifsection.com.

The root of the flop is two-fold: first and most importantly, it works. Referees will occasionally call a player out on his or her flop, and sometimes, soccer referees will even issue a yellow card for a flop, in what is one of the most wholly satisfying moments in all of sports.

While officials are becoming more savvy about flopping, the reality is, it gets results most of the time.

The NBA understands that until referees can collectively begin to recognize flops from fouls, there needs to be an external method of disincentivizing the dive, hence, the imposition of fines, something of which FIFA, the FA, and other leagues around the world should take note.

Critics of the NBA often complain that there is too much star treatment, particularly when it comes to calling fouls, but even the league’s biggest stars are not exempt from the league’s watchful eye when it comes to flopping. Dwyane Wade, most recently, was fined $5,000 for a flop in Game 2 of the NBA finals.

The second fold is that not only is flopping taught in today’s game—I had at least one soccer coach in my life tell me to “go down” if I felt any contact in the box—it has almost become a modern art form.

I never liked modern art.

Seldom will you see a player fall to the ground clutching his or her head after being kicked in the leg. Players are smart now, and flopping has evolved. They know how to react to the various bumps and fouls that they feign, and they know exactly how much to scream and agonize, in order to get their desired effect.

Younger players grow up watching their idols flop and naturally, want to imitate that. Thus a cycle of floppers begetting floppers is born.

The ideas of battling and honorable play have been replaced with a new rhetoric, what Ian Darke might call “gamesmanship”. It is something that players practice, that coaches coach, and has become as much a part of the game, tactically, as an offsides trap

For better or for worse—hint: it’s the latter—flopping is a part of sport now. This “combination of acting, lying, begging, and cheating” (Eggers, Slate), all of which are such admirable qualities, has already made its mark on this World Cup; let’s just hope that there is no more controversy—pronounce con-TRUH-ver-see, a la Ian Darke—as a result of this “gamesmanship”.

Just for the record, this is not a flop

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