'Flopping' is in the eyes of the beholder
I made several observations about World Cup soccer in my syndicated column last week.
Chief among those were: although I don’t normally follow soccer closely, I really do enjoy the World Cup; and, although I enjoy the World Cup, I believe the sport would be better served if there weren’t so many instances of players who feign injuries. I called them flops.
Most readers — probably 95 percent — who cared enough to respond agreed with my premise.
But clearly the piece struck a raw nerve with at least two soccer purists who disagreed — and then some.
And so, in the interest of fairness, I yield this space to them:
First from Doc Patterson:
For years I, and probably most of the readers, have considered you the standard against which all local journalists should be compared. You have historically taken the high road, given the benefit of the doubt — when in doubt, and backed off of critique and criticism when lack of personal or intimate knowledge warranted it.
As such, I was extremely disappointed in your July 4, 2014 article entitled “More, playing, less flopping”. You admitted, at the beginning of the article, your ignorance in the game of futbal; and yet you criticize and judge as “cheating” an aspect of the game about which you have no understanding.
“Flopping” (as you refer to it) is NOT cheating. It is NOT the same as kicking the golf ball out from behind the tree when no one is looking. It is not the same as loading the baseball with Vaseline; nor is it the same as corking the bat.
“Flopping” is a strategy that puts more time on the clock through “stoppage time”. It’s a strategy that gives the field captain (the only team member allowed to discuss the game with the field judge) time to talk with the field judge and team members in what could be termed “time out”. Of course there is no time out in Futbal and as such preserving and increasing stoppage time is akin to “working the clock” in American-style football.
Is spiking the American football, to stop the clock, “cheating”? Is managing the football game clock, through “time-outs”, cheating? Is the trip to the mound in baseball by the manager or catcher, for the purpose of changing the momentum of the game, “cheating”? My guess (based on my high esteem of your informed athletic acumen) is that you would perceive such interruptions of the game as “strategic” and even “genius” (if they indeed sealed the victory).
Make no mistake; I continue to respect your journalistic work. And yet in this case, more research and journalistic integrity was needed. You not only missed the mark — you fell well below the standard all of us expect of you. You owe your readers an admission of fault. You owe soccer fans an apology. And you owe yourself some training and education in the game of futbal. I recommend attending both a coaching clinic AND a referee clinic…
And, from P.K.:
Diving drama queens do detract from the “beautiful game”, but not as much as exaggerating sports critics that have never played, for whom there is insufficient vicarious engagement to kindle a feel for dribbling, chest trapping, pushing oneself to inhuman endurance while maintaining extremes of dynamic field awareness, touch, timing and balance.
BTW, theatrics and fakery are important in soccer when applied to dribbling through several opponents. Possibly you have admired the skills of Argentina’s unpredictable, magical Lionel Messi who is successful partly because only he knows his next move while his body lies to those attempting to stop him. Similar feints occur at penalty kicks, as well.
Even at your somewhat advanced age, you could learn to execute a few basic soccer techniques that would expand your appreciation for the most popular game on earth.
As for curing the dives, your suggestion would hurt the flow of game. Faking an injury can be carded, though never is. The ref could stop the game to get feedback on a replay review, another flow of game disruption.
The best preventive sanction may be for FIFA to review the fouls and injuries from multiple camera angles after the match and then fine either the player or his team for incidents that warrant punishing. This would be self -financing for expenses associated with the review as well as get the objection to diving back in the news again when the fines are announced.
Even with the dives, this has been a breathtaking cup to behold and sports critics can help the American effort of developing world class soccer players, like Tim Howard, by celebrating the demigods of the sport, not the diving divas.
At my “advanced age” I have learned to accept criticism, just as I have learned to appreciate World Cup soccer.
However, I will continue to hold my admittedly uneducated view that futball would be more enjoyable without the acting and the flops.
As always, thanks for reading and caring enough to write…