Thursday, February 17, 2005

I am sick of players faking injuries

Longer than usual, this article, but the tipping point has been reached.

When I was a kid playing sports it was unheard of to fake injury. What happened to that?

There was a certain shame in it, and even as kids, in general not known for their morality, we knew better than to act hurt. Now, up the age to today’s pros and the faking injury flourishes, and I wonder what happened to the morality about it.

A lot is at stake in today’s top championships, the root of the problem, and the stakes sometimes cloud the right and wrong of it and it gets overlooked as we watch incidents of this football side-show grow. So what are the self interested reasons faking happens?

  • A breather – If you are winded and losing step, what better way than to sprawl on the ground and then rest for a minute? That player should work on his fitness to say the least. Notice there are more miraculous recoveries closer to the end of games.
  • Time wasting – ah, the spoils of protecting a 1-0 lead are many indeed. See the Italian league/national side for the portfolio on ways to do this.
  • Draw red and yellow cards on opponents – Watch any nature program on chimpanzees and you can see the evolutionarily principle in practice. Play acting to gain the favor of the dominant male chimp is a great way to avoid getting beaten up; if you have ever seen a chimpanzee fight you will understand why, as they usually don’t survive the beating.
  • Draw attention away from your own foul – Opossums are famous for "playing dead" when threatened, there is a saying “playing possum” in the American south which means “hide the truth”. “Playing possum” is becoming “playing soccer” much like “hockey” and “boxing” are indistinguishable at times.
  • Creating a virtual time out – notice how everyone circles around and gets a drink during treatment? Or imagine an office kitchen and it looks just like a coffee break sometimes, you are paid to play 90 minutes. We work 8 hours. You don’t need coffee breaks. It’s just like the faking player is at a bar and buys the team a round of drinks, hey it’s good PR within the team! Oh, and when you look at it, the other team is getting a round of drinks also, so they don’t mind.

There are a lot of reasons in that list to gain an advantage for your side thru faking. So: morality doesn’t work anymore, you can’t ever tell when it’s a real injury, and you can only really punish the fakes where there isn’t contact. Not a lot of room to play there.

Well, one thing that can be done is to say “its time hitting the deck when you are not touched is a direct red card”. That’s clear and simple. Players will stop flopping everywhere on the field. Importantly, as by-product players will also be less likely to fall hands flailing at the slightest touch. That is good for the game. It seems everyone is made of a helium balloons these days instead of muscle.

Coaches are also responsible for educating the players, some still very young and impressionable, on the morality needed to play and win the right way.

Another step that can easily be taken is for us, the fans, to actively criticize our own players and let them know we prefer to pay for 90 minutes and watch free flowing football. You are older now boys, no need for cloak and dagger, bathroom breaks, brownie points, or to get your opponent kicked out of a match. It’s more satisfying to watch when it’s fair and leave knowing your team won that way.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice post

2/17/2005 1:58 PM  
Blogger James No. 7 said...

You forgot one more reason as to why players fake injury: to "change the direction" of the game.

Have the opposition been all over the top of your team in the last ten minutes? Fall down, stop play for two minutes, and then get up to play again.

Most times, it changes the direction of the game in your favour.

2/17/2005 1:59 PM  

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