Friday, June 25, 2010

Soccer - A Sport for Weeners

This is a plea to futbol-football-soccer players of the world and to the fans of the sport, numbering approximately [total world population] - [total USA population]: the play-acting, in which a player fakes being kicked or tripped or slugged or otherwise fouled to gain advantage, must cease. It's embarrassing. It's disgraceful. It's boring.

Alan Siegel has been tracking such incidents in the World Cup in his "Dive of the Day" feature, the following being an example from the Italy-Paraguay match:

Especially aggravating here is how the Italian player goes into histrionics almost immediately after he has made a promising pass to an attacker on his right. If he had stayed upright rather than pretending (badly) to have been tripped, he would have been in position to accept a return pass or otherwise keep the attack going. But no, he went to the ground with a visible grimace and a grasp at one of his untouched legs, so when his teammate gained control of the ball, he tapped it out of bounds so as to reinforce and support the fraudulent pity campaign.

Points are better than theatrics -- more advantageous, more interesting, more sportsmanlike. Scoring another goal would have been a very good thing for Italy's chances, but after the 1:1 draw with Paraguay and other mediocre results, Italy is out of the tournament now, and good riddance. I wish I could say the surviving teams sides don't use this same garbage.

Sadly, the same fakery works in the NBA too.

Play basketball. Play futbol-football-soccer. Leave the bad acting to daytime tee-vee.


Reuben said...

I just don't understand. I mean, they know that they are being filmed from every angle, that networks will play and replay every highlight, and that fans will diligently scrutinize those records. Is the advantage of a potential call in your favor so great as to merit becoming a loser for all the world to watch and re-watch?

This kind of behavior in soccer only increases my respect for hockey, (American) football, and rugby players, to name a few team sports, not to mention athletes in every variety of combat sports.

Dale said...

Reuben, every sport has its dishonorable forms of play -- hockey's is arguably the most defensible: fight. I like the no-bullshit quality of that. I wish I could like something else about hockey. I've tried, but it just doesn't grab me.

Sigh. In soccer, the goal seems to be to get penalties called so as to take your opponent down to ten players, or to put opposing players at peril of being removed and thus make them play more tentatively. I gather it sometimes works.

I honestly don't know why these big sports leagues don't just fucking stop it by (say) empowering a review board to review game film and suspend / fine / horse-whip / decapitate players who were obviously faking.