Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Flop Factor Defined

I was speaking with Kira yesterday and she mentioned that she was watching Italian soccer. I asked what she thought, and she said "These guys are babies."

That got me thinking.

There are lots of barriers to the widespread adoption of soccer in the States. The various highly competitive professional sports leagues are one of those barriers, with soccer forced to compete with baseball, hockey, the NBA, and the NFL. For an audience used to watching guys beat the crap out of each other in football, it's hard to take a sport seriously when a guy galls to the turf every five seconds and gets stretchered off the field, only to return after being sprayed with some water.

This is what I call the Flop Factor. And the Flop Factor is killing soccer.

Referees in any sport have great capacity to enhance or destroy a game. Northeastern's recent game against UMass is a great example of a game enhanced by good refs. Calls were limited, but the play was kept reasonably safe. On the other hand, I haven't seen a suitably called soccer game in years.

Soccer seems to be enforced by referees who reward antics. The sport itself is nowhere near as physical as football, yet players are flailing and falling to the ground at the slightest touch to draw fouls. This needs to end, and I have a couple suggestions:

  1. Reduce the total number of fouls called by allowing tackles which contain incidental and/or minor contact to go uncalled.
  2. Force any player who remains on the ground for more than 15 seconds after a foul to be substituted out.
  3. Require that any player taken off the field after a foul be kept off the field for at least 15 minutes, or even as much as the remainder of the half.
  4. If a stretcher is involved, that player is done for the game.
  5. Implement a policy by which FIFA reviews fouls and levies fines on players who flop regularly.
I used to play, and I've been tripped, elbowed, knocked down, tackled from behind, and thrown out of bounds. I certainly knew when I'd been fouled. But I also knew when I could make it look like I'd been fouled, and it worked every time. Enough is enough. It's time to fix the problem.


  • Loux looks like the best option right now. It's not that I'm opposed to Moseley, but if we're gonna put in a green fifth starter, I'd prefer it be an unknown quantity to at least give us a good first round through the majors. Adenhart needs to pitch in the minors this season.
  • Tough loss. I'm personally of the belief that Quick is a more fundamentally sound goalie than Ersberg, and I think last night was a good example of why. Ersberg, like LaBarbera before him, spends far too much time on his chest in the crease. The Kings are effectively out of the playoffs at this point, but still, wow, what a season for them.
  • Well, duh. This is why the entire hybrid concept is ridiculous. Paying a $3000 premium to get an extra 10 mpg doesn't make fiscal sense even when gas is nearly $4.00/gallon. Hybrids are a mediocre, interim solution to a much bigger problem. You're better off buying a high mileage diesel and waiting until the Volt comes out.
  • While watching the Kings game last night, I realized something. I have no hockey goalie experience. I started watching the game only recently, and I'm clearly not an expert on the topic. But goalies are terrible at their position.

    My biggest annoyance is the way they use their stick hand. I don't know why a poke check always seems like the best choice, but it rarely is. Instead of trying to poke the puck away from a forward who's still 5 feet away from the crease, use the stick to seal up the five-hole. I don't understand how/why NHL-caliber goalies still allow five-hole goals. Instead of holding the stick 6 inches off the ice all the time, drop it down and use it so you don't have to collapse to the ice every time a forward threatens to shoot. It's asinine and wrong, despite the countless years of coaching these goalies have had. If nothing else, it forces the shooter to try and shoot around you rather than through you.


Kira said...

At least in NCAA soccer, the procedure goes like this:
Player goes down, play continues until referee decides the injury is serious enough to stop play or the play ends.
Referee "assesses" the situation to decide if the player needs medical attention.
Referee whistles for athletic trainer to come attend to player.
If medical staff is called to the field, the player must be substituted (for no specific amount of time, however). A played subbed for an injury can return to play at any time the medical staff allows.

It's just interesting to compare the mentalities between European football players and American baseball players who get lambasted just for rubbing their arm after getting hit by a 95 mph fastball. IJS..

Marcus said...

Agreed, and you see a lot of that in American versus world sports. I don't really get it, because sports are sorta just an extension of battle and I feel like the floppers really don't appreciate that.