March 14, 2012

Give Him Credit, He’s Really Selling It

For the past several years, soccer fans and officials alike have been on a crusade against diving, or, as the upper crust call it, “simulation.” And with good reason. It doesn’t do the sport any good to be seen as a place where cheats and good actors make a big impact on games. There is such a thing as taking it too far, however.

Although I was never a particularly gifted player, I have played more than my fair share of soccer games. I know what happens on the field and the weird ways that two players can come together around the ball. Are there divers? Absolutely and I have no problem showing them a card.. Is it a dive every time somebody goes down and instant replay shows he wasn’t fouled? No. Contact happens, even if it doesn’t rise to the level of a foul. More to the point, sometimes a player with the ball is off balance or what have you and naturally will go to ground more easily that you might suspect. Again, no foul, but that doesn’t mean it’s a dive. There is some middle ground.

I suppose what I’m saying is that the pendulum has swung so far towards punishing diving that refs sometimes get carried away. Take this example (via):

That’s right, a player gets knocked unconscious in the box and is taken away on a stretcher, during which the ref shows him a red card (does the card still count of the player was unconscious and unable to appreciate the punishment?). I can completely understand how the ref may have, from the angle he had on the incident, initially thought it was a dive. But, really, once the guy’s being wheeled away by paramedics, is there any doubt about whether he’s faking?

I don’t want to see divers rewarded in soccer. But neither do I want to see every contact that results in somebody on the ground get sorted into the “foul” or “dive” boxes. It’s a contact sport. Sometimes shit happens.

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