The Flop Stops Here
I just watched Derrick Rose (6-3, 190) “throw” the Sixers’ Thaddeus Young (6-8, 220) to the floor as Rose was trying to fight over what by that point had become a laughably illegal screen set by the Sixers forward. The whistle blew immediately – foul on Rose…of course. On the replay, Rose probably fouled Young on his way around, getting his arms around Young’s waist and using them to leverage himself over the screen, but in no way had Rose done anything that should have so much as moved the much larger Young.
Showing the replay, ESPN analyst Doris Burke chuckled, saying “how do you like that? Nice sell, Mr. Young.”
Here’s the thing, Doris. I didn’t like it — not at all. And I like you laughing about it less.
Flopping, diving and overall “gamesmanship” is ruining sports – at every level. The last soccer World Cup (and whether you like soccer or not, the World Cup is the biggest sports event in the world other than maybe the Olympics) was regularly marred by players “simulating fouls” (or diving), and just Saturday, a player in my son’s middle school game (on the opposing team, thank God) threw himself to the ground without contact in an effort to take a charge (maybe in another post I’ll cover how idiotic charge taking is). To their eternal credit, yesterday’s middle school officials didn’t fall for the ruse, but because of the speed of the games compared to the speed of the officials at higher levels, far too often officials are duped and reward this garbage behavior.
Not too very long ago this sort of thing would not be tolerated on the court, field or ice. Ever. Under any circumstances. Not long ago if you did something as crappy as trying to trick an official into calling a foul, you were as likely to get your butt kicked by a teammate as by an opponent. It was considered unsportsmanlike and beneath whatever sport you were playing. Do you know what happened to gladiators that flopped? Somebody stabbed them — historical fact. You can look it up, although I think I’d prefer if you didn’t.
Two summers ago, we saw Derek Jeter lauded in some circles for his “craftiness” and “savvy” for pretending to be hit by a pitch. You know what USED to happen if you pulled a stunt like that? The next pitch you saw, you wouldn’t be pretending when it hit you. Now when it happens, people like Reggie Miller say things like “selling a call is part of the game.” And yes I saw him say that on an actual NBA broadcast.
Soccer and Mike Krzyzewski take most of the heat for this ridiculous trend – and both deserve a large portion of the blame, but the problem extends far beyond both of them. And it’s time for it to end.
Mercifully, I have a plan.
The plan isn’t simple and it won’t be easy to implement, but I am convinced that it is the only way to save sports from their ultimate Paulusization (so named for Duke Uber-flopper Greg Paulus). It will take the absolute cooperation of players, broadcast partners and officials. And implementation needs to begin tomorrow.
STEP 1: Broadcast companies immediately instruct on-air personalities to end all positive statements concerning such behavior. Commentators who laugh, chuckle or guffaw at, or who attempt to praise or explain away such acts will be suspended for a week on a first offense, a month for a second, a year for a third and for life for a fourth. Step 1 has the added bonus of ending Reggie Miller’s broadcasting career in less than 14 months. Strict enforcement of this policy will be a condition for winning broadcast rights to any sporting event.
STEP 1A: All broadcasters will be required to call out offending players as the pathetic wastes of less than respectable flesh that they are. Mocking should be merciless and last the remainder of the game. Jimmy Dykes will be called in to teach other announcers how to be annoyingly repetitive. Again, strict enforcement of this policy will be required before broadcast rights will be awarded. Surprisingly British soccer announcers are already in compliance with this rule.
STEP 2: Go to the monitors. I’m serious. If we could spend an entire season going to the monitors every time DeMarcus Cousins breathed on somebody to see if he had breathed flagrantly, we can put them to use for this as well. If an official suspects that a player went to the ground without contact in order to simulate a foul, then at the next stoppage the official will go to a monitor and check. If it is confirmed that the player was being a pathetic waste of flesh, then he or she will be assessed a technical foul. The fouls will be treated like Flagrant 1 fouls in basketball, or yellow cards in soccer. A second in a single game will result in an ejection. Compile a certain number in a season and you will be suspended for a game.
NOTE: In sports where monitors are not available near the field or where the governing body prefers to pretend it’s still 1932 and no helpful technology exists (I’m looking at you, FIFA), then all questions will be reviewed post-game and all offending players will be suspended from the following contest.)
STEP 3: Teammates will no longer be allowed to help up players suspected of flopping. Players who help up a teammate who is charged with a flop will be fined. In scholastic sports, teammates guilty of helping up a flopping teammate will be docked a letter grade in one class per offense, except at Ohio State, where tattoo privileges will just be revoked for one week. Teammates will be encouraged to kick fellow players who are believed to have flopped. Also, teammates and opponents will be allowed to mock a player called for a flop relentlessly throughout the game without fear of a technical foul.
STEP 4: In order to end the annoying practice of simulating injuries, a player stretchered off a field must remain strapped to that stretcher for a week, unless an MRI or X-Ray reveals an actual injury. Any player who falls to the ground as if felled by a sniper, grabs a body part and writhes in agony will have that body part ACTUALLY injured if they attempt to come back into a game in that calendar day.
STEP 5: From this point forward, ALL pitches will be thrown AT Derek Jeter. Somebody needs to teach him a lesson and we all know he doesn’t move well enough to get out of the way anymore.
I know much of this plan sounds harsh, but look at it this way; this is a revised version and includes none of the stockades, posts in the town square or fire that my original plan featured. It turned out that version wasn’t even enforceable in Singapore. Beyond that, it is far beyond time to return sports to being an honorable pursuit competed between honorable people. The future of our civilization may depend on it (it may not, you never know, but are you REALLY willing to take that chance? Do you want flopping to be the thing that makes the Mayans right?).
I believe if we all work together, we can rid sports of this obscene scourge. It’s a win for everybody. We return sports to the greatness of my childhood. We teach children watching their sports heroes that it’s NOT okay to be a punk. AND we all get to laugh when we watch Duke basketball players forced to play defense in a manner that is something other than standing still and hoping to get run into.
Plus, when we get this issue under control, we can turn our attention to ridding sports of of its second biggest problem — Joakim Noah’s absurd samurai hair knot.