Why don't hockey players dive like in soccer?
April 21, 2010 2:24 PM   Subscribe

How come diving in soccer has become so prevalent but hockey for the most part has avoided this?

I was wondering how diving managed to get so bad in soccer and then I realised that thankfully hockey has avoided this for the most part.

Is this because in hockey they do have fights and enforcers would bigtime punish players who faked going down? Other possible reasons I could think of:

– smaller surface area compared to a soccer pitch
– players are traded more frequently and wouldn't be respected by other teams
– just hasn't seeped in yet but is happening more and more (I don't know if that's true or not)

Thanks! Any NHLers who respond get bonus points!
posted by fantasticninety to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (29 answers total)
 
There's a penalty in the NHL for diving; plus players get a bad reputation among fans and other players for being a diver.
posted by inmediasres at 2:33 PM on April 21, 2010


Charmcityboyfriend plays hockey (recreationally). Having sat through his practices and games, I have a few insights, mostly from the "oh, sweetie, you did *not* just hurt yourself [again] doing [stupid hockey move]" perspective:

1. Hockey involves blades, and diving involves a) the diveee's skates coming out of contact with the ice, and potentially in contact with less protected areas of other players, and b) the divee's face getting much nearer everyone else's skates.

2. Ice is hard. Harder than grass or turf.

3. It is more difficult to get up quickly from the ice than from a field. Only slightly, but in a meaningful way timewise with how fast hockey moves.

4. What immediasres said.

IABNMAHE (I Am By No Means A Hockey Expert)


posted by charmcityblues at 2:35 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


correct me if i'm wrong, but here "diving" means faking an injury.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:44 PM on April 21, 2010


Well, that's embarrassing! Please feel free to disregard my comment.
posted by charmcityblues at 2:51 PM on April 21, 2010


Diving in football (as in, simulating that you were fouled by an opposing player and that this caused you to fall to the ground) is often done to force dead-ball situations that are to the advantage of the diving player's team. Free kicks, in the right position, and penalty kicks may offer a player's team a better opportunity of scoring than the player found himself in when he went to ground. I don't know statistics, but it's fair to say that psychologically, in football, if you are awarded a penalty you usually expect to score as a result, and football is a relatively low-scoring game, so a single situation of this kind can turn a tight game completely. Free kicks in good positions may also be worth the risk of diving for outside the penalty area.

On the other hand, if you are considered to have dived the referee can show you a yellow card; two of those and you're off the pitch for the rest of the game and you're likely to be banned for at least one subsequent game. So the player has to think about that risk too, though it often seems like they don't in the heat of the moment.

So, I suppose it depends on the rules of (ice) hockey regarding stopping play, how penalties are awarded, what the perceived likelihood of scoring is, what risk you are taking by diving, and how much getting the equivalent of a free kick or penalty kick is likely to affect the final result of the game.
posted by galaksit at 2:51 PM on April 21, 2010


From my perspective there's a TON of diving in hockey these days. Way more than even 5 or 6 years ago. Carcillo on the Flyers is just one recent example. There are examples almost every game of someone trying to embellish the effect of a hit or a slash or a phantom trip or something.

But you're right, in soccer it often looks like someone has been shot by a high-powered sniper rifle one minute, and then 30 seconds later they're up and playing like nothing happened.
posted by mikel at 2:52 PM on April 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


(Sorry, I meant to make clear I mean soccer when I say football.)
posted by galaksit at 2:53 PM on April 21, 2010


To add to what immediasres said, video makes it hard to hide the fact that a player takes dives. Making a referee look stupid (by tricking them into calling a penalty) is a great way to get them to hate you. The referees do talk among themselves--having them decide not to call an actual penalty because a player has cried wolf too many times can happen.

On preview: I think diving also includes players literally taking a dive, like for a tripping call or boarding call. It's about making a play look dangerous, not necessarily just for exaggerating an injury.
posted by millions of peaches at 2:53 PM on April 21, 2010


It's because football (soccer) is not a sport, but more often simply a game of chance. Scoring a goal is too difficult when the teams are balanced. That's why it is so rewarding to get a free chance to shoot at the goal, in a the so called standard situation, like a free kick, or a penalty kick.

In order to get such a scoring chance, nothing more is needed than to make the referee think the opponent fouled on you.

[I hate football, because the referee is the most important player on the pitch, and that simply is wrong wrong wrong. And Fifa nor Eufa want technological aids for that referee].
posted by ijsbrand at 2:54 PM on April 21, 2010


On the other hand, if you are considered to have dived the referee can show you a yellow card; two of those and you're off the pitch for the rest of the game

And importantly, you can't be replaced.
posted by galaksit at 2:54 PM on April 21, 2010


Plus, there's a difference between "diving" and "embellishing". (It's a fine line, however) NHL players embellish all the time, trying to draw the penalty for the perceived infraction. For example -- if a player feels a stick on them, they will occasionally just fall (even though the stick was in no way causing their fall), trying to get a tripping call. Goalies will embellish whenever the opposing player happens to touch them, hoping for a goalie interference call. But even known embellishers can get a bad rep, and refs know who the worst offenders are.

Generally thought, NHLers are on the ground (ice) a lot more than soccer players. They to the ice to block shots, get hit and fall, trip on the blue line :) It's not a fear of the ice that prevents them from diving.
posted by cgg at 2:57 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don Cherry on diving in hockey. It happens more than you think.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:11 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It happens a lot in Hockey. However, one significant difference in the way that it happens in Football (Soccer) versus Hockey is that the pitch (field) upon which Football is played is much, much larger than the ice in a Hockey game, meaning that the officials in Football are way farther away from most of the dives and are less likely to discern between a fake and a genuine foul.
posted by The World Famous at 3:15 PM on April 21, 2010


Time to repeat some football (soccer) pub truisms with no data:

It's not that long ago that, at least in England, players got hurt a lot more by opponents and the challenges were considered fair. Referees let opponents get away with a lot more.

Nowadays, the pendulum has swung towards "protecting" players, especially, it seems, the delicate talented flowers up against big hulking defenders. Thus referees award free kicks and penalties more freely. Players recognised they were able to get away with simulation and get a free kick out of it.

It's a fashion, not necessarily a permanent feature of the sport, and the authorities are aware of it and make some, perhaps ineffectual, effort to combat it. It is common now to see players booked (yellow carded) for diving, in the officials' opinion, even when they were legitimately fouled.

It's possible too that players sometimes dive to engineer other kinds of negative consequence for the opposition, such as the "guilty" defender getting a yellow card or even being awarded a red card and being sent off immediately. Again, whether these severe consequences exist in hockey would affect the value of simulation. If I'm right, in hockey, you have a sin-bin concept with no replacement but players come back on, right?
posted by galaksit at 3:15 PM on April 21, 2010


Could it be due to the sheer physical size of the soccer pitch?

I have seen faking from world-class players that is absolutely absurd- ie, guy gets skimmed on arm by ball, clutches face as if shot and writhes around on ground. It's obvious to tv cameras, but the referees on the field are pretty far away.

Basketball is another sport where it definitely happens ("flopping"), but it's more along the lines of "embellishing" - making a collision look harder than it really was. Players don't generally fling themselves to the floor without being touched.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:16 PM on April 21, 2010


Diving in hockey reduces the number of skaters on your team by 20%. In soccer, it does so only by 10%. I'm excluding goalies, obviously.

In hockey, very physical play is allowed. In soccer, it's not. Diving, in hockey, wouldn't draw attention to a foul, since the act that precipitates somebody's going to the ice isn't necessarily against the rules.

Yes, there is plenty of diving in hockey, but it's a bit less noticeable and definitely less flamboyant and dramatic as in soccer.
posted by entropone at 3:23 PM on April 21, 2010


Another consideration: This is an example of a contrasting effect in perception.

There is much, much more contact in hockey than in soccer, so "diving" or "flopping" does not provide the kind of visual contrast than in soccer. In soccer, if someone hits the deck, it's simply a more noticeable event than in hockey.

Because it's more noticeable, players are more apt to do it strategically for better game effect. If you're flopping in hockey, the odds are against you that the referee's observation will rise to the level of an actionable event. In soccer, your odds are greater, and therefore there is potentially more relative utility in using the tactic.

Of course, soccer referees know this. So do your opponents. There is obviously a huge element of gamesmanship involved. You may flop at the beginning of a game to signal intent to the referee and an opponent. Or you may not flop at all, "saving" it for a key moment.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:27 PM on April 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Diving in hockey reduces the number of skaters on your team by 20%. In soccer, it does so only by 10%. I'm excluding goalies, obviously.

In hockey, if you take a dive and play isn't stopped by the refs, you are giving the opposing team exactly what you were trying to accomplish - a one player advantage. In that case, diving is detrimental to your own team.

In soccer it sounds like the advantages of diving (free kick?) are higher and the immediate disadvantages (10% less players) are lower.
posted by meowzilla at 3:57 PM on April 21, 2010


Too much thought and analysis.

Let's simplify:
hockey = a man's sport

demonstrate anything but toughness in a man's sport and you lose respect.

recently with my British / Australian mates were watching a rugby game. Can't remember precisely what happened but a player got hit oddly or slightly tripped. The game announcer proceeded to say words to the effect of "if this were a football match they'd be rolling around on the ground squirming and yelling trying to get a penalty".

The bar roared with laughter. had to admit he was quite right.
posted by chinabound at 8:34 PM on April 21, 2010


In the same vein of what Cool Papa Bell said, hockey is a high contact sport. It's entirely possible for one player to deliberately cause another player to fall down and have that not be a penalty situation, whereas in football, deliberately causing another player to fall down is pretty much always going to be a penalty. So not only does a hockey ref have to believe your dive, they also have to see what theoretically caused it, and determine that the theoretical cause was illegal.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:43 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The man's sport thing is a misunderstanding. Players simulate to seek advantage, but there is still plenty of physical violence in the professional game. People complain that it used to be a man's game (Norman Hunter, Graeme Souness etc.) and now everyone is soft, but really it's just that the gamesmanship is more sophisticated now, and showing you are tough is less valuable than manipulating officials. Remember they are on their feet again as soon as they know they didn't get the decision from the ref.

Of course there are still players who value being tough and who stay on their feet even when violently fouled, but plenty who see cheating as something that gets results. As I said before, just one decision in your favour can win a game.
posted by galaksit at 9:08 PM on April 21, 2010


One other dimension: money. There is more money in football than you can believe. The salary cap for a whole NHL club would pay for a couple of top-flight European footballers. The stakes are phenominal, and at that point players, and more to the point, clubs are concerned about winning, not whether you like how they win.
posted by rodgerd at 12:32 AM on April 22, 2010


I think this question can only be answered fairly by someone who is an avid fan of both sports.

I watch a LOT of NHL hockey, and I sort of think it's a cross between Chinabound and Cool Papa Bell's answers. Hockey is a contact sport. Men are being slammed and injured and falling all over the ice... ALL the time. It's in the nature of the game to get bashed, bruised, and hurt. A big part of the referees' job is to discriminate between incidental falls/injuries and intentional falls/injuries. IMO, diving happens quite often, but the officials are used to it.

The problem is, I have no way to compare that to soccer. I don't watch soccer and can't even imagine a scenario on a soccer field where it wouldn't be totally obvious whether or not someone took a dive.

I guess what I'm saying is - isn't this comparing apples to oranges?

PS - FWIW, I think the idea that the difference has anything to do with money is absurd.
posted by keribear at 1:09 AM on April 22, 2010


"Of course there are still players who value being tough and who stay on their feet even when violently fouled, but plenty who see cheating as something that gets results. As I said before, just one decision in your favour can win a game."

so the question remains, why do the refs only call something if it gets a strong reaction rather than by the offense itself?
posted by chinabound at 2:38 AM on April 22, 2010


PS - FWIW, I think the idea that the difference has anything to do with money is absurd.

Then you should try talking to some actual football players. Every one I've chatted to has agreed that faking is bullshit at lower grades, but you do whatever you need to to win at the top levels - too much is on the line, careers included, not to.
posted by rodgerd at 2:57 AM on April 22, 2010


NHL players dive (even some prominent ones). The league cracks down every now and then. A few years ago they made a list of the worst divers, gave them all warnings, and tried to semi-publicly shame them. I'm not sure if that's a recurring process, or if the league just waits until things get bad.
posted by puckupdate at 3:33 AM on April 22, 2010


so the question remains, why do the refs only call something if it gets a strong reaction rather than by the offense itself?

They don't. Most decisions are made on challenges that don't involve diving. Often the fouled player is still on his feet.

The best simulation looks like a real offence occurred: that's what the players are aiming for. To look like they were brought down. That way you get the decision from the referee without the risk of being penalised for simulation. So even when players are cheating they're not necessarily trying to depict a "strong reaction" as such, but if they get their timing wrong it can look ridiculous, definitely. And if course they are mainly interested in how it looks from the referee's position which is usually behind both players. So from replays it can look much more obvious to TV viewers.
posted by galaksit at 6:03 AM on April 22, 2010


So even when players are cheating they're not necessarily trying to depict a "strong reaction" as such, but if they get their timing wrong it can look ridiculous, definitely.

Case in point: the worst dive ever.

From the Norwegian league. The first part is the actual dive, the second a parody a few days later by Norwegian legend Mini Jakobsen and John Carew (now of Aston Villa) after a goal.
posted by Bukvoed at 11:43 AM on April 22, 2010


"PS - FWIW, I think the idea that the difference has anything to do with money is absurd."

Then you should try talking to some actual football players. Every one I've chatted to has agreed that faking is bullshit at lower grades, but you do whatever you need to to win at the top levels - too much is on the line, careers included, not to.



I guess I should've expanded upon that but didn't want to hijack the thread. (Which I am now doing ;) What I meant was that NHL players make plenty, and I don't think that accounts for the difference between the two sports. If my quick Googling is correct, for the 2007-08 season the average NHL salary was just over $1.9 million. The median is around $1 million. I think at that level, there is plenty of incentive to move your team ahead at any cost.
posted by keribear at 8:01 PM on April 22, 2010


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