Why do soccer players seem to have such low pain tolerance?
June 10, 2006 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Why do soccer players seem to have such low pain tolerance? Not trying to insult the game or players, but it seems they roll around like they've been shot any time they fall. Why is this?

Like most Americans, I've never been a soccer fan and I don't really follow the game at all. But I know the rest of the world does, so I watched the game this morning. I understand the strategy of trying to game the ref into calling a foul, but is the flopping around like a fish out of water really necessary? There is a lot of acting in basketball too, but typically players "flop" to the ground and get back up without shedding tears.

Also, what's with the stretchers? Players who twist a knee/ankle seem to be carried off on stretchers. This happened twice in the game I saw, and at least once the guy came back in like 2 minutes later. Each time the injury obviously was not serious. Why is this necessary? Can't the guy just hop or limp off the field under his own power or with the help of his teammates/trainers? Isn't it a little embarassing to need a stretcher?

I love watching and participating in sports of all kinds. Sports is a universal language that says a lot about people and their culture. So is there some kind of culture of coping with pain that is unique to Americans - or just not present amongst soccer players? This isn't the first soccer game I've ever watched but the amount of dramatic injuries I see is always astounding. Help me understand...
posted by b_thinky to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (91 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Its just the soccer way of working the ref.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:34 AM on June 10, 2006


Yeah, they're faking. It's called diving.
posted by BackwardsCity at 11:41 AM on June 10, 2006


It's theatrical. Some do it more than others. The stretchers are also a precautionary measure. Most of these players bodies are literally worth $millions. If there's slightest chance they're really injured, the investment must be protected.
posted by normy at 11:42 AM on June 10, 2006


The phrase you're looking for is "Diving Nonces"
posted by DrtyBlvd at 11:43 AM on June 10, 2006


10 best football dives.
posted by essexjan at 11:50 AM on June 10, 2006


The stretchering is partly a way of limiting the histrionics by the tackled player and his teammates.
posted by beniamino at 12:01 PM on June 10, 2006


Dave Eggers says:


The second and greatest, by far, obstacle to the popularity of the World Cup, and of professional soccer in general, is the element of flopping. Americans may generally be arrogant, but there is one stance I … stand behind, and that is the intense loathing of penalty-fakers. There are few examples of American sports where flopping is part of the game, much less accepted as such. Things are too complicated and dangerous in football to do much faking. Baseball? It's not possible, really—you can't fake getting hit by a baseball, and it's impossible to fake catching one. The only one of the big three sports that has a flop factor is basketball, where players can and do occasionally exaggerate a foul against them, but get this: The biggest flopper in the NBA is not an American at all. He's Argentinian! (Manu Ginobili, a phony to end all phonies, but otherwise a very good player.)
But flopping in soccer is a problem. Flopping is essentially a combination of acting, lying, begging, and cheating, and these four behaviors make for an unappealing mix. The sheer theatricality of flopping is distasteful, as is the slow-motion way the chicanery unfolds. First there will be some incidental contact, and then there will be a long moment—enough to allow you to go and wash the car and return—after the contact and before the flopper decides to flop. When you've returned from washing the car and around the time you're making yourself a mini-bagel grilled cheese, the flopper will be leaping forward, his mouth Munch-wide and oval, bracing himself for contact with the earth beneath him. But this is just the beginning. Go and do the grocery shopping and perhaps open a new money-market account at the bank, and when you return, our flopper will still be on the ground, holding his shin, his head thrown back in mock-agony. It's disgusting, all of it, particularly because, just as all of this fakery takes a good deal of time and melodrama to put over, the next step is so fast that special cameras are needed to capture it. Once the referees have decided either to issue a penalty or not to our Fakey McChumpland, he will jump up, suddenly and spectacularly uninjured—excelsior!—and will kick the ball over to his teammate and move on.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:04 PM on June 10, 2006 [2 favorites]


In soccer the clock doesn't stop when play stops, so the stretcher was brought in to speed up play (if the fish is flopping around for a minute or two on the field, they could be stalling for time rather than looking for a penalty).
posted by lowlife at 12:05 PM on June 10, 2006


I know very very little of football (or 'soccer'). But I do know it's nothing more than a cheap trick to make the ref take out a red or yellow card for the opponent, or at the very least to try to stall the game a little in hectic moments.

As for the stretchers.. footballer legs are quite literally worth several million euros a piece. Besides, it's probably regulation.
posted by Harry at 12:06 PM on June 10, 2006


There's the theatrics, but there are also real injuries.

Referees can be fooled, but not doctors and surgeons who have to fix torn ligaments and such.

How does soccer stack up against other sports in terms of injury risk?
Although endurance running is often considered to be a high-injury sport (about 50 to 65% of all endurance runners are injured in an average year), the actual rate of injury in running is comparable with that of soccer. Various studies suggest that the running injury rate is about five injuries per 1000 hours of running, with little difference between training and competition ('Prevention of Running Injuries by Warm-Up, Cool-Down, and Stretching Exercises, The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 21(5), pp. 711-719, 1993). This is a little higher than the 'practice' rate of injury for soccer but much lower than soccer's competition-related injury rate. Injury rates in other sports have been poorly studied, but it appears that soccer has one of the highest rates of athletic damage (Sportblessures breed Uitgemeten, Haarlem, DeVriesborch, 1990).

posted by funambulist at 12:09 PM on June 10, 2006


yeah, I know what it is, but isn't it embarassing to the players sense of self-pride or seen as wimpy to the fans? Do people really accept this without booing or hating the repeat offenders?

Athletes in the NBA, NFL, NHL, etc are worth just as much, but if you see a stretcher, it's because of something like this (Willis McGahee blowing his knee out) or worse.

What about other sports like Rugby or Aussie Rules football? Do those players participate in the same kind of behavior? I know soccer players are immensely talented athletes and all, but is the concept of toughness foreign to them or just not valued, or what?
posted by b_thinky at 12:12 PM on June 10, 2006


b_thinky: I don't think it is because Americans have higher pain thresholds or because the rest of the world lacks 'self-pride'. The rules of football (soccer) give an advantage to players who dive. So they dive. In rugby, for example, it's much harder to be penalised for a heavy tackle, so there is far less diving/histrionics.

This could be disproved by an analysis of US team diving (or lack thereof) in the World Cup.
posted by beniamino at 12:20 PM on June 10, 2006


[Of course, diving itself wouldn't work in rugby anyway. But theatrical fake injuries are rare. That's my point.]
posted by beniamino at 12:23 PM on June 10, 2006


I deplore flopping and diving and faking as much as anyone (could Joe Cole have looked any more pathetic this morning?), but I must also say that sometimes stuff really hurts. I collided with a fellow on the pitch once and it was the most painful experience of my life - I really thought I had obliterated my knee cap. Play stopped, I rolled around a bit and walked it off on the sidelines for about ten minutes and was back in play.

Looking back now, it seems ridiculous that I made any sort of fuss about it, but it really hurt at the time. MAybe the constant movement and blood flow in the legs makes the brain percieve a higher degree of trauma than actually happens as a safety mechanism.
posted by jmgorman at 12:25 PM on June 10, 2006


Do some proper research. Next match you watch, make a note of the number of fouls compared to the number of players rolling around on the floor. A lot of the time players will just get up and carry on. Rolling around falls into a number of categories:

1. 'Simulation'. The player is trying to fool the referee into giving a foul. In some footballing cultures, conning the ref is seen as part of the game. In others it is frowned upon. According to the rules of the game, if the ref thinks that a player is simulating then he should show a yellow card. (Two yellow cards = sent from the field. Players who get a certain number of yellow cards in tournaments & leagues will be penalised by missing a game.)

2. Buying time by feigning injury. If a team is under pressure, especially if time is running out and they have the result they want, a player may stay down to break up the play and give his side time to regroup.

3. Having a rest. Bear in mind that a player can be running around (a lot of it sprinting) for 90 minutes with only a 20 break half way. Sometimes you might want to try and catch a breath. See also 2.

4. They're hurt. I'll quite happily put on my football boots and give anyone here a kick in the ankle, knee or shin. (Shin guards are worn but you'll still get hurt if someone kicks 'em.) Or I can chase you across the park and slide into you from behind twisting various joints.

A lot of injuries look fairly innocuous but the twisting of ligaments, pulling of various tendons and so forth bloody hurts. The odd kick or elbow in the head isn't that fun either.

You're watching some of the best players in the world, near or at the peak of their game playing for the ultimate prize. They want to win badly so you have a combination of playing hard and trying to get every possible advantage.

My advice is to watch more matches and try and learn more about the game. You'll understand more about the hows & whys...

(Similar question about NFL: Why does the tackled player always cheat by putting the ball down as far forward as possible rather than where he is holding it when he's brought down?)
posted by i_cola at 12:26 PM on June 10, 2006


Its part of the game. It is often suggested that it pisses people off in the UK and Scandanavian countries to see a player dive and that it is much more a (Mediterranean) continental attribute but I would wager that most teams are happy when a player dives and gets them a free kick but are suitably outraged when a member of the opposition does it.

Another point: I have sometimes heard that one of the reasons USians don't take to football is the lack of goals. Is there any truth in this? Does the lack of goals put you off footy?
posted by ClanvidHorse at 12:29 PM on June 10, 2006


The NHL has had issues in the past (dunno if it still does, or not, as here in Ireland you don't see too many NHL games on TV) with diving. But they were cracking down the last time I paid any attention. And I have to vote for the "because it's faster" reason for the stretchers too. I've never understood why they don't just stop the clock when people get injured. No need to worry about voodoo stoppage time at the end of the game.
posted by antifuse at 12:29 PM on June 10, 2006


Clanvidhorse: I know that's oen reason that *I* don't find soccer as enjoyable as I could. 90+ minutes of play resulting in a 0-0 tie doesn't really do much for me. See today's Sweden/Trinidad game for an example.
posted by antifuse at 12:31 PM on June 10, 2006


but is the concept of toughness foreign to them or just not valued, or what?

Soccer players don't wear 20 centimeters of padding. 'Toughness' means absolutely nothing if it gets you disabled during a training match and you can't participate in the World Cup.

Also, and I might be wrong on this, but American football seems to be more of a 'brute force' sport than soccer, which is more of a 'footwork and technique' thing.
posted by Harry at 12:36 PM on June 10, 2006


CunningLinguist: Dave Eggers is full of shit. As well as the NFL example above, there are examples of cheating in all sports. Sometimes it's called gamesmanship. Gougeing & stamping in rugby, beamers & ball tampering in cricket, blatant & unpunished drug-taking in, well, seemingly every American sport.
posted by i_cola at 12:38 PM on June 10, 2006


Stretchers are not always used every time there's contact, it's up to the referee to decide - see regulations (same in the US):

Referees must follow the instruction below when dealing with injured players:

- play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in the referee’s opinion, only slightly injured
- play is stopped if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured
- after questioning the injured player, the referee authorises one, or at most two doctors, to enter the field to ascertain the type of injury and to arrange the player's safe and swift removal from the field
- the stretcher-bearers should enter the field with a stretcher at the same time as the doctors to allow the player to he removed as soon as possible
- the referee ensures an injured player is safely removed from the field of play
- a player is not allowed to be treated on the field


etc. the idea is you can't know instantly if there was an actual injury and how serious it is, until it's been examined and that's best done off the field without interrupting the game the whole time. Stretchers may look embarassing to you but they're just practical. It's quicker and safer to bring in stretchers than wait for the (presumed) injured player to hop off the field in all his stoic macho pride.

That's why it's possible for someone to come back after 2 minutes. They could have been faking it, of course, or they could have been really hit by the other player, but just not as badly as to prevent them from resuming playing.

It has little to do with cultural differences in coping with pain, it's differences in the nature of different sports. (Also see the first link in my previous comment, there's a reference to a study on injuries among soccer players in the US.)
posted by funambulist at 12:39 PM on June 10, 2006


A dive can make or break a game. Obtaining an awarded penalty or decisive, edge of the box free kick is the ultimate "goal". The stretcher is almost a slap on the wrist i.e. you will get removed from the game until you stop pretending you actually got hurt you diving fuckwit.
posted by brautigan at 12:52 PM on June 10, 2006


Also it can get valuable opposition players sent off. Tactics all round.
posted by brautigan at 12:54 PM on June 10, 2006


isn't it embarassing to the players sense of self-pride or seen as wimpy to the fans?

No, unless there's a strong suspicion it was all a fake.

But, despite what Mr Eggers may believe, real injuries are more frequent than faking. Keep in mind soccer is played at all levels, not only major championship matches live on tv with big money behind it and even bigger national sentiments.

Do people really accept this without booing or hating the repeat offenders?

Fakers get booed, merely having stretchers in doesn't get booed, unless there's a suspicion etc.

Athletes in the NBA, NFL, NHL, etc are worth just as much, but if you see a stretcher, it's because of something like this (Willis McGahee blowing his knee out) or worse.

Well, maybe the mistake is to compare how athletes act in different sports with different types of physical contact and injuries and frequency of same - also different areas of contact, and different levels of protection gear, etc.

Blowing your knee out may be more visually shocking than tearing a ligament, which you don't even see happening, but it can have just as big an impact on your career in the game.
posted by funambulist at 12:54 PM on June 10, 2006


What about other sports like Rugby or Aussie Rules football? Do those players participate in the same kind of behavior? I know soccer players are immensely talented athletes and all, but is the concept of toughness foreign to them or just not valued, or what?

b_thinky, it's interesting you mention the concept of toughness. I'm American, and a lot of my friends from the UK and Australia are always talking about how wimpy they think American football players are because of all the padding our players wear compared to rugby players etc. But I've merely fallen a couple of times in my life and when I see some of the throws, hits, and body slams that athletes take, it amazes me that they can get up at all (with or without padding). I guess the concept of conveying toughness just depends on the culture - all the athletes are pretty tough, and whether they are wearing padding or not, or diving and flopping around, everyone still knows they have an amazingly high threshhold of pain, right?
posted by gt2 at 12:57 PM on June 10, 2006


I think it also has to do a bit with the culture of the team (not necessarily the country). I'm generally a soccer player, not a watcher - so I can't give you a whole lot of specific team names and attributes - but just as you might expect team A in the NFL to be a huge passing team and team B in the NFL to be more of a grab-the-ball-and-run-up-the-middle team, you will see a lot of teams that flop all the time, and a lot of others that don't do it so much.

The trouble, and I've experienced this firsthand, is that if another team flops often and you don't, you start to look like the aggressor. When I played a lot of club ball, our team culture was such that we were taught to let a) the ball get through or b) the man get through, but never both. Thus we tended to stand our ground, to the point of our defenders just letting the (generally smaller) guys run into them. We thought, as many professional and international teams think, that it was cowardly to dive.

The rest of our leage didn't seem to think so, however. So, as a ref, if you see team X constantly diving and grabbing their shins, and team Y generally standing their ground and looking at them with contempt, you're going to start calling things in favor of the flopping team.

Thus, we eventually had to swallow our (possibly misplaced) pride and adapt to the conditions of the game - i.e. a few of us (not me!!!) started flopping too. Not as much as other teams, but we did do it some. It's not a pretty thing, but it can win games.

Oh yes. And on preview, gt2 is correct. The teams that tended to flop the most on us were headed by American (and Mexican-American, often) coaches. We were educated in a structure that mimicked British soccer. Stiff upper lip and all that.
posted by dihutenosa at 1:00 PM on June 10, 2006


According to the rules of the game, if the ref thinks that a player is simulating then he should show a yellow card.

Does this happen often? I watched most of the 2004 Euro thingy and a couple other random matches. I can't recall seeing this faking penalty called, but possibly I just didn't notice.

(Similar question about NFL: Why does the tackled player always cheat by putting the ball down as far forward as possible rather than where he is holding it when he's brought down?)

That's one of the fundamentals of carrying the ball. In certain situations - reaching for a 1st Down or Touchdown - you only need to cross the ball over the plane of the goal line/first down line regardless of where your body is. So it's not really cheating at all. The ref decides where to spot the ball after the play and not too often will you see dramatic arguments.

The best comparison you could do is basketball. It's in a players benefit to get fouled, so theoretically you should see a lot of flopping/faking injury. Flopping occurrs occasionally, but rarely do you see someone rolling around like they do in pro wrestling or soccer. Usually players will glare or shout down the refs if they think they've been fouled. This is extremely annoying, especially when someone (Kobe Bryant) claims to be fouled every single play. But it's not as bad as faking injury.

Another point: I have sometimes heard that one of the reasons USians don't take to football is the lack of goals. Is there any truth in this? Does the lack of goals put you off footy?

Yes! I watched a 0-0 tie today. Doesn't that mean that me and anyone who watched/participated in the game wasted 90 minutes of their life? What was the point of playing exactly? Can't they do overtime or something? And why was the Trinidad team so fired up about it? Tying is nothing to be proud of.

Also, and I might be wrong on this, but American football seems to be more of a 'brute force' sport than soccer, which is more of a 'footwork and technique' thing.

That's the point I think I was trying to make. Football and basketball players are typically the biggest/strongest guys. There is an alpha-male image of toughness they're expected to live up to, and injury is not part of it. Oft-injured players here are actually blamed for their own injuries.

I guess the same is not expected of soccer players because they're not the biggest/strongest/toughest, they're just the best soccer players.
posted by b_thinky at 1:09 PM on June 10, 2006


I loathe diving - but at the same time thats why I love it. Do you get what i am saying? Why players will degrade themselves like that i don't know. But it adds a whole dimension of disgust, hate and honour/dishonour to this game that allready is so full of emotional plays, that you just have to love it. I know I do.
posted by FidelDonson at 1:17 PM on June 10, 2006


Growing up, I learned to call diving "doing an eye-tie". A not particularly nice reference to the Italians' love of histrionics. Even now, when playing football in the park with my sons, if anybody makes a drama out of a tackle, they're asked if they're Italian.

Diving annoys a lot of football fans. Personally, I hate it when England play Argentina, because it's guaranteed that most of the match the Argies are going to be rolling around on the ground trying to earn themselves an Oscar.

And if anybody here thinks that football (or 'Sawkurr', as our colonials would say) isn't a full contact sport, I suggest that they enrol themselves in a league and see how long they last. To quote the Angel of Death: " Screw you man! Mass genocide is the most
exhausting activity one can engage in, next to soccer."
posted by veedubya at 1:23 PM on June 10, 2006


I watched a 0-0 tie today. Doesn't that mean that me and anyone who watched/participated in the game wasted 90 minutes of their life?

No.

What was the point of playing exactly? Can't they do overtime or something?


No need as this is the group stages: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, Top 2 teams in a group go thru to the next round. Do keep up.

And why was the Trinidad team so fired up about it? Tying is nothing to be proud of.

Smallest nation in World Cup history, made up of players from shitty leagues, down to 10 men... If you don't understand, you just don't "get" football, mate.
posted by the cuban at 1:27 PM on June 10, 2006


What was the point of playing exactly?

Hehe...

Look, there's nothing wrong in being bored to bits by a sport and preferring another, especially one you're more used to and have been more exposed to and therefore know and care a lot more about. There's no need to keep comparing them when they're so fundamentally different, though.
posted by funambulist at 1:33 PM on June 10, 2006


No need as this is the group stages: 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw...

Or you could all just stop kissing your sisters, have some penalty kicks and be done with this "draw" and "groups" nonsense and have a single elimination tournament right from the get-go.
posted by frogan at 1:33 PM on June 10, 2006


Smallest nation in World Cup history, made up of players from shitty leagues, down to 10 men... If you don't understand, you just don't "get" football, mate.
posted by the cuban at 1:27 PM PST on June 10 [mark as best answer] [+fave] [!]


I do "get" it. They were the heavy underdog but to celebrate tying - isn't that like admitting you expected to lose in the 1st place?

What's wrong with OT or penalty kicks? Surely in the championship game a draw wouldn't suffice. Would many fans prefer to see a winner and a loser in every match?
posted by b_thinky at 1:41 PM on June 10, 2006


It is definitely a part of the reason that I don't care for soccer. And its part of the reason I don't like basketball (and the gangsta-wanksta crap).

That and the 0-0 scores. Competition doesn't end in a tie, it just doesn't and I'm thrilled that the NHL changed their rules.
posted by fenriq at 1:46 PM on June 10, 2006


I can appreciate the genuine excitement of the World Cup. Everyone roots for their country, which makes it compelling despite the fact (this is an assumption on my part) that the good pro leagues actually have higher level of play.

This is probably more interesting for Europeans or South Americans because they have more neighbors and therefore interact with people from more countries.

In the USA we have the NCAA basketball tournament every spring. Teams from all over the country compete and so you can root for the underdog/your alma mater/team from your region. It's single elimination too, so upsets occur frequently.
posted by b_thinky at 1:46 PM on June 10, 2006


http://youtube.com/watch?v=OMbrhXJ1SBM&search=soccer%20training
posted by spatula at 1:50 PM on June 10, 2006


Would many fans prefer to see a winner and a loser in every match?

No. Patience. This is the World Cup. Suspense matters. There will be a winner. Just not today.
posted by normy at 1:51 PM on June 10, 2006


err sorry linkified:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=OMbrhXJ1SBM&search=soccer%20training

It's a commercial addressing this exact phenomenon in soccer, showing 'training' camp where they are learning how to dive theatrically.
posted by spatula at 1:52 PM on June 10, 2006


Or you could all just stop kissing your sisters, have some penalty kicks and be done with this "draw" and "groups" nonsense and have a single elimination tournament right from the get-go.

but then we wouldn't get to talk about points on aggregate! besides, group play gives us so many more games to watch.

Dave Eggers is full of shit.

thank you! i read his article the other day and thought it was just as pretentious as his other stuff, but then so many people keep citing it as evidence of something i'm missing, which i might be. ugh.

Yes! I watched a 0-0 tie today. Doesn't that mean that me and anyone who watched/participated in the game wasted 90 minutes of their life? What was the point of playing exactly? Can't they do overtime or something? And why was the Trinidad team so fired up about it? Tying is nothing to be proud of.

sweden was supposedly a superior team because they're european and have more big name players than tnt, but that wasn't really the case. if you thought that game was dull, i don't know what to say. i thought it was pretty good- hislop was amazing to watch. i guess it's just that most american sports are all about high scores. it's sort of like how some people find pitchers duels in baseball dull, yet others think they're some fantastic games.

as for diving- it's stupid, i hate it, and i usually associate such underhanded behaviour with nations like argentina. i didn't need to see so many shots of drama-king and ex-coke-pig maradonna in the stands.

spatula, that's a pretty good video. almost as good as the gay ref.
posted by kendrak at 1:59 PM on June 10, 2006


I'm an American and I don't enjoy soccer, or hockey either, because of the low scoring and frequent upsets. There's a element of luck in each goal made or missed, and I just require a bigger statistical sample if I'm to believe that the winning team was the better team. To me, a game of soccer just looks like an incredibly nimble and athletic coin toss.
posted by nicwolff at 2:09 PM on June 10, 2006


I have to admit I get a thrill out of watching reverse angle dives...but I also love the World Cup and football/soccer. Dives and theatrics are entertaining. I also like the raising of the arms after any action demanding ref attention.
posted by Gnatcho at 2:10 PM on June 10, 2006


group play gives us so many more games to watch.

There are 32 teams and 64 matches in the World Cup (including the extraneous third-place match). There are 64 teams and 61 games in the NCAA Tournament. So the "more games" point is kind of a wash. But in the NCAA Tournament, there's no long, slow kissing (with tongue) between siblings.

Oh, and the NCAA Tournament happens every March, not every four years. And why four years, anyway? This ain't the Olympics.
posted by frogan at 2:17 PM on June 10, 2006


Why do soccer players seem to have such low pain tolerance?

I know there's a huge thread here and I should read every response, but my first reaction on finding this in my RSS feed is: "Are you kidding me?" Every soccer player I've ever known is much tougher than athletes in other sports. You want to talk wimps? Look at basketball players. Soccer players endure a lot of stress and pain, and they generally play through it. (I have a couple of war stories of my own, and a fucked-up knee to prove it.)

Soccer players don't have a low pain tolerance, though they sometimes fake it ("diving").

Now I'll go back and read all the responses, probably to find that people have said similar things a hundred times...
posted by jdroth at 2:22 PM on June 10, 2006


There's no hope for anyone who thought Sweden v T&T was boring. Wait until you see an actually boring game!
posted by afx237vi at 2:26 PM on June 10, 2006


Diving is the worst thing about football and basketball. I especially can't stand to see it in basketball when some 300-pound freak supposedly gets tossed across the floor by some other guy's little finger.

I'd be fine with the dives if it meant the diver had to sit some time out to prove he was injured. If he'll go that far, maybe I'll believe he was actually hurt or at least quite desperate for the call.
posted by pracowity at 2:28 PM on June 10, 2006


Often it is because it hurts!
posted by A189Nut at 2:39 PM on June 10, 2006


I assume part of the overly theatrical nature of the soccer dive is due in part to the potential distance between player and referee. Like an actor playing to the back of the house.

Frogan, would you rather each round of the pro basketball playoffs be one game, winner take all? Would you find that an accurate gauge of the teams' abilities?

And what afx237vi said.
posted by schoolgirl report at 2:44 PM on June 10, 2006


It's just part of the game, the way that fights are the norm in NHL pro hockey (at least since Fox bought the rights in '93 or so) but nearly unheard of in college hockey.

In Italy, you can get a radio simulcast to the TV broadcast that is a comic commentary on the game, and they make much of the flopping players, using sound effects such as drills and saws when the doctor is examining them, and so forth.

Europeans definitely have a different attitude towards sports when compared to your usual American sports fan.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:49 PM on June 10, 2006


Europeans definitely have a different attitude towards sports when compared to your usual American sports fan.

you can say that again
posted by the cuban at 3:01 PM on June 10, 2006


The NBA has had plenty who practice the art. Remember the "Laimbeer flop"?

It makes a difference when it's someone on "your" team, however. I used to not care much for the antics of Carlos Ruiz (his nickname "El Pescadito" -- "the little fish" -- is in large part due to his reputation for flopping), who is a master of it...I mean I watch the guy from a few feet away and it's like he stepped on a land mine or something. Truly a sight to see.

Now that he's with FC Dallas and is "our guy", I have come to enjoy this maneuver a lot. Sometimes he gets called for it, other times the refs will ignore actual fouls against him because his reputation precedes him, but many times its golden either way. Again with the NBA analogy: he drives hard to the net every time, and generally will either score or draw the foul. There is a great deal of style to it, in any case.
posted by First Post at 3:45 PM on June 10, 2006


A 2-1 soccer match is the same thing as a 14-7 football game. Most people don't complain about that.

And the person who said that soccer is like a coin toss needs to get their head of out their arse.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 3:56 PM on June 10, 2006


I always thought that it was a stereotype that Americans didn't like football because there were 0-0 draws. Evidently not.

SWE v T&T was indeed an excellent nil-nil draw, but to the comments about 'why don't they just have a penalty shoot-out and DECIDE' I would give three answers:

1. Because then T&T would only play one game, whereas with the group stages they are guaranteed three, even if they get tonked 8-0 in each one.

2. Because competition does not mean someone always has to win - sometimes competition ends in an honourable sharing of the spoils.

3. Because 0-0 can sometimes be a triumph - I was at Old Trafford when my lowly Exeter City held mighty Manchester United to a 0-0 draw, at it was (to use the commentator's cliche) our cup final. 0-0 was a famous victory, and made the front pages as well as the back the next day.

And finally, wasn't it an American sports writer who wrote "For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, He marks -- not that you won or lost -- but how you played the Game"?
posted by athenian at 4:05 PM on June 10, 2006


There are 64 teams and 61 games in the NCAA Tournament.

Correcting my own error -- 64 teams and 63 games. Carry on.
posted by frogan at 4:37 PM on June 10, 2006


I also hate diving in football. Saviola just did a horrendous dive in Argentina's match against the Ivory Coast that cost a player a yellow card. I've always thought that leagues and tournaments should review tapes and give a one game suspension to any player that blatantly dives costing the other team a card or penalty.
posted by sic at 4:58 PM on June 10, 2006


Some things that have and have not been mentioned:

The kind of injury that you get from football (soccer) isn't common in other sports. You may be pushed or pulled in basketball, but you don't usually get kicked really hard on your knees. Those things hurt badly.

Of course, some countries and players fake a lot, because the rules favor it in several ways. First, the clock doesn't stop, so if you're winning, you can not only regroup and get a rest, but also waste a bit of real match time. Second, since so few goals are scored, a single free kick in a good position can win you the match. Third, the field is large and the play distributed. The referee usually isn't that close to the action and there is a lot to look at. That means you get away with much more than you do in say basketball.

Regarding Trinidad and Tobago, they have every reason to celebrate. Just getting to Germany was a great victory for them. I am swedish and this game was painful to watch.
posted by springload at 5:35 PM on June 10, 2006


Why does the tackled player always cheat by putting the ball down as far forward as possible rather than where he is holding it when he's brought down?

If one of his knees has touched the ground, he's cheating by trying to get the refs to place the ball further downfield than he actually got.

If one of his knees hasn't touched, he isn't cheating. The next play starts at the spot where the ball was when the ball carrier was tackled, so reaching forward gets some extra yardage. (See this famous play from Super Bowl XXXIV.)
posted by kirkaracha at 6:37 PM on June 10, 2006


I think it's an American thing that there always has to be a winner and winning is only determined by who has a higher number.

It's a gradeschool outlook.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 6:39 PM on June 10, 2006


I think it's an American thing that there always has to be a winner and winning is only determined by who has a higher number.

Look, I'm sorry you got picked last for the team. But cheer up -- I'm sure you've got a really pretty face and a good sense of humor.

Yeesh. We're specifically talking about competitive sports. We're not talking about guys playing football in the park. If there wasn't a winner, it wouldn't be competitive sports, would it?
posted by frogan at 8:15 PM on June 10, 2006


I can't quite agree there, DieHipsterDie. The concept of a winner and a loser is central to sports, and has been at least as far back as the ancient Olympiads. Even the World Cup ultimately ends up with one winner, no?

If believing that there has to be a winner is a gradeschool outlook, then the entire concept of team sports must be considered as such - which is, I admit, an argument that could be made, but one to which I do not subscribe.
posted by John Smallberries at 8:21 PM on June 10, 2006


On preview, frogan nailed a point I failed to make - that this is about competitive sports. I should have said that "The concept of a winner and a loser is central to competitive sports,..."
posted by John Smallberries at 8:25 PM on June 10, 2006


Wait, where are there siblings kissing?
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:37 PM on June 10, 2006


Trinidad today was expected to lose. For them to draw and get 1 point was a victory for them. Even though the game was a tie.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 9:01 PM on June 10, 2006


Yes the concept of winner and loser is very central to soccer too, but it's also true that even a draw can be entertaining, as a match with one or two goals only. As long as there is still a lot of action going on and the low score wasn't out of stalling or overcautious tactics.

Even if you're not an obsessive futbol fan who gets a mental orgasm just thinking about the technique of this or that player, there's the almost-goals that hit the goalposts, kicks that looked like they could have been in but miss the target altogether, goalkeeper virtuosities, tackles and tactics and so on, and all that without counting the huge social participation element. And the fouls. And the diving.

If it was all and only about scoring, it'd be much more boring. Penalty kicks deciding a match are thrilling in a russian roulette kind of way, but they are not the game. It's so crap when it ends in penalties because it's just a lottery and it invalidates how the teams actually played.
posted by funambulist at 9:18 PM on June 10, 2006


Slight derail, but I've often heard Americans complaining about soccer that it's boring.

Which is fair, as long as you understand that when they complain that it's boring, they're actually complaining that it's not boring.

American like sports with high scores and continual scoring. Baseball for instance seems to be a sport you can walk away from, get a beer, go to the bathroom, etc., and you can guarantee that unless it's "bases loaded, bottom of the ninth" or whatever, you won't be missing the crucial second that makes the difference between victory and defeat. It's a game that requires a different sort of attention.

With soccer, on the other hand, for those ninety minutes, every second counts and so for a lot of games, you've got nailbiting edge-of-your-seat tension for most of the match.

England-Paraguay was a nil-nil draw too, if you ignore that crucial 0.9 seconds when England got a goal in and won.

So when Americans say it's boring, they're really complaining that they have to give it their full attention. They're not used to that.

Also, of course, there's the puzzle that "a nation which prides itself on its virility needs to strap on forty pounds of protective gear just to play rugby" (© Joss Whedon). Soccer injuries hurt. Have you suffered one? Thought not.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 11:55 PM on June 10, 2006


Couple three things— The flopping in basketball is different because the refs are far more likely to call fouls, and the game is set up to include stoppages in play.
The difference between soccer and football isn't finess versus brute force, but rather continuous versus continual. There's far more fluidity in soccer.
The argument that padding makes football players wusses is retarded. In 1905, Teddy Rosevelt interceded to make padding mandatory after 18 people died playing (when there were only eight college teams in the country). No matter how brutal rugby is (and I'm not denigrating rugby), you don't have roughly a quarter of the players dying in a year. You would if there wasn't any pads in football.
"So when Americans say it's boring, they're really complaining that they have to give it their full attention. They're not used to that."
Bullshit. A baseball game can change with every pitch. The argument that soccer is somehow different is bunk. Further, most of soccer's boring parts are the interminable changes of possession back and forth at midfield. Well, that and watching an hour and a half where no one scores (you know, the only accomplishment that really counts when the game is over). Baseball exists at the far edge of strategy over improvisation in sports, with the continuum shifting through football to soccer and hockey (then basketball at the other end).
My complaint with soccer is the same one that I have with hockey— I don't think it's well-suited to TV. While occassionally I'll be captivated by individual performances, I tend to be much more interested in seeing plays develop as players come down the field, and because of the size of the pitch, it's hard to show that in an encompassing way (moreso with hockey, where the difference between seeing a game on TV and watching it in person is huge).
And finally, soccer is probably the most popular sport in the class of love-to-play/hate-to-watch. Given the choice for a pickup game, I'd take soccer over any other sport available (except maybe kickball). On television, I'd watch it before golf but after tennis.
posted by klangklangston at 12:42 AM on June 11, 2006


Baseball for instance seems to be a sport you can walk away from, get a beer, go to the bathroom, etc., and you can guarantee that unless it's "bases loaded, bottom of the ninth" or whatever, you won't be missing the crucial second that makes the difference between victory and defeat.

Spoken like someone that doesn't understand baseball. ;-)

I'd argue that every pitch in a baseball game is loaded with more meaning than you realize. George Will, who is mostly known for his politics, is also a famed baseball writer, and he once wrote (I'm paraphrasing) that there's barely enough time between pitches for all the strategizing and communication going on between the players and coaches, and then every action -- a pitch, a hit, stealing a base -- takes place in the space of a few seconds. Baseball isn't slow or boring. Quite the opposite -- baseball is a game of blinding speed.

I've often heard Americans complaining about soccer that it's boring.

It's not boring. I, for one, love it. I just hate the philosophy that tied matches are OK, as if a draw were some kind of "moral victory" that has to be accounted for via a specialized scoring system in group play.

I mean, can anyone tell me that the Trinidad/Sweden match wouldn't be more thrilling if it went to a sudden death overtime, or penalty kicks? Dude, Trinidad played their hearts out for a nil-nil, and we're going to DENY them the chance to win it all? Pat 'em on the back and congratulate them for almost winning?

And for what, exactly? Because a draw is the nice thing to do? Because it's traditional?

Also, of course, there's the puzzle that "a nation which prides itself on its virility needs to strap on forty pounds of protective gear just to play rugby

The pads aren't there to protect you. You wear them so you can hit people harder.
posted by frogan at 12:49 AM on June 11, 2006


I mean, can anyone tell me that the Trinidad/Sweden match wouldn't be more thrilling if it went to a sudden death overtime, or penalty kicks?

Yes. Most people who follow football, I think.

Despite the fact that football's moved to resolving finals (and qualifiers) on penalties, most people I know prefer the old situation where a match was replayed, and settled on merit, rather on the lottery of penalties. I'm guessing though that wouldn't appeal much to you.

Draws don't stop football from being a competitive sport - there's still a world cup winner, there's still a league winner, despite the draws. The competition's the whole thing, not each individual game. Follow this 'there must be a winner! We must have a winner!" idea and you end up wanting a goal from every play, because after all, what's the point if it just ends in a goal kick.

And draws make the competition overall more interesting in that they make the outcome of the group stage more uncertain, and more likely to come down to the final match.

That all said though, divers are scum, and there should be a rule that if a player feigns injury the other side are allowed to kick them repeatedly until they have a proper injury of rough equivalence to the one faked.

You should try watching cricket, you'll love that. Five days of play, ending in a draw...
posted by reynir at 1:34 AM on June 11, 2006


Dude, Trinidad played their hearts out for a nil-nil, and we're going to DENY them the chance to win it all?

T&T had 90 minutes of chances to win the game - they didn't. But they didn't lose, either. You take your mates to play against a national team of any sport and fail to lose - you'll be happy as Larry and twice as loud, so stop trying to pretend you don't understand why a team from a tiny nation are happy not to have been beaten by a team from a country with a strong footballing heritage.

And get off the siblings kissing thing - it's even more ignorant that your opinions on football.
posted by benzo8 at 2:09 AM on June 11, 2006


Baseball is loaded with meaning that I don't recognise? Of course it is.

A baseball game can change with every pitch? Of course it can.

But come on. There's no such thing as a baseball game where you could take your eye off the game for any given three-second period and miss the moment that won or lost the game.

The game is made up of the consistent scoring of points. People talk about baseball and basketball in terms of numbers, percentages, averages, statistics (even in this thread), because there are a huge number of data points. And I have to say, the same is true of cricket. Cricket you can take your eye off for an entire day and not miss anything crucial.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:34 AM on June 11, 2006


...I just require a bigger statistical sample if I'm to believe that the winning team was the better team. To me, a game of soccer just looks like an incredibly nimble and athletic coin toss.

Completely agreed.

That, and the passing the ball back and forth to run the clock out. Is there anything more cowardly than running the clock out? Even diving requires at least a certain degree of timing and acting ability. But what pains me about soccer, (and football, and basketball, and... well, pretty-much every other sport except Marvelous Baseball) is that you can score a point, then (theoretically, at least) simply hold on to the ball for the rest of the game. What kind of sportsmanship is that?

You play until you win. That's what separates "professional" sports from "palling-around with your mates."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:34 AM on June 11, 2006


And on (non) preview:

People talk about baseball and basketball in terms of numbers, percentages, averages, statistics (even in this thread)

Funny you should mention statistics. Can you tell me who has the most career goals in their lifetime without resorting to Google? Could you tell me how many goals that was? Now, can you tell me who has the most goals in a single season of play? And how many?

I ask this not to be a nuisance (honestly!) but to illustrate an observation about the fundamental differences between all sports and baseball in particular. Those statistics above could be recited instantly by any baseball fan, and an almost never-ending number of other seemingly-useless statistics to boot. It's one of the things about baseball that I love so much.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:41 AM on June 11, 2006


"But come on. There's no such thing as a baseball game where you could take your eye off the game for any given three-second period and miss the moment that won or lost the game. "

Uh... No. You can look away for not even a full second and miss the pitch that decided the game, either in run or in strike-out. Perhaps you're just not used to really giving a game your full attention? You know, you TV-addled foreigners.
posted by klangklangston at 7:31 AM on June 11, 2006


I might be wrong on this, but American football seems to be more of a 'brute force' sport than soccer, which is more of a 'footwork and technique' thing.

Actually, it's both. If an offensive lineman takes a step with the wrong foot at the beginning of a play, he'll miss his block on the defender and the defender will hit the quarterback. If a cornerback takes a wrong step or even just turns his head the wrong way, the wide receiver he's covering will run past him for a big gain or a touchdown.

On many passes, the quarterback throws the ball to a spot that's not on the reciever's path. He throws the ball to where the receiver is going to be after making a turn. Then the receiver makes a catch and is tackled half a seond later by a defensive back. And the NFL is so fast that that counts as wide open.

Despite the fact that football's moved to resolving finals (and qualifiers) on penalties, most people I know prefer the old situation where a match was replayed, and settled on merit, rather on the lottery of penalties.

Losing a game on something arbitrary, like penalty kicks in soccer or a field goal in American football, is the punishment for not winning the game in regulation time.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:46 AM on June 11, 2006


Penalty kicks? Ugh. Why not just decide the game on a coin toss? I'm not wild about 0-0 ties, but I'll take that any day over frickin' penalty kicks.

I think American football handles the tie at the end of regulation best. Play one more period of sudden death overtime, and if the score's still tied, then just admit there wasn't a better team today. And that's what's funny about this "one team must win" mentality. Nearly every North American sport, even baseball, allows for ties (hockey used to but now they wuss out and decide on penalty shots -- ugh).

So, anyway, one should probably have some big dude kick one in the shins as hard as he can before complaining about soccer players' pain threshold. And one should also have some 300-lb (that's 136 kg, or 21 stone) dude body slam one after running into each other as fast as you can before complaining about the 40-lbs of armor those "wuss" American football players wear.

So, ignorant dicksizing all around, I guess.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:37 AM on June 11, 2006


Well apparently a huge part of the world understands and loves something about soccer that the US doesn't.

My guess is the rest of the world is just doesn't know any better.

Anyone know how many minutes of commercials there are during your average baseball game?
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:47 AM on June 11, 2006


My guess is the rest of the world is just doesn't know any better.

Exactly :) If soccer is not as popular in the US, there must be something wrong about soccer, just like if American football or baseball is not as popular in Brazil, there's something wrong about Brazil.

No wait... all this ignorant dicksizing is confusing me, damn.
posted by funambulist at 11:16 AM on June 11, 2006


I think American football handles the tie at the end of regulation best. Play one more period of sudden death overtime, and if the score's still tied, then just admit there wasn't a better team today.

Actually the coolest OT format is in college football. Each team gets to start a drive at the opponents 25 yard line (which is in really good position to score at least a field goal). The second team with the ball has the opportunity to match what the 1st team scored to force a 2nd (or 3rd...) OT. If they don't, they lose. If they beat the score, they win.

Sudden death is lame because usually the first team with the ball can kick an FG and win. The coin toss oftentimes settles the game. Plus there's always the chance for a tie, which is totally unacceptable.
posted by b_thinky at 12:00 PM on June 11, 2006


Nearly every North American sport, even baseball, allows for ties

No, sorry, that's incorrect. There are no ties in baseball.*

As for the whole penalty-kick, coin-toss issue, I think it's handled exceptionally in baseball, since both teams are permitted the chance to score runs in an inning. So you never have the problem of "first team to score wins... nya, nya!" If a team scores a run, the other team still has a chance to either tie it up (and extend the game) or out-score them. This happens all the time.

* The only exception to this rule is if it is impossible to continue the game due to extraordinary conditions. In which case, the game might be tied at that point, but is not counted in the standings until a rematch is played. The other exception to this is Japanese baseball, which (IIRC) does allow for ties. Which means the Japanese don't get it either. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:22 PM on June 11, 2006


For some reason I don't mind ties in combat sports like boxing or martial arts. There is a certain glory in beating the shit out of each other to a bloody and gruesome draw.
posted by b_thinky at 5:47 PM on June 11, 2006


Actually the coolest OT format is in college football.

Totally agreed there. I was an hour late for something once because I got stopped in a bar watching a nothing bowl game between two teams I had never heard of, just because it went to OT and it's "can you top this" format.
posted by frogan at 6:54 PM on June 11, 2006


The only exception to this rule is if it is impossible to continue the game due to extraordinary conditions. In which case, the game might be tied at that point, but is not counted in the standings until a rematch is played.

Tomayto, tomahto. Rule 4.10(d): If each team has the same number of runs when the game ends, the umpire shall declare it a "Tie Game." It doesn't count in the standings, but all individual statistics count and the game is officially recorded as a tie. In 1996 the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles played to a 1-1 tie.

Anyway, this is way beyond the topic of the question.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:58 PM on June 11, 2006


The fact that you had to go back a decade to find a tie is proof enough.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:29 AM on June 12, 2006


Well apparently a huge part of the world understands and loves something about soccer that the US doesn't.

My guess is the rest of the world is just doesn't know any better.


My theory is, it all depends on what you grow up exposed to. Most people in the US/Canada grow up watching your typical north american sports on TV - baseball, american football, hockey, basketball. There is very little exposure to soccer, except that almost every single person I know played soccer in some sort of league when they were under the age of 8. Because it's cheap, equipment wise, and the rules are very easy to learn for kids. Then they move on to the more equipment/coordination heavy sports, and soccer gets left behind. Ok, there's also the school level soccer playing as well, but I didn't know many schools that considered soccer one of the "glory" sports. :) Whereas in the rest of the world, soccer/rugby/cricket/other regional sports (ie Hurling, Gaelic Football in Ireland) take on higher precedence, because that's what was grown up with there. Things are changing now though, and kids have FAR greater access to international sports (not to mention the internet), so it should be interesting to see how interests change, if they change at all.
posted by antifuse at 4:31 AM on June 12, 2006


antifuse is right - and I remember we had this discussion before.
posted by funambulist at 4:46 AM on June 12, 2006


Civil-Disobedient: Really? 'Cause the answer I had to use Google for was (year) Billy Hamilton with 192 in 1894, and (career) Ricky Henderson with 2295. Seems to me that most baseball fans would have flunked that test. Maybe I'm just not enough of a baseball fan to have that info in my head?
posted by johngumbo at 10:22 AM on June 12, 2006


Civil-Disobedient: Really? 'Cause the answer I had to use Google for was (year) Billy Hamilton with 192 in 1894

I believe the analogy he was making was goals to home runs, not runs. Runs are considered a "lesser" stat, as runs do not always come as the direct result of a player's actions (e.g. he can be hit by a pitch, and then a following player can drive him home). When you describe a great player, you say he has "five tools," which are batting for average, batting for power, stealing bases, and two defensive considerations -- his arm and his overall defensive capability. Scoring runs is not one of the prime tools. It's counter-intuitive, I know.

In Civil-Disobedient's analogy, the answers are Hank Aaron, 755, Barry Bonds, 73. Right off the top of my head, as he described. ;-)
posted by frogan at 10:55 AM on June 12, 2006


Thank you, frogan, and yes, that's what I meant. :)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:14 PM on June 12, 2006


Well, I'm a soccer fan and I can recite something similar to the whole home run thing:

All time leading scorer in World Cup tournaments, Gerd Muller, Germany, 14 goals. All time single World Cup tournament scorer, Just Fontaine, France (in 1958), 13 goals. Nipping at Gerd's heels is Ronaldo, with 12 goals, and looks pretty certain to notch the required 3 to become all time leading top scorer.

But I'd agree that statistics are* less meaningful in soccer than most other sports. There are a few statistics that will indicate something about the game (principally number of fouls, possession, shots on goals, and a few others). But really, soccer is more "artful," by which I mean that it's harder to create a formula for how to play the game. The famed German coach, Sepp Herberger, was once asked if there are any certainties in soccer, to which his reply was "the ball is round."


*"for weenies", according to my wife
posted by Kattullus at 7:48 PM on June 12, 2006


The famed German coach, Sepp Herberger, was once asked if there are any certainties in soccer, to which his reply was "the ball is round."

Hey, I think they used that line in the beginning of Run, Lola Run (Lola Rente). I didn't know its heritage... thanks!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:31 AM on June 13, 2006


I love diving.
Seriously - I love it when these guys flop around like babies on the pitch, then get right back up.
I adds a certain comedy that lightens the intensity of some matches.
It's fun.
posted by itchi23 at 8:14 AM on June 18, 2006


Crap....I had a link to two video clips of Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat) flopping like he was shot without being touched (getting the call both times), but now I can't find it. Guess NBA players are wusses, too.
posted by inigo2 at 12:57 PM on June 22, 2006


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