Jul 15, 2014
Faking Injuries Ain’t Just for Soccer Players Anymore
It is a well-established fact that soccer players are flopping, whining babies. To borrow a phrase from Game of Thrones’ Ramsay Bolton (née Snow), soccer players are like krakens out of water—all flopsy-mopsy and nothing to be scared of at all. Seriously, tap a soccer player on the shoulder some time, he will collapse to the ground in agony.
And now, foreignball players being the role models that they are, it appears that soccer fans are getting in on the act, too. The World Cup has been plagued by reports of people getting into games in wheelchairs, only to find their legs magically cured as soon as their team scores a goal. People like this guy, who seems nice.
Or this guy, who briefly interrupted the USA vs. Belgium game, ostensibly to protest corruption in Brazilian public spending on the World Cup.
These people gained a tactical advantage by faking an injury, which happens so often in soccer games that we’re not even going to bother embedding a clip. Ah, but this is all part of the beautiful game, no? Well, no, soccer fans, it’s not—or in any case, you can’t really call it “beautiful.”
All sports with referees involve flopping or otherwise begging for calls, but only in soccer is it culturally acceptable to fake an injury. This is more than mildly offensive to Yr Sportsball Correspondent because the major difference between team sports and actual violent conflict is that when you get hurt in a team sport, the other side stops what it’s doing and helps you out. Because they’re not trying to actually invade your territory and kill you, see?
The culture of soccer is partially built around gaming that basic proposition of competitive sports. “But it’s the only way players can get a break!” soccer fans say, “It is very hard to run that fast for that long!” It is indeed hard to run that fast for that long, but that’s not exactly an excuse for faking an injury. If the aerobic demands of two 45-minute halves are too much for even the world’s top athletes, perhaps you should consider shortening games, rather than literally teaching players how to feign injuries from a young age.
Here in U.S. America, we ask only that our athletes be supermen (or womyn!) who are impervious to physical pain. Got a concussion on that last play? RUB SOME DIRT ON IT. Is your widdle knee wigament bwoken? SUCK IT UP, KID, THIS WILL BUILD CHARACTER. As a nation, we’ve decided that we prefer our running backs to die prematurely of CTE rather than allow them to gain a tactical advantage by faking an injury.
Does the United States have it right? Of course not. (Alternate answer: FK YEH WE GOT IT RIGHT, WHAT ARE YOU, KOMMUNIST?) But if this faking an injury thing is offensive when it happens in the stands, then it should be equally offensive when it happens on the field.
Follow Dan on Twitter.