The fine art of the dive

[Note: this is the inaugural post by “Matiok”.]

We should be able to learn a lot about cheating and rule-breaking in all adversarial contexts by examining the clear-cut transgressions we find in sports. Of all of the kinds of cheating in sports, there seems to be something uniquely annoying (or interesting? entertaining?) about diving in soccer. (It is obviously similar to flopping and diving in other sports — except in the sport of diving, of course).
And of all the spectacular dives every week in the world of soccer (many showcased on a fabulous blog, The Diving Board) this one has been garnering an unusual amount of attention lately:
Here’s what The Diving Board has to say about it:

FOR SHAME! This is a whole new level of cheating. Not only has Chile’s Bryan Carrasco taken a ridiculous flop to the turf, but he’s also forced his opponent’s hand up into his face in a pathetic and desperate attempt to win a free kick in his own half. A part of me wants to applaud him for originality, but NO! Just no.

Bryan Carrasco, if you are the future of football then god help us all…

We will talk a lot about the case of soccer diving in future posts. But for now, let’s reflect on this particular innovation in the world of diving. Is it worse than more “typical dives” where players go to the ground in search of a free kick or a penalty kick after minimal or no contact with the opposing player? It does seem quite pre-meditated, doesn’t it? Surely the player thought about this trick before the game began. Perhaps he even practiced it. If so, were other players “implicated” in his scheme? Was his coach? If the referee had been close enough see exactly what happened, the diver himself might have been red-carded (ejected from the game, thereby forcing his team to play the remainder of the game down a man). All considerations of sportsmanship, ethics, and civilization aside, was it worth that risk? Does this player really believe that referees in the future will give him the benefit of the doubt when he is involved in dubious fouls? Does the sport of soccer itself lose credibility with this kind of publicity?

8 responses to “The fine art of the dive

  1. See also Andrew Potter’s blog entry on this:

    Soccer Takes a Dive

    (Don’t bother trying to follow the link Andrew provides to his earlier piece — the link is broken.)

  2. This dive is widely discuss across the blogosphere, including here
    where I joined in the discussion.

  3. Just for fun


  4. More seriously, this dive is worse because it’s simulating something that could be a potential direct red card. It’s one thing (still not excusable) to fake contact and try to get a free kick. It’s much worse to try to get people sent off.

    I’m all for post-game video review, multi-game suspension, and public identification of cheaters like this.

  5. Great video, njwv!

    I agree with post-game video, at the very least. The official FIFA refusal to a bring its regulatory regime into alignment with the state of flagrant non-compliance is generally baffling. If you have one official running around, and often 25 yards from an infraction (and sideline officials who are generally busy checking on off-sides, and also typically up to 25+ yards from an infraction), then you must rely on a high degree of self-regulation (i.e. sportsmanship) on the part of the players. But if that has broken down, you simply have to either (a) increase monitoring, or (b) increase penalties for non-compliance; or both (which they could do with post-game stiff penalties based on video footage).

    I also think that people underestimate how much nastier diving is than most other fouls, including those that cause temporary pain to an opposing player (say, a slash in hockey). A diver is essentially accusing his innocent opponent of a crime. Player A cannot manage to outwit or outplay player B, so A accuses B of an infraction in order to gain an advantage. You’re the cheater, but you are actively accusing your opponent of cheating, because you couldn’t beat him fair and square. That’s like not getting a promotion you didn’t deserve, and then advancing a phony charge of sexual harassment against your boss in order to take her job.

  6. Is true. Cheating by falsely accusing your competitor of cheating is quite possibly the worst display of ethics imaginable.

    And I suppose you could say that the videos confirm that this has indeed damaged the credibility of the sport.

  7. I heard the other day from one of the coaches at Duke that a team from one of the southern former Soviet republics spiked the water of their Spanish competitors so that the Spaniards would fail the drug test. Doesn’t that just seem an order of magnitude nastier than simply cheating by taking drugs?

  8. Pingback: Diving in soccer is like [blank] in business | Ethics for Adversaries

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