Flopping causes problems in basketball and football in the United States

Dhe rule has existed for almost ten years. But it is rarely used. To do that, someone in the NBA office in New York has to do the work of watching video footage of short game scenes through and analyzing what’s happening from as many camera angles as possible. But in February it happened again.

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The league issued two warnings to team members following a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies. LeBron James, America’s most prominent basketball player, and Kyle Kuzma were both fined $ 5,000. After an extensive examination of the live images, they were found guilty of having deceived the referees and whistled off as they fell for no reason while fighting for the ball.

The offense is called “flopping” in American sports language and is the equivalent of football to a swallow. A flop can have a significantly smaller impact on victory or defeat than a hit penalty on the outcome of a game, where the countless attacks on the opponent’s basket add up to an end result of often more than a hundred points.

Violation of the spirit of the sport

Nevertheless, the NBA addressed the issue ten years ago and published its own catalog of sanctions. For repeat offenders, fines gradually increase from $ 5,000 to $ 50,000 after each act. Anyone caught six times in a season faces a ban that will result in a proportional deduction in pay.

The aversion among American fans to theatrical simulation of error is nothing new. The behavior runs counter to the sporting spirit that was born more than a hundred years ago at the country’s elite universities, the elusive category of honesty, character and respect for the rules and for one’s opponent. That the ingrained cultural bias has survived for so long may come as a surprise given the conditions in international football, the world’s most popular team sport, where acting and the ability to make hidden mistakes are taught to young players from an early age.

In the United States, however, this goes against two moral principles: flop (usually called diving in football) is considered an attempt at cheating and at the same time a demonstration of physical weakness, self-pity and self-pity. True winners do not have to. That’s the theory. In practice, however, the situation is different. “Flops have been around for a long time,” said Ronnie Nunn, who used to be confronted with such misleading maneuvers very directly as an NBA referee and had to decide spontaneously whether to punish the behavior by imposing a technical foul or ignoring it.

He remembers specialists like Dennis Rodman (“He was really good at grabbing an opponent’s wrist while jumping for the ball, but at the same time pretending to be committed”) or Karl Malone (“He liked to behave under the basket , as if someone was pushing him from behind. “Today, stars like LeBron James, Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns) or Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) are notorious for their tendency to simulate.

Own cheating specialties

Therefore, there are repeated attempts to analyze and contain the phenomenon. Seven years ago, a company owned by Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, funded a research study on the subject by a group of biomechanics at Southern Methodist University in Texas. It took a while before the investigation was completed. Among other things, she deals with the kinetic conditions that play a role in the physical contact between players. It turned out that there are indicators to train judges so that they can whistle unsportsmanlike simulations on the spot: Can the intention already be recognized? Yes, for example when the flopper acts too early or with a significant delay. How do the flops move their torso and arms? These are the parts of the body with which the alleged victims are demonstratively trying to sell the alleged violation.

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