Saturday, June 24, 2006

Flop 'n' Bawl Soccer

Because I'm surrounded by Koreans, I've been wrongfully subjected to soccer of late. Four years ago it was worse; I happened to be in Korea while they co-hosted the World Cup, an experience rather like walking into the room and seeing a beloved aunt half-naked, wasted on the floor from freebasing. Ugly in every possible way.

I was complaining to a colleague about my need for succor from soccer, and he asked why I hate soccer so much. I launched into a long rant about sportsmanship and the lack thereof in professional soccer. I pointed out that their jerseys are intentionally designed to be extremely stretchy because grasping the jersey of your opponent is both cheating and a common tactic. I told him that if he watched a World Cup match, he would, within five minutes, see one of these supposedly-world-class players faking an injuring. He did and, of course, they did.

Jonathan V. Last has expressed my objections more succinctly: the flop 'n' bawl. I hate soccer because it breeds cheaters and drama queens -- two things sports could do without.


  1. Anonymous12:48 PM

    I would tend to agree, but I would expand the latter comment to include most, if not all, professional team sports.

  2. Anonymous4:58 PM

    I couldn't disagree more!

    There have been many incidents of great sportsmanship at this World Cup, not to speak of some breathtakingly beautiful moments of team and individual skill!

  3. As I have never seen a single incident of good sportsmanship in World Cup soccer, but have seen, in every match, multiple episodes of injury-faking, I'm just going to have to assume that you and I have seen different matches.

    Injury-faking is, in my mind, a violation of sportsmanship as serious as fixing matches. Of course, much of this is cultural; indeed, I have noticed in press coverage of sports generally, when Americans use the term "sportsmanship" they mean something like "virtues of fair play and gentlemanly behavior," while when Europeans use the term "sportsmanship" then mean something like "athletic prowess." In other words, Pete Rose is kept out of the Baseball Hall of Fame for poor sportsmanship by the American definition, whereas he deserves to be inducted because of good sportsmanship by the European definition.

    Perhaps then, we are not really in disagreement? Perhaps we can agree that World Cup soccer lacks virtue, but has athleticism? Or perhaps you might offer an example of athletic virtue in World Cup soccer?

  4. I'm not a soccer fanatic by any means, but injury faking (and I can't see I've seen a LOT of it this World Cup, but then maybe I'm not paying attention) seems to be a part of sport. Therefore, I don't really consider it "un-sportsmanlike." It's like hockey: fighting is a PART of the fun! I always get impatient with those who tut-tut about the violence in hockey.

  5. Anonymous6:24 AM

    I doubt you and I can have seen different matches, as I’ve seen almost every one!

    As for the definition: sportsmanship, to me (in Ireland) certainly does mean “virtues of fair play and gentelemanly behaviour” and not “athletic prowess” – also, the Koreans are one of the most sporting (i.e. gentlemanly) teams around – be proud!

    Anyway, in this World Cup, note how every time a player is badly injured, the opposing team kicks the ball out of play to allow the injury to be treated. Not just sportsmanship, but a habitual and ingrained sportsmanship.

    As for “flow’n’bawl” soccer is played without massive protection pads* but with steel studs and violent body contact allowed once certain conditions are met (basically either shoulder to shoulder or where the ball is contacted first). Because there’s no protection except shin pads (which, I can promise, are of little assistance), what looks innocuous in slow motion replay is often actually painful.

    Anyway, the price we pay for soccer for not having 25 referees conferring every 2 minutes, different teams for goal kicks, throw ins and corners and the most tedious regulation of time imaginable is that some players try to cheat (and, as with the basketball example from the article you reference, everyone knows who these guys are) - but the game flows.

    Pete Rose, for betting on his sport in explicit violation of a code of conduct he knew about and then denying it for years could maybe get into the Hall of Fame if he begged and scraped, but anyone who goes on WWE, well......

    Finally, the whole world can't be wrong, now, can it?

    I think there's more to soccer than you're giving it credit for!

    PS: I actually love American Sports, especially American Football (although I slightly prefer, and play, rugby - no pads!)

  6. Brendan,

    Speaking of Irish sports, rugby seems to have a very well-developed sportsmanship ethic, probably because it is so easy to get stomped hard. Maybe cricket has the most codified ethic I can think of off the top of my head.

    As for American football, I'm currently living in the South and am once again wrongfully subjected to a sport. According to the locals, Jesus must have played football because, after all, He is Good, and Good is Football.

    You wrote: "Finally, the whole world can't be wrong, now, can it?"

    It has been so many, many times. Most of the world lives in tyranny. Most of the world has McDonalds. Most of the world likes David Hasselhoff ...

    David Hasselhoff eating a Big Mac while kicking a soccer ball in a dictatorship *shudder*

  7. Anonymous9:10 AM

    Oh, I really think we should leave the Hoff out of this - it could get ugly!

    Tell your American Football fanatics that, in fact, Jesus played football - ("Jesus Saves" - he was a goalie, geddit - ho ho ho!).

    Cricket's ethic is mostly excellent - the biggest is, however, that people no longer "walk", even when they know they are out.

    Golf is another with a similarly developed ethic - although, again, there are cheats.

    I suspect it's because once you put money into any sport you compromise it a little.

    Soccer cheating does look particularly pathetic, I agree.