Monday, June 23, 2008

Are these football players just a bunch of big pansies ?

What I'm referring to is the constant grounding of a football player caused by:
  1. An overly aggressive tackle from an opposing player - a foul
  2. A minor touch from an opposing player that causes the "victim" to exaggerate impact and dive acrobatically to the ground
  3. No contact whatsoever, but one which may be close enough to fool the referee with a fake dive.
However, it's not just the fall, it's the level of pain and agony expressed by the fallen player that comes into play, such as:
  1. Player grips ankle, leg or foot and writhes around in surely the worst pain of the lives
  2. Player's neck snaps back as if Mohamed Ali has just delivered a right hook and broken the player's nose - what, no blood ?
  3. The player legitimately looks like he's in some pain from a twist and severe impact with hard parts of another player.
  4. The player knocks heads with another player - ouch that hurts !
There are of course lots of permutations and combinations of the examples above and the issue is rather complex, but the majority of incidents do appear to be grossly exaggerated by today's professional football players. I've heard some explain the phenomena as like fighting in hockey, it's an unfortunate part of the game, but one that's perhaps rather tricky to eliminate and one we unfortunately tolerate. I know, I know hockey fans, the two phenomena are very different, but as a sports fan, I can see how the basic comparison may be valid. That is, we don't like to see a player dive or a fight break out, but we tolerate it because we love the sport so much and we can overlook their imperfections. As the old saying goes, I'm not going to cut my nose off to spite my face. I love football, so I'll put up with the silliness.

I would like to say however, that having played a little footy in my time and been involved with a few other contact sports, if you're kicked or kneed or otherwise poked by an 'ard body part, it bloody hurts. Keep in mind that there is very little protection worn by a football player. With the slow motion, close-up replays these days, you can tell that some of the hits are quite severe and perhaps warrant the victim's reaction. On the other hand, the same replay shows just how ridiculous some of the faking and exaggeration is as well.

So, the fans have just finished watching the Euro quarter finals and are eagerly awaiting the mid week semis. I would say the refereeing has been quite good and I believe a fair number of yellow cards have been issued for diving. This seems to be a good practice these days and if used more regularly could help reduce the problem.

As for the quality of the footy when players are on their feet - I think it's been marvellous. I think there's really only been a few dull games and most have been close contests with action right up to the last seconds of play. There have been a fair number of upsets, but you can't argue that the 4 teams remaining are worthy contestants.

Well who's it going to be:

The solid, strong and well organized Germans with lots of finishing fire power.

The passionate and driven Turks who never give up.
The fast and powerful finishing of the Russians.
The delightfully skilled possession game of the Spanish.

And let's hope that the players show us their real skills rather than their play acting.


Suze20TO said...

Finally a day without a game so you have time to

I think you're right in saying that we don't like seeing dives, but I think it's the minority who don't want to see fights in hockey. I think hockey fans would miss fighting if it was taken away...not sure that fans would miss the dives and theatrics if they were taken away.

In your experience in contact sports, do you see the dives, ankle holdings and grimaces? I have witnessed broken bones and broken noses and don't remember the theatrics that are witnessed by professional soccer players.

Is it just that the players need a break or want to kill the clock? In most other sports, the clock would stop when there's a foul/injury, there's more stoppage time during the game or substitions so there's no incentive to staying down. Just a thought.

Odetta said...

Interesting to know.