Monday, July 11, 2011

Another Quick Soccer Note

Say what you will about the ref in the USA/Brazil world cup game, and she was bad.*   But she did deal with the Brazilians cartoonishly obvious time-wasting and injury faking effectively; dishing out a yellow card to the stretcher girl and adding a generous three minutes to a fifteen minute period so to give the USA it's fair chance to come back.

The game raised the question in my mind of just how much strategic advantage soccer teams actually get out of flopping or other dirty tricks.  And I have a feeling that in the aggregate it isn't actually near enough to be worth it.  I think they imagine foul play to be more beneficial than it actually is because it gives them a thrill to think so.  Success in soccer depends on guile.  Virtually every goal depends on suckering at least one defender or two, and to be a good player one needs to take pride in being a trickster.   Think of how flopping is almost as serious a problem in basketball; where good results, particularly on offense, are also primarily a reflection of how clever the players are. 

In short, diving in soccer produces a smaller version of the 'got ya sucker!' psychic microorgasm that one gets after scoring a goal. Diving therefore isn't going away unless FIFA can think up a penalty severe enough to discourage this sensation.  And it's more than fair to wonder if such a cure would be worse than the disease. 

(*Though, in truth, other countries have gotten fucked over worse than us.  Hard as that may be to believe. There's no real compelling reason to suspect a New World Order conspiracy against Team USA)

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