I enjoy watching an occasional soccer match, especially during the Euro and World Cup tournaments. But I do have some North American biases about the game. No, not the typical complaint about low scoring. Hockey and baseball often involve only one or two points. And to me, pro basketball suffers because it’s too easy to score.
Nope, what really gets me is the flopping. The game encourages it. With free kicks and penalty kicks so important, the best play of the game might be the one in which a players fakes being fouled and so earns his team a free kick. And the best way to get the offiiclals’ attention is to be as dramatic as possible. Hence the writhing on the field and clutching of limbs and grimacing..only to be immediately followed by a complete and miraculous recovery.
I’m Canadian. Our national sport is hockey. It’s a sport in which toughness and stoicicsm in the face of pain is as highly valued as skill. Stop a slapshot with your face? Just spit out some teeth and play on. A gash on the forehead? Get it stitched up and hop back on the ice. A player who carries on the way soccer players do would be booed off the ice and lose respect among fellow players.
I’m not saying I’m Mr. Toughness myself. And there is indeed flopping in our sports. But it’s usually done without dramatics because being able to “tough it out” is a desirable quality in the North American sports consciousness.
For soccer to truly become popular in the North American mainstream, the dramatics have to go. Anyone caught overacting should be given a card…maybe a pink one.
(Remember, we publish only once every two weeks in the summer).
Dick Moss, Editor,