Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Is the NFL being Infected By Soccer Disease?


Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

I live in the UK and was brought up on a steady diet of our version of football that you call soccer. It used to be a man’s game with professionals braving the elements in just a pair of silky shirts and shorts that resembled hot pants, offering no protection from the weather or the physical contact from the opposition, armed with a set of studs (cleats) on their boots.

Recently however, and we’re talking over the past 10 – 15 years, the game has moved towards becoming a non-contact sport with the slightest contact being penalised with a free kick. This has encouraged players to exaggerate the force of the contact by diving or “simulation” to try to get a free kick awarded or better still, when the infringement is in the penalty area, a penalty. I call it cheating. To use a common phrase, “C’mon man!” Be a man, stay on your feet, take the contact and get on with the game.

Players also try to get opponents punished by convincing officials to brandish the yellow and red cards. It’s common place for a player to be “fouled”, spend the next minute or two writhing around in agony, his teammates shouting at the ref about what a reckless challenge it was, and holding up the imaginary coloured card. Seconds later, the injured player makes a miraculous recovery and jumps up as if nothing had happened.

The reason I am writing about this is that there appears to be an influx of this in the NFL. I believe it’s called flopping. Players react in an exaggerated manner to contact, flopping to the ground to make it appear more considerable than it was. Punters have been doing it for years but now receivers are doing it to try to get a PI call, getting up with their arms outstretched as if saying to the officials “how could you miss that?”

Players have also started throwing imaginary flags in the air, a ploy now known as flagging (well it wasn’t until now!).

Players in the English Premier League (EPL) and all around the world have made it into an art form. They get away with it because it has largely gone unpunished. The NFL needs to stamp down on it by throwing a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct or even by introducing a new penalty to stop this simulation before it becomes an epidemic. Punishing players during the game will work, so will fining the players after a game.

Until now, the world, regional and national governing bodies of soccer have not had the bottle to try to clean up this aspect of their game. I hope the NFL will not let this become an issue and nip it in the bud. Make NFL stand for No Flopping League.



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