The act of diving is a modern invention in sport. Regardless of where the practice originated, it has permeated through the traditions of soccer, hockey, baseball and even the NFL. But the more amazing fact is that, in this age of instant replay and technique-focused discipline in sport, so little is being done to curtail it. On-field officials are left to their own devices to determine whether or not an athlete was illegally (legitimately) impeded against. This laissez-faire policy from the leagues needs to change. Drastically.
- Diving damages the integrity of sport, regardless of sport. There’s nothing more enraging to a fan, nothing more poisonous to the spirit of a competition than a competitor embellishing a foul. The problem is that, well, it works. Often times, a foul has to be demonstrated (or exaggerated) for a referee to see or acknowledge it. The sport where diving isn’t rampant might be…well, diving.
- Actual fouls are now being ignored. The penalty for calling fouls in soccer has an awkward slope, ranging from free kick (a slap on the wrist) to a yellow card (probation) to a red card (ejection). And with two yellows equaling a red, an official can face a critical decision in whether or not to award a free kick or penalty kick, and nobody is paying money to watch officials make decisions.
The downfield passing situation in American football is similar; an official either throws a flag for pass interference, which is a spot foul and potentially a huge swing in field position, or does nothing. And don’t even get us started on the Oregon offense.
- We have the technology available to punish players after the fact. We do this in America with late hits, non-late hits, and hits from behind. Why not fine players for simulated hits? Why not take the initiative to punish a dude playing outside the spirit of the rules? If a league or governing body can review tape of a game where everyone except the ref knew a player was being disingenuous, why not do that?
The ideal schedule for punishing divers? First offense: fine. Second offense: fine plus suspension. And if they still act up, then it’s a roster spot on the Guantanamo Bay softball team, where all the players are either pitchers or catchers. Your cousin can explain that last part to you.