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[William Birdthistle, guest-blogging, May 16, 2007 at 11:02am] Trackbacks
Kulturkampf on the Soccer Pitch:

On Monday, our challenge was to figure out what soccer team the Guardian clip was skewering with its depiction of players being coached to dive, writhe, and plead for medical help. Of course, the exercise is something of a Rorschach test, since there are no identifying insignias anywhere and none of the players looks familiar. So, what are we to make of the prominence in the comments of confident nominations for Italy, Portugal, and Mediterranean nations generally?

Gross generalizations or hard-won reputations? Certainly, Northern European nations like to tell a story in which they alone uphold chivalric honor on the field against the encroachment of continental duplicity and sneakiness. This observation fits in nicely with broader cultural tales of Anglo-Saxon fair play, organizational abilities, and willingness to queue up versus Mediterranean penchants for eating dinner late, arguing about a 35-hour work week, and willingness to wear Speedos in public.

In practice (i.e., in pubs from Manchester to Munich), the argument is typically deployed with references to Mediterranean siestas, friends whose pockets were picked in [Rome, Marseille, the Algarve], and that time some guy cut the line at [the Coliseum, the Louvre, a Lisbon shrimp shack]. All of which results in this kind of behavior at the World Cup:

Of course, this isn't the only version of the story. Italian, French, and Portuguese fans are quick to point out the boorish style of English soccer, which long consisted of mindless punts towards galoots up in the box, savage tackles, and nary a whit of style or skill. Roy Keane may not go down lightly in a challenge or be willing to roll around in front of his mates, the argument goes, but he'll happily snap your shin in half.

(See also, Rooney, Wayne, and groin stamp.)

There is a certain amount of truth to both sides of this debate, as footage of English and Italian league matches from twenty years ago will bear out. Yet there has also been a good deal of intermixture in the game since then. The English Premiership today includes many more foreign players than years past, as well as huge amounts of skill and, of course, a fresh surplus of diving. The Mediterranean leagues also include many more foreigners today, a more attacking game than the catenaccio affairs of decades ago, and some serious aggression of its own. For instance:

Only the Italian league seems unwilling to welcome as diverse an array of players and styles -- and so long as the Italians keep winning World Cup and Champions League trophies, they may be unlikely to feel any need to change.

If it is true that some nations are more tolerant of diving, what accounts for that attitude? And is diving a less competitive retreat from a willingness to contend using athletic ability alone or is it, instead, a more competitive willingness to engage in total warfare where every possible advantage is used?

A variation of this discussion of social norms also extends to questions about which of these kinds of societies produce better kinds of players (defenders, goalkeepers, attackers) and officials. Here again, gross caricatures dominate pub and taverna chat about how good goalies can come only from nations with a strong ethic of defending the realm, or how only a laissez-faire society with flair can produce gifted strikers.

I suspect that these topics tie into much deeper cultural attitudes and norms that lie far beyond the scope of these few paragraphs. But, for what it's worth, many observers have pointed out that diving and faking injuries are phenomena almost wholly absent from the women's game.

While Monday's comments connected with a well-established debate about cultural observations in European soccer, Tuesday's collection revealed another, decidedly American cultural debate. That is, the effeteness of this whole game of soccer. This attitude belies a very interesting difference between America, where soccer is not a blue-collar sport, and most of the rest of the world, where it most certainly is.

In America, some commentators would have us believe that soccer is weak because players don't use their hands and there's no manly contact such as there is in football. In Europe, others would retort that American football is just rugby for people who need padding, and baseball is cricket for people who can't catch a ball with their bare hands. Without delving into the merits of these positions, if there are any, what is interesting is the apparently universal need to establish the manliness of one's native sport.

Perhaps this simply has to do with standard nativism and the common tendency to dismiss other stuff as effeminate, Communist, fascist, or whatever else happens to be the epithet du jour. But in England, the saying is that soccer is a game for gentlemen played by thugs, while rugby is a game for thugs played by gentlemen. So perhaps there's room for "evolution" in American attitudes as well.

anonVCfan:
When people argue that one sport is more challenging or physically demanding than another, it's not the same thing as saying that the sport is more "manly."
5.16.2007 12:21pm
Mark Field (mail):

This attitude belies a very interesting difference between America, where soccer is not a blue-collar sport, and most of the rest of the world, where it most certainly is.


Very true. I think this accounts for much of the uninformed anti-soccer posts here and elsewhere. Soccer in most places appeals to the same social groups as do, say, football and NASCAR in the US. It's a very physical game, far more than basketball.
5.16.2007 12:24pm
JosephSlater (mail):
First, I've very much enjoyed these soccer posts, and I'm not even a huge soccer fan. Second, in my limited experience living in Europe, I came across exactly the same types of attitudes described in this post.

There isn't much analogous in U.S. sports-fandom, I think, because the most popular U.S. sports are played by almost exclusively U.S. teams, and mostly U.S.-born players. So we don't get the "why, those foreign teams play [football, baseball, basketball] wrong/differently/less honorably than we do!"

The only exception is that in hockey and basketball, there has been an influx of European-born players. I think the general rap on them, among U.S. sports fan, is that they often play a pretty, maybe even athletic, but not "physical" (in the macho sense) style. That fits the U.S. "we're more macho than effete Europeans" stereotype. Baseball has a lot of Central American players, and there is the "Domican Republic produces great shortstops" idea, but I'm not sure that's based on a cultural stereotype.
5.16.2007 12:36pm
Mike Keenan:
Although there is plenty of flopping in American basketball and football, there is seldom any feigning of injury. Basketball players rarely writhe in pain on the court pretending to be hurt. Do players in Europe do so? In South America? I have no idea, but I doubt it.

I have never seen a child in one of my son's or daughter's soccer games dive either. I think parents would be shocked if it ever happened. Do children in other countries dive in their games? I have no idea, but I doubt it.

I enjoy watching soccer in person -- did so in Brazil quite a few times. Like most sports other than American football, I find it dull on TV though. I suppose it is generally hard to follow a game on TV unless one has a rooting emotional interest.

I don't honestly think more scoring would help, but who knows.
5.16.2007 12:57pm
Zathras (mail):
Flopping can be associated with the economic system in which one grows up. Growing up in a socialist country encourages this behavior, while growing up in a capitalist country discourages it. The reason for this is that flopping is in effect asking for a handout. A person growing up in Italy or Portugal is used to this situation, whether they worked for it or not. The American players, on the other hand, are not used to this; they grew up in a culture where most everyone has to work for what they receive, and so flopping does not come naturally to American players.
5.16.2007 1:01pm
Peter Young (mail):
The best exposition I've seen of cultural differences in football is an exchange exercepted in the archives of the Rec.Sport.Soccer newsgroup. What it also demonstrates is the great difficulty some people have in recognizing that their culture has an influence on the way they perceive football and the way it is played. The South American in the debate recognizes this; the Brit does not—and goes down fighting all the way.
5.16.2007 1:11pm
Mongoose 388:
Christian Ronaldo seemed to be featured inordinately for diving. How does he mange to score so often when he spends so much time laid out on the grass?
5.16.2007 1:17pm
markm (mail):
"baseball is cricket for people who can't catch a ball with their bare hands." Or cricket is for people who can't handle the velocity a man with a real bat can impart to the ball...
5.16.2007 1:22pm
Peter Young (mail):
Or cricket is for people who can't handle the velocity a man with a real bat can impart to the ball...

Just for an afternoon you try playing silly mid off or, better yet, silly mid on a few yards from a decent cricket batsman with only your bare hands for protection and then report back to us--if you can--about the velocity a cricket batsman can impart to the ball. You'll see how silly your comment is then.
5.16.2007 1:46pm
anonVCfan:
Mike Keenan (great name) writes: "Although there is plenty of flopping in American basketball and football, there is seldom any feigning of injury."

Not a real article, of course, but see here.
5.16.2007 1:55pm
Lou Wainwright (mail):
My favorite Rugby vs. Football comment was when we had an Australian couple over for the Super Bowl. Both had seen Australian football and Rugby and made some version of the 'pads' comment. On an early play of the game a Safety came in at full speed and took out the RB. The wife screamed and thought the RB had been killed. She simply couldn't believe the speed and violence of the collisions. By the end of the game she said she now realized that Australian football was lame.
5.16.2007 1:59pm
byomtov (mail):
because the most popular U.S. sports are played by almost exclusively U.S. teams, and mostly U.S.-born players. So we don't get the "why, those foreign teams play [football, baseball, basketball] wrong/differently/less honorably than we do!"

We get somewhat less of it now, but there certainly was a time when, for example, there were very widely held negative stereotypes about Latin baseball players and African-American basketball and football players.

The relatively recent influx of Asian players into baseball has been met with almost the opposite reaction, at least where Japanese players are concerned. Many (not just Dice-K) seem to be viewed with great admiration by fans.
5.16.2007 2:00pm
gooner:
Markm

"[C]ricket is for people who can't handle the velocity a man with a real bat can impart to the ball...."

Average baseball bat weight = 31 ounces
Average cricket bat weight = 32 ounces

Fastest fastball in baseball = about 100 mph
Fastest fastball in cricket = about 100 mph

What are you saying? Baseball batters swing their bats faster? (Unlikely.) The closest fielders are closer in baseball than in cricket? (False.)
5.16.2007 2:07pm
Peter Young (mail):
When I played the game, in the Fifties and Sixties, it would have been unthinkable to dive or feign injury to draw a foul call. If it had crossed our minds--and it never did--it would have been considered unmanly as well as unsportsmanlike. I played with and against Latin players in university and at a high amateur level and never saw them dive or feign injury, either.

But diving and feigning injury as an acceptable tactic did begin in the Latin countries. It never happened in the Northern European leagues once upon a time. The disease began to spread in the 1970s, and by World Cup 1990, Jurgen Klinsmann of Germany was regarded as one of the world's supreme divers.

Today it is almost as common in Northern Europe as in the Latin countries, I suppose on the theory that if you can't beat them, join them, and it is not only the Latin imports who do it. I blame the football authorities for this because they have consistently failed to clamp down on it. They still don't clamp down on it. In fact, you can often see referees laughing at players who try to get away with it, as if to say nice try, but you didn't fool me, and doing nothing about it because the effort at deception failed.

There do remain certain players who would rather kill themselves than dive or feign injury, but most of these are considered hard men. Until he retired recently, Roy Keane was one of them.

You never would have seen Bobby Charlton, Georgie Best or Denis Law, the three shining stars of Manchester United in the Sixties, dive or feign injury. But nearly all the skilled forwards and midfielders in England do it today. Cristian Ronaldo, the Portugese star with today's Manchester United, is one of the worst although he has the more than sufficient skill to succeed without doing it at all.

It's disgraceful and disgusting. I'd say the same even if it was always detected and punished because it makes the game an unseemly spectacle, wastes time and cheats the public out of an honest performance.

Why the authorities allow it to continue is a great mystery. As one of the referees who commented on one of the earlier posts said, diving is not that difficult to detect. Surreptitious fouls might be more difficult to see, but not if you put officials in the stands and use videotape replay after the match.

If I were in charge with dictatorial powers--ooh, I wish I were, just for a season--I'd have my minions combing the videotapes of matches for clear examples of diving and feigning injury and I'd suspend the offending twirps without pay for 30 days at a clip, 60 on a second offense and so on. The mullarkey would soon stop.

Let me say I'd be just as harsh with those who commit open physical fouls of a brutal nature. But the laws are much more uniformly enforced against those than they are against surreptitious cheating.
5.16.2007 2:19pm
itshissong:
Along the lines of Lou Wainwright's comment, I am constantly amazed at the lack of understanding that people from countries where Rugby is a major sport show with regards to the physicality/brutality of American Football. The thing that these people seem to obtusely refuse to recognize is that even though the purpose of padding is to preserve the health of the player, the padding is what allows for more massive collisions at higher speeds. The padding allows football players to drive straight through the other player while both are running at full speed in opposite directions, something that is virtually impossible is a sport like rugby.
5.16.2007 2:20pm
Mike Keenan:
"an exchange exercepted in the archives of the Rec.Sport.Soccer newsgroup"

This is a good exchange. It is a little convenient to blame cultural differences, but they certainly exist.

Now that I think about it, some of south of the border (mostly Mexican) opponents of my son did dive -- even the 9 year olds. I remember how upset the American parents were. Shocked, disgusted. Including me.

Ah, what a sense of cultural superiority I am feeling. Allow me to bask in it for a moment....
5.16.2007 2:20pm
Zathras (mail):
Lou Wainwright: My favorite Rugby vs. Football comment was when we had an Australian couple over for the Super Bowl. Both had seen Australian football and Rugby and made some version of the 'pads' comment. On an early play of the game a Safety came in at full speed and took out the RB. The wife screamed and thought the RB had been killed. She simply couldn't believe the speed and violence of the collisions. By the end of the game she said she now realized that Australian football was lame.

Perhaps not killed, but how many concussions is that excitement worth?
5.16.2007 2:23pm
David Drake (mail):
On the American football v rugby front, an Australian newspaper ran a story recently re Lloyd Carr (Univ. of Michigan's head football coach) attending a rugby match in Australia and expressing appropriate regard for the physicality of the proceedings. The article noted that Michigan competes in the NFL and that Carr has 45 players and 20 assistants.

BTW, the last two clips certainly put the lie to the complaint that there is no hitting in futbol.
5.16.2007 2:39pm
dearieme:
I don't doubt that American football is manly, it's just that they seem rather camp men.
5.16.2007 2:46pm
Mark Field (mail):

Christian Ronaldo seemed to be featured inordinately for diving.



Cristian Ronaldo, the Portugese star with today's Manchester United, is one of the worst although he has the more than sufficient skill to succeed without doing it at all.


I'm not sure if Mongoose meant his statement ironically, given his follow-up, but CR does seem to have been criticized a lot recently for diving. I see quite a few Man U games (FSC, of course), and I don't think he's particularly guilty. He actually does get fouled a lot, and I've seen plenty of those fouls not called.

I think both team and national prejudices play into the accusations of diving. Lots of fans love to hate Man U, so why not accuse him of diving? It would be awkward, of course, for the English fans to accuse Rooney of that since then they'd have to change their tune in international play. Cristiano makes a very convenient scapegoat. Also, remember that most defenders have an interest in convincing referees that forwards are diving. Their complaints should be taken with an ocean full of salt.
5.16.2007 2:50pm
billb:
gooner: From what I've seen of cricket, I think I can explain the difference. Baseball players generally swing so that the bat is horizontal as it hits the ball taking maximum advantage of the power of the hitter's legs and torso muscles. They also follow through completely (sometimes so much that they spin around and fall down if they miss). Cricketers tend to swing in a more vertical plane (to protect the wickets) and often stop the swing without much of a followthrough.
5.16.2007 2:50pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Byomtov:

I agree that U.S. sports commentary has traditionally featured a lot of racial stereotypes: the "hard-working, smart" white player vs. the "naturally talented" black player, for example. Perhaps that's what has substitued here for the sort of national character stereotypes that the original post so accurately describes.
5.16.2007 2:54pm
gooner:
billb,

That's generally true, but there are a couple of cricket shots -- the pull, the sweep, and the hook -- that are played with a horizontal bat and can generate quite some power. In addition, these shots are more likely to direct the ball towards the closest fielders, in the silly mid positions.
5.16.2007 2:58pm
NickM (mail) (www):
The stereotype on Dominican baseball players is that they have no plate discipline and will swing at anything. I've heard a number of announcers refer to it as "You can't walk off the island." [meaning that someone who waits out pitchers to draw a lot of walks will have fewer hits and thus not get noticed by an American team]

As far as the styles of play, I've always thought that what the referees at the junior level will and won't call has a great impact on how players learn to play.

Nick
5.16.2007 3:03pm
SIG357:
"the silly mid positions"

English sports has such cool names for the positions.
5.16.2007 3:09pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Although I don't follow the game, much of the terminology for cricket seems amusing to me (in a good way).
5.16.2007 3:27pm
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
The padding allows football players to drive straight through the other player while both are running at full speed in opposite directions, something that is virtually impossible is a sport like rugby

You can do that in rugby too - one time. The convalescence from the reconstructive surgery to put your shoulder back together and to bolt the fragmentary remnants of your collarbone will give you plenty of time to ponder why it is you thought rugby was such a soft, slow, sport.

Two technical points on that. At the top level, the speed of the athletes - taking into account the different types of athletes for different positions - is similar, but rugby is fundamentally aerobic so the speed of the players degrades a bit over 80 minutes of more or less constant running. Terrel Owens would look slow if he ran the equivalent of 10 miles during an NFL game, and the average top level rugby player would look silly in the weight room compared to the typical interior lineman, since they don't train to work in short, maximum power bursts. As for tackling technique, the laws of rugby require the tackler to wrap the ball carrier, precisely because an unpadded hit at full speed with no attempt to wrap has good odds of causing catastrophic injury to the tackler, and sometimes to the ball carrier as well. I think if you believe the hitting in rugby is soft, you haven't seen it at the elite level, the tri-nations competition or the southern hemisphere's SuperLeague. It is comparable, taking into account that the hitter and hittee are both unpadded, as evidenced by similar career attrittion rates due to injury. The average top level rugby career is 3-4 years, similar to the average pro football career.

Soccer on the other hand... yeah, I'd agree with assertions that it's kind of a soft sport. The North American and African styles are pretty physical and quite tough, however, and the Africans are typically quite skillful as well; the combination of skill and physicality makes the African teams very entertaining to watch.
5.16.2007 3:50pm
Peter Young (mail):
"an exchange exercepted in the archives of the Rec.Sport.Soccer newsgroup"

This is a good exchange. It is a little convenient to blame cultural differences, but they certainly exist.


I hope you read the whole page or at least most of it; the extent to which it is indeed a cultural conflict is revealed only after you read the portion headed "Cultural differences" and get into the two parts headed "Hand-balls, diving and fouls" and "Cheating, violence and corruption." Each part runs into the other and, together, they constitute a fascinating contrast in cultural values. The Latin fan (and one Japanese fan with a Latin bent) take one view, the Northern Europeans generally take the opposite view.

The Latins fans' view does not say diving, hand ball goals and surreptitious fouls are legitimate. They are perfectly content that these forms of cheating should be called when detected. But they also admire as a form of artistry in play undetected diving and hand ball goals and perhaps surreptitious fouls of a nonviolent nature, like shirt-pulling. And they definitely regard open physical fouls of violence as much, much worse than cheating. They recommend we laugh at diving--at the diver when he is unsuccessful, at ourselves when the diver succeeds against us, for then the joke is on us.

As one brought up in English football and with English attitudes, I at first found it hard to believe--as at least one of the participants in the debate does, the Brit, and as you apparently do--that anyone could sincerely hold these views and that they could honestly be ascribed to cultural values. But on reflection, I believe it is so, and that it is inaccurate to say, as you do, that "[i]t is a little convenient to blame cultural differences."

Convenience has nothing to do with it; and the Latin fans are not blaming cultural differences for anything. They do not believe their view is to be blamed on anything; they believe their view is the proper one. If anything, they believe their view is to be credited to their culture. At the same time, they recognize that people from other cultures will feel differently, and they do not expect them to agree.
5.16.2007 4:02pm
itshissong:
You can do that in rugby too - one time. The convalescence from the reconstructive surgery to put your shoulder back together and to bolt the fragmentary remnants of your collarbone will give you plenty of time to ponder why it is you thought rugby was such a soft, slow, sport.

I really don't think of rugby as "a soft, slow, sport." I hope that isn't how I sounded in the post above. I was actually responding to the literally dozens of times that I have heard people who are from Europe or are rugby fans or both denigrate football as "a soft…sport." I was just pointing out that while rugby players wear no pads, football players' pads allow them to hit harder at higher speeds. As you said, I think that these differences even things out in a certain sense and that the two sports are comparably manly or brutal or whatever term people want to use.
5.16.2007 4:12pm
Peter Young (mail):
SIG357:
"the silly mid positions"
English sports has such cool names for the positions.



JosephSlater:
Although I don't follow the game, much of the terminology for cricket seems amusing to me (in a good way).


mikeyes from an earlier post the other day:
Cricket is a fascinating sport, especially the One Day version, if you are a stats freak. The problem is that it has position names like "Silly Mid Off" which conjurs up visions of pederastic English public schools.


The number of people who feel the subject matter of this thread calls for comments about homosexuality or sex in general is rather amusing. It seems that the first association some people make when confronted with a sport that is foreign to them is with sexual identity. It's as if foreign sports threaten their sexual security. It's nice to see some people, apparently more secure, can appreciate the different and even the strange without feeling threatened.
5.16.2007 4:22pm
ShelbytheIntern (mail) (www):
Well, ideally-itd be great if people werent fakers, but soccer is still the greatest sport in the world. Maybe this is all just a phase of the times. Who knows.

Curious? Check out Christopher Ruddy
5.16.2007 4:24pm
Peter Young (mail):
CR does seem to have been criticized a lot recently for diving. I see quite a few Man U games (FSC, of course), and I don't think he's particularly guilty. He actually does get fouled a lot, and I've seen plenty of those fouls not called.
I think both team and national prejudices play into the accusations of diving. Lots of fans love to hate Man U, so why not accuse him of diving?


In fact, Cristian Ronaldo has had less criticism for diving this season than in prior seasons. His reputation for diving was well-established before this season and it was well-deserved. A player doesn't get rid of such a reputation in a single season.

I stand by my comment that he has been one of the worst offenders as far as diving goes. But he has toned it down this season. Perhaps that is partly because of all the fuss surrounding his World Cup performances for Portugal last summer. Or perhaps at last he has realized that he has so much talent he doesn't need to dive. Or perhaps the longer he is away from his native Portugal, land of divers, the less he will dive.

My comment cannot fairly be ascribed to team prejudice. I've been a Manchester United fan for 60 years, following in my father's and both my grandfathers' footsteps. I was born within five miles of Old Trafford and spent my boyhood within 10 miles of it.
5.16.2007 4:48pm
Mark Field (mail):

My comment cannot fairly be ascribed to team prejudice. I've been a Manchester United fan for 60 years, following in my father's and both my grandfathers' footsteps. I was born within five miles of Old Trafford and spent my boyhood within 10 miles of it.


Point taken.
5.16.2007 8:37pm
A.S.:
Or maybe C.Ronaldo realized that other players who do not dive (*cough* Messi *cough*) are just superior and he wants to try to get to that level.
5.16.2007 8:51pm
itshissong:
Speaking of Messi. Check out this goal from the semifinal of the Copa Del Rey against Getafe. Unreal.
5.16.2007 10:08pm
byomtov (mail):
JosephSlater,

Perhaps that's what has substitued here for the sort of national character stereotypes that the original post so accurately describes.

That was a big part of my point. I do think that in baseball we see some national character stereotypes. These are diminishing with respect to Latin players, but I get the impression that Japanese players, in particular, are viewed as knowing ancient mysterious secrets of the East.
5.17.2007 12:15am
Peter Young (mail):
On cultural differences, deference must be given to Ian Rush, the Liverpool legend who had trouble settling at Juventus in Italy. Of his stay in Turin, Rushie said, "It's like living in a foreign country."
5.17.2007 1:15am
Avatar (mail):
A possible solution for diving... why not simply assume that any act is evidence of a real injury, and remove the player from the game on the grounds that he's injured? Absolutely doesn't punish actual injuries (you'd have to come out anyway), but it's a big incentive to keep the hysterics to a minimum if the cost of doing so is spending the rest of the game in the stands. Furthermore, it'd be easy to ram through the various ruling bodies of the game, on the grounds that "it's important that we ensure that injured players receive immediate medical attention under every circumstance" or similar bull. Everyone will know what the point is, but you can justify it under terms that are hard to oppose...

So long as we're talking about broad national sports stereotypes, the Japanese, and mysterious secrets... don't believe the hype. Japanese baseball's just not the same game, man. The only reason that an American expat doesn't hold the Japanese home run record is because, with one HR to go and three games left in the season, his team played the team managed by the current record holder, Sadaharu Oh. Son of a (deleted) intentionally walked the slugger -every at bat- for three games to keep him from breaking the record. Can you imagine someone trying that on Sosa? You'd get lynched by your own fans!
5.17.2007 1:33am
Rodish (mail):
I started to get soccer only after I started playing again as an adult.

The defenders have the advantage, the game is long and becomes a matter of erosion. Even if attackers do something brilliant, they will almost always fail against a focused defence. To score, an attacking team must be very good over and over and over again. The defenders' task is to never lapse mentally, because one blonde moment can cost your team the game. If teams are even roughly similar in skill the game becomes a test of will and character. A weaker team or player can credibly say to an opponent "You may be better at this than I am. But not today."

One might decrease the effect of referees' calls on soccer games by increasing the number of goals scored, but at the cost of removing the element of randomness from the outcome. If many goals are scored, the side that tends to score more often will almost always win. If few goals are scored, the law of large numbers isn't in force and the game must be played to know the outcome.

All of which means, penalize diving more effectively; if players have an incentive to dive less, referees will matter less.
5.17.2007 4:05am
JosephSlater (mail):
Byomtov:

I think we agree completely.
5.17.2007 10:58am
Mark P. (mail):
I frankly don't understand the comments that culture does not affect play -- and, particularly, the view of playing within the rules. By definition, our relationship to rules is part of our culture, and there are very distinct cultural norms regarding our relationship to rules. Soccer is just one example. Yet, of course, generalizations don't define all specific events. So, Latin players can shun diving, and English players can dive. In general, however, Latin players and English players (and fans) have different perspectives on diving.

Perspectives aside, I'm all about rules. So, the rule should be: injured players must leave the field for at least __ minutes. Also, the pk spot needs to be moved further back, to make the role of the official less intrusive.

Love the posts, by the way.
5.17.2007 12:16pm