Monday, June 12, 2006

soccer n' squeakies

dave eggers has a funny article about soccer and america in today's slate. he blames much of soccer's lack of popularity on "flopping" or faking the foul:

The second and greatest, by far, obstacle to the popularity of the World Cup, and of professional soccer in general, is the element of flopping. Americans may generally be arrogant, but there is one stance I … stand behind, and that is the intense loathing of penalty-fakers. There are few examples of American sports where flopping is part of the game, much less accepted as such. Things are too complicated and dangerous in football to do much faking. Baseball? It's not possible, really—you can't fake getting hit by a baseball, and it's impossible to fake catching one. The only one of the big three sports that has a flop factor is basketball, where players can and do occasionally exaggerate a foul against them, but get this: The biggest flopper in the NBA is not an American at all. He's Argentinian! (Manu Ginobili, a phony to end all phonies, but otherwise a very good player.)

But flopping in soccer is a problem. Flopping is essentially a combination of acting, lying, begging, and cheating, and these four behaviors make for an unappealing mix. The sheer theatricality of flopping is distasteful, as is the slow-motion way the chicanery unfolds. First there will be some incidental contact, and then there will be a long moment—enough to allow you to go and wash the car and return—after the contact and before the flopper decides to flop. When you've returned from washing the car and around the time you're making yourself a mini-bagel grilled cheese, the flopper will be leaping forward, his mouth Munch-wide and oval, bracing himself for contact with the earth beneath him. But this is just the beginning. Go and do the grocery shopping and perhaps open a new money-market account at the bank, and when you return, our flopper will still be on the ground, holding his shin, his head thrown back in mock-agony. It's disgusting, all of it, particularly because, just as all of this fakery takes a good deal of time and melodrama to put over, the next step is so fast that special cameras are needed to capture it. Once the referees have decided either to issue a penalty or not to our Fakey McChumpland, he will jump up, suddenly and spectacularly uninjured—excelssior!—and will kick the ball over to his teammate and move on.

here's the thing with you naked apes and your love of 'the authenticity of the game.' a certain lame dog food company runs an ad that implies dogs are 'authentic'--we don't cheat at fetch, blah blah blah. whoever wrote the ad doesn't spend much time with us--we are all about theatrics, lying, playing-acting, and assorted other forms of mischief. ever watch dogs play? they growl and grumble and bark as if engaging in ultimate fighting. are we really fighting? nah, it's the professional wrestling of dogs. my version of 'flopping' is playing with my squeakies. now, i am fully cognizant of the fact that my squeaky gorgilla who makes chimp noises when i bite his crotch is not really a gorgilla, nor is he really squealing in pain. that doesn't mean that i don't pounce on him with great gusto, landing on top of him and biting him repeatedly until I find just the right spot that makes the 'oooo ooooo oooooooo!' sound. then pick him up, whipping my neck from side to side, preferably while growling. it's all pretend and the more melodramatic my pouncing, shaking, and 'killing,' the more entertaining for me and my audience (and there is always an audience.) so talk all you want about the integrity of the sport, it's really all just an excuse for a little hooliganism and dressing up in funny uniforms. and, for me, a little crotch biting. flop on, naked apes!


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