By: Mackenzie Thirkill (@KenzieThirkill)
Soccer players fake an injury to get a free penalty kick for their team. This typically will happen when a player loses the ball to an opponent. Their natural instinct is then to flop on the pitch, as if the victim of a horrible foul that appears to have caused a career-ending injury. The player will grab his ankle or head in a state of theatrical paralysis until the referee stops play and orders that the player be carried off the field on a stretcher. The injury lasts precisely as long as it takes the stretcher to reach the touchline. Once off the field, the player bounds out of the stretcher, fully recovered, and ready to rejoin the game at the next opportunity.
Over the weekend it was suspected that football players were faking injuries to slow down up-tempo offenses. ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said a few days prior to the Saturday matchup between Clemson and Georgia to “look for more fake injuries by the defense…I’ve talked to defensive coaches. These guys are actually practicing faking injuries in practice.”
The University of Georgia along with Northwestern University were both scrutinized for having defensive players deliberately fake injuries in order to slow down their opponents.
Three years ago, the Cal Bears were under fire when defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi admitted to instructing his players to fake injury in order to slow down Oregon. Odd thing about that is Cal was the team that faced Northwestern just this past weekend when the accusations started.
Coaches such as University of Arkansas’s Bret Beilema and Alabama’s Nick Saban, believe in proposing a rule change that allows defensive players to substitute after each first down. Saban asked at SEC Media Days over the summer “Should we allow football to be a continuous game? Is that the way the game was designed to play? ... Is an increased number of plays that the players play in the game, is there any safety issues in that?”
On the other hand Georgia’s head coach Mark Richt said at the Media Days “First of all, we all play on national TV…Our TV timeouts are — I don’t know how many minutes — three, four minutes. Seems like there’s plenty of time to rest between series.”
Both Richt and Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald share the philosophy that when a player gets hurt they need to just stay down, or else their just giving the opponent the upper hand by letting them continue play hurt.
One solution that has been recommended by coaches like Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, is that if a player is to walk off the field due to injury he must then remain on the sidelines for several plays before returning to the field. This would then be a deterrent to those faking it because they would then lose playing time, but would also weed out the real from the fake.
Unfortunately for coaches who believe that intentional flopping is occurring there is no way to prove it, unless such rule is instated. The distinction between being really injured and faking it are hard to tell. Referees are there to officiate the game not to play doctor.
Who would’ve thought American football and European football would be more alike than just a name?
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