Yet again, a professional footballer has fallen down to gain a competitive advantage under the intense scrutiny of millions of people around the world and since he benefitted from it, fist shaking and hostile debate has followed. By falling down, the player has both committed an evil attack on all that is good and pure and been targeted by a witch hunt perpetrated by haters who only want to destroy him.
As confusing as that can be, the one thing that is universally agreed upon is that diving is despicable and must be stopped. And also that failure to succeed is not tolerated.
If everyone truly hated diving, they would all boo when a player on their team goes down after getting smacked by anything less than a rabid elephant with a stun gun. Then they would boo even more when the referee awards a penalty. And more still when the ensuing penalty is scored. At home matches, all participants in the game would quiver in bladder strangling fear as the cacophony of disdain washed over them. But the vast majority of supporters ensure this doesn't happen. Instead, the fans cheer and the manager defends the accused and the resulting message to footballers young and old is crystal clear: diving can help us get results and getting results is the most important thing, so keep doing it even if we say otherwise.
If diving was truly ruining the game, we all would've stopped watching by now. Of course, under ideal circumstances it would cease to exist, but football, like everything else, does not exist under ideal circumstances. So instead of wasting endless hours arguing worthless absolutes founded in bias and ideals, let's either make it clear that diving isn't something we want or just accept that it's a byproduct of heated competition and the furious, unrelenting demand for gratifying results.
Boo your own players who do it — even if its just questionable at full speed, if you really want to make them fight to stay on their feet at all times — and scold managers who defend it, regardless of the situation. Or maybe it's time we recognize the art and skill of well executed athletic deception (like bluffing in poker), as well as the failings of goalkeepers and defenders who open themselves up to it.
And while we're on the subject, for the love of puppies, stop saying that obvious and unconvincing simulation is worthy of an Oscar. The joke is dead and that's not even how Academy Awards work.
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