Flopping, the art of theatrically "suffering" a blow from an opponent in the hopes of getting a favorable call from the refs, has long been a mainstay of soccer. It's made its way stateside, and has become such an endemic problem in the NBA that the league has had to come up with rules, toothless though they may be, to try to prevent it.
Flopping is infuriating because it's a grownup version of the kid crying to his parents to get his brother in trouble. It's a total abdication of toughness, a roll-over-and-play-dead mentality designed to gain sympathy, not intimidate. And it requires no skill whatsoever.
Now, Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavericks and perennial thorn in the NBA's side, has decided to take a closer look at flopping in connection with biomechanics experts at Southern Methodist University.
Cuban's Radical Hoops Ltd. has awarded a grant of more than $100,000 to fund an 18-month study of flopping in basketball, soccer and other sports.
“The issues of collisional forces, balance and control in these types of athletic settings are largely uninvestigated,” said SMU biomechanics expert Peter G. Weyand, who leads the research team. “There has been a lot of research into balance and falls in the elderly, but relatively little on active adults and athletes.”
The research will investigate the forces of a typical athletic collision, seeking to determine how much force is necessary for an athlete to lose his balance (and drop like he's been shot, or go pinwheeling across the pitch, or any of the other antics involved in flopping). Could the forces involved in player collisions be tracked by video or other means, thus determining who's really knocked down and who's just flopping? That's the idea behind the study.
Alas, it won't be ready in time for this year's NBA Finals, or presumably next year's, either. So get that flopping out of your systems, people. The forces of balance are coming for you.
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-