Flopping is the "art" practiced by athletes in team sports of dramatically falling to the floor or the ground following minimal or even no contact from a close by opponent. A small touch to the back turns into a dive to the ground and writhing around like a player was shoved and injured.
Why do they do this? Primarily it's to try and get a foul or penalty on the opposing team because often that can turn directly into great opportunities for points or it can mean forcing a player to the bench.
Soccer has an unfortunately well earned reputation for this type of behavior. It's one thing that a lot of U.S. sports fans say the dislike most about the sport actually. I have to agree, you see it a lot. Heck, some countries even specialize in it - I'm looking at you Italy. But I don't like it.
But guess what? It ain't just soccer. No way. Basketball in particular has a lot of floppers.
Just this week, none other than LeBron "King" James was fined by the NBA for flopping in a playoff game against Indiana. See the story and the video of the flopping HERE.
The NBA itself knows this is a problem in their league. So much so that they've posted an official Flopping video on YouTube that shows flopping happening and saying what will be penalized. And flopping goes on all the time in the NBA. Check this video HERE.
So why bring this up? Two reasons:
1) I just want to hold the mirror up to a lot of self-righteous sports fans (you know who you are) who criticize soccer for it's flopping. Yes, it happens in that sport. Most people don't like it. But guess what? It happens everywhere, in particular in traditional U.S. sports like basketball.
2) It brings up the question of cheating. Flopping means many pro athletes are willing to cheat to get an advantage. And, many fans are willing to put up with it as long as it's their team getting the advantage. The first fans to boo when the opposing team flops are the first to express delight when their player does so and gets a positive result.
So, where is the line on cheating? Flopping suggests that its doing whatever you need to do in the flow of a game as long as you're not caught. Is that right? Maybe. After all, players wouldn't flop if it didn't regularly produce results - as in, a shot on goal, free-throws, ejection of an opponent. Maybe not because, well, it's CHEATING. And as for fans, where is the line. Do the masses put up or even emulate the spirit of cheating that they view in sports during normal life? If so, what does that mean? Is fan behavior on flopping in athletic contests indicative of something broader?