Yesterday I watched the FA Trophy Final at a snooker club/opera house named Teatru ta’ l-Opra Aurora in Rabat. It was English football at its finest–a lot of hoofing the ball forward, long stretches of boring play, and a late (admittedly skillful) goal to spare us the horror of penalty kicks. John knows a lot more about football than me, so you can read his summary.
I’m a casual football watcher (and by football I mean soccer), partially out of frustration. At least half a dozen times a game I scoff when a player takes a ridiculous dive. When a player does stay down, he’s often feigning injury, because minutes (sometimes seconds) later he’s back up and ready to play.
As a dedicated ice hockey fan, I often scornfully mutter things like “when a hockey player goes down, it’s because he’s unconcious or lost a limb”. This is more or less true. A player will hobble, glide and even crawl to get himself off the ice under his own power if he’s capable. This is because hockey permits on-the-fly line changes, something that football doesn’t.
In essence, the football player has two options:
- Stay down and force a stoppage in play.
- Shrug it off, get up and keep playing.
If only it were that simple. The officials never penalize a player for feigning injury, so the system begets a fair amount of chicanery. Players abuse this practice to stop play for a variety of reasons (get a breather, kill some momentum and so forth).
It’s unfair to alledge that hockey players (or rugby players or whoever) are tougher than footballers. They’re just stuck with a system of rules that encourages them to dramatize minor injury.
I’ve got no idea how to fix this. I wonder what other sports do. What about rugby? I only watch one rugby game a decade, so I’ve no idea.