The 2018 World Cup has been incredible. Nothing has gone as I expected and I am loving every minute of it. The only thing that would make it better would be if the USA had qualified, but that is a post for another time. Actually, I will never write a post about that. It stings too bad.

Every 4 years soccer takes the world by storm with the World Cup. Every 4 years I have come to expect a couple of predictable posts from my social media circles.

“Nobody likes soccer! It will never be relevant in America!”

The irony of this statement always amuses me. It is so irrelevant that you find the need to comment on it? I have never understood the need to bash other sports. If we only had one sport to follow life would be boring. I love learning about other sports and I can recognize that I don’t understand the intricacies of sports I am not familiar with. There is so much strategy in baseball that I don’t understand. When people watch soccer and only see a low scoring game with guys standing around passing a ball I can see why they don’t like it. Once you understand the intricacies and the strategy, it is a different game.

“Soccer players are the worst floppers! I don’t watch soccer because of the players’ flopping.”

Yes, there are some players that flop way too much. Neymar is an elite athlete, that is an incredible soccer player. But, he flops way too much. Players like him are giving soccer a bad image. Avid soccer fans agree completely with this assessment. I am glad to see FIFA cracking down on flopping and giving yellow cards for egregious cases of flopping.

With that being said, sometimes players are accused of flopping when I feel their actions are warranted. I would ask you to close your eyes to imagine a scenario, but that doesn’t really work on a blog post.

Consider you are on a long run that has taken you over 5 miles. This is not just a jog. Several very intense sprints are sprinkled throughout your run. On top of that, while you are sprinting you have someone bumping into you constantly. About halfway through your run, you can take a 15-minute break. Outside of that, there are no stops. No time-outs and no water breaks. Now, think about how your body would respond to the bumps during the first mile of your run, compared to 7 miles into your run. As the body gets tired, the little bumps along the way become harder to manage. If you don’t believe me, take your kids to Disneyland and compare how they act going to the park compared to leaving the park. On the way, you can run them over with the stroller and they bounce back up happy as can be. On the way home, a touch from their brother can lead to a full-on temper tantrum. You know I’m right.

Soccer players flop late in the game due to pure exhaustion. According to this article by the New York Daily News, soccer players run more than any other sport:

Long games, a massive field and a constantly moving ball add up to serious distance for soccer players. STATS puts the average at 7 miles per game depending on position, and as much as 9.5 miles for some players (not including goalies, of course).

I have played in soccer games where my legs cramped up afterward and I could hardly walk. The fatigue is often overlooked. Soccer has some unique rules, that most are unaware of, that lead to this fatigue. You only get three subs in a game. This means that 8 players are guaranteed to play the entire 90 minutes (120 minutes if it goes to overtime). Also, there are no time-outs in soccer. The only way to stop play is through injury. Even then, the other team is often trying to force the injured player up so the play can resume.

I consider two things when I see a player flopping late in a game:

  1. He really is hurting as the slightest touch can cause pain when your body has hit pure exhaustion.
  2. He just needs a little bit of a break to catch his breath and provide his teammates the opportunity to run to the sideline for a quick drink of water.

There is also a bit of gamesmanship involved with flopping. If your team has the lead it makes sense to try and run out the clock as best as you can. Every sport has this same mentality. Doing what is necessary to win.

In honor of all of this flopping talk, here are some videos that show some of the best flops in all sports.

Basketball flops (consider the 2018 MVP, James Harden, is probably the worst flopper in any sport. His whole game consists of getting to the foul line as often as possible):

Amercian Football is not void of flops:

Soccer has had some pretty embarrassing flops through the years:

And, finally, Baseball has to get in on the action as well. Which is impressive considering “some New Yorkers walk a greater distance to work each day than the average player runs during a game, which is likely less than half a mile even for multiple home run hitters and fielders” (source):

In summary, I understand if you just hate soccer. It is not for everyone. Soccer is a growing sport in America and I get that some sports feel threatened as it rises in popularity. I am not here to try and make you a fan of soccer, but maybe to try and explain some of the details so I can avoid seeing your social media posts every four years as I try to enjoy the greatest sporting event in the world! Now, back to watching the World Cup.