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David Ramsey: Soccer gets tough with floppers. Will American basketball get tough, too?

May 18, 2017 Updated: May 18, 2017 at 8:22 pm
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Los Angeles Clippers guard Raymond Felton, left, falls after colliding with San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who was called for the offensive foul, during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Soccer has a problem with flopping, especially at the game’s highest levels.

A player barely gets bumped and responds by collapsing to the ground as if hit directly in the heart by a sniper. The acting job often fools officials, who reward the injustice. Games and seasons are altered by flopping.

Here’s the good news:

Soccer is taking strong action against flopping. The bad actors soon will face stiff justice for their antics.

Will basketball follow soccer’s lead?

To watch NBA or top-level NCAA basketball requires endurance. Defenders are usually the dramatic ones, flopping to the wooden court when jostled by an offensive player. This flopping is often rewarded by clueless officials. This reward is especially common in college basketball.

In real life, it’s uncommon for a 6-foot-8, 240-pound man to arrive flat on his back after a collision, or even a punch. In American basketball, it’s highly common for the same sized man to go crashing to the court. It’s especially common when Duke is playing.

For decades, America-first sports fans have laughed at soccer, saying it’s too slow and too lacking in scoring and too full of flopping.

APTOPIX NBA Finals Heat Spurs Basketball
Miami Heat's LeBron James falls to the floor as he goes after a loose ball against San Antonio Spurs' Manu Ginobili, of Argentina, during the first half of Game 3 in their NBA Finals basketball series, Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) 

For decades, those fans had a strong point about flopping.

Everybody, it seems, despises the floppers.

“Nobody likes it,” said Conor Casey, the former Colorado Rapids scoring star who dominated Colorado high school play while a striker at Denver South. “I don’t know why guys do it. It’s just trying to get an advantage in an unsportsmanlike way. It doesn’t do the game good.”

But the worst of the flopping days are coming to a close.

On Thursday, the FA, which oversees English soccer, announced tough rules for the 2017-18 for the bad actors who pollute the game.

When there is “clear and overwhelming evidence” to suggest a match official has been deceived by an act of “simulation” that results in a penalty, the flopper could be suspended.

The association will use a three-person panel - an ex-referee, ex-coach and ex-player – to watch video of “collisions.” If the three all believe flopping was involved, the violator will be suspended two games.

This is a wise move to protect the game’s integrity. Soccer moves too quickly for referees to make correct calls every time. And, remember, these soccer floppers rank up there with Daniel Day Lewis in acting skills.

But the acting is easy to see in slow motion. Soccer is headed to better days. I expect this wave of action against flopping to catch on all over the world.

The NBA has taken steps against floppers, but it takes a long time for the league’s rules to form real teeth. The floppers are hit with a series of fines before suspension.

Meanwhile, flopping has become a religion in the college ranks. Bodies fall constantly, usually with only minor contact.

Basketball flopping has a long history. In 1963, Celtics guard Frank Ramsey celebrated his long career as a pioneer flopper. His flops helped the Celtics win seven titles.

“Drawing fouls chiefly requires the ability to provide good, heartwarming drama and to direct it to the right audience,” Ramsey wrote in Sports Illustrated. ‘I never forget where the referees are when I go into an act. With any luck, the foul I deserve will be called on the other guy.”

It’s time for basketball to deal harshly with Ramsey’s descendants.

England has the right idea. Get tough – and get tough quick – with soccer cheaters.

American basketball should embark on its own clean-up campaign.

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