Canadians Talking Tech

Why diving in soccer?

by Noah Bloom Posted in Sports

I tweeted last week for help to understand diving in soccer. I treasure international sporting competitions like the World Cup, and well, there’s little like the World Cup. But I have a difficult time not finding myself very frustrated during the seemingly wussy behaviour when a player sobs and grits his teeth while rolling on the grass in anguish after a little fall to the ground:

Please help. I want to love this World Cup, but how can I get over when these wimps are rolling on the ground, crying & gritting #worldcupless than a minute ago via HootSuite

Just Like This
Brazil’s Rivaldo in 2002:

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo in 2006:

What I’ve Learned
I got some useful replies, but basically theatrics are just as important a part of soccer as fighting is a part of hockey, and you just have to get used to it. John Doyle (MisterJohnDoyle on Twitter) wrote a great piece in The Globe and Mail:

The fact is, in some countries, mainly Latin nations, soccer is as much theatre as it is athletic endeavour.
They are men. They intend to win. By any means necessary.
The World Cup is the biggest sports event on the plant. Applying our small notions about manliness and sportsmanship is unsophisticated and small. Get over it.

Basically, just get used to it, because it’s an intrinsic part of the sport. And it’s not going to change anytime soon. In most countries, it’s not frowned upon — if you don’t scoff at it, you might even be considered more tolerant of different cultures and ideals. Got it.

But, My Issues

  • The number of referees in each game: it looks like there’s only one ref (other than linesmen?) on the field, possibly two. How can they expect this one person to cover the whole match?
  • Athletes are simply very, very bad actors: this point doesn’t need much more explanation. They’re good with their feet, and well, that’s about it. Bad actors who are actors just don’t get jobs.
  • Ronaldo is not known as a sneaky performer but as someone who always falls down. Does that just make him clumsy?
  • And most irksome to me, by diving, you are playing to expect the referee to direct important outcomes of a game through mistakes and not through your own abilities. I have a huge issue with that. I will clearly never fully accept this part of soccer.

One More
Just because it’s so comical to watch, here’s one more exceptional dive from one of the greatest: Rinaldo.

Still the tournament has just begun, and if you can get beyond the non-creative and non-musical drone of the vuvuzelas, the skill of these athletes, the aesthetics of the game, and the rarity of pitting country versus country cannot be matched. I’ll be watching. Very closely.

Ultimately, sports usually fall into the classes of those judged, those raced, and those refereed. You don’t always have the simplicity of a clean race. This is just the inventiveness of sport. What are your thoughts on this?

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  1. 2 Responses to “Why diving in soccer?”

  2. By word show on Jun 15, 2010

    i agree, NB. Diving turns me off of soccer altogether. Nothing could be more childish or immature. FIghting is bad, too, but at least it’s theatre that isn’t staged, and therein lies the difference.

  3. By Noah Bloom on Jun 16, 2010

    I’ll all for theatrics in sports, like Maicon in disbelief after scoring for Brazil against North Korea ( But this is totally different from diving.

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