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PROFESSIONAL DRAMATICS

by SPT 

Posted: 22 April 2007
Word Count: 1291
Summary: Essentialy an analysis of the problem of 'simulation' in other words cheating in football. It looks through the eyes of an increasingly disillusioned fan and compares the behaviour of professional footballers with that of two groups of amateur sportsmen and women


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Professional Dramatics

Thereís been much debate recently about the problems of
Ďsimulationí. This sanitised term, applied by the games authorities
canít hide what it actually is, cheating. Diving, feigning injury,
trying to gain an advantage by getting an opposing player sent off
is, and lets get this clear not Ď just part of the modern gameí it is
out and out deception and itís an element which is turning myself
and a growing number of my contemporaries away from the
game.

While the actions of players throwing themselves to the ground
after less contact than you get from a granny with her shopping in
M&S is nauseating enough, itís what happens in the aftermath of
the Ďfoulí that beggars belief. They writhe and convulse in a
manner that suggests they donít need a trainer but an entire
trauma team. If the Health Secretary wantís to reduce NHS
waiting lists she might consider employing some of the
Premiershipís trainers and physios bearing in mind the way these
gifted healers have our stricken heroes back on their feet within
minutes.

This is not a rant about obscenely paid prima donnas, arguably,
the salaries being paid have to be seen in the context of the
entertainment industry and thatís another argument altogether.
The issue Iím trying to raise here is why does it seem to be only a
growing number of footballers who indulge in this ludicrous
practise. In these days of mass media coverage do they really
think they can get away with it and escape the subsequent
criticism. Or, more to the point do they hold the game and the
fans in such contempt that they donít really care as long as they
achieve their objectives, an unfair advantage and the win bonus.








No one doubts that getting hammered in a tackle by someone the
size of John Terry can hurt but why does it seem to be only
footballers who resort to these amateur dramatics.

This was perfectly illustrated to me last year when I watched the
All Scotland Shinty final between Fort William and Kingussie. I
have to be honest Iíve never really paid the game much attention
before but I watched fascinated, not only at the skill and
athleticism but also at the seemingly superhuman capacity of these
two teams to absorb pain. It didnít seem to matter whether it was
stick, opponent or ball that hit them, not once did they resort to
the absurd behaviour which now seems so prevalent in top class
football. The trainer did at times have to enter the field of play,
mainly for blood injuries and also for when one of the goalkeepers
was stunned by the ball but the injuries and the resulting treatment
were dispatched with a minimum of fuss.

Watching the shinty started me reminiscing about my own modest
athletic career, I used to go hill running and competed in races in
Scotland and Northumberland. Now I can hear people saying that
you cannot compare hill running with football. Hill running is ( in
theory ) not a contact sport. That however is not the argument Iím
attempting to make, like the shinty players the athletes taking part
in these races seem to be immune to pain. Iíve seen runners
participating in the Ben Nevis race go flying ( literally ) on the
boulder field at the top of the mouton, landing in a spray of blood,
sweat and sheep shit. You could feel the impact 100 metres away.
The response was not to roll over half a dozen times screaming
for medical assistance, but to get up, wipe the blood off and get
on with it.








Now these men and women are tough but they are not
superhuman, believe me it does hurt. But if they can continue to
compete why do our so called professionals persist in trying to
convince all and sundry that they have suffered a life threatening
injury

There is no denying serious injuries do occur. Those sustained by
Michael Owen, Jimmy Bullard and the two Chelsea goalkeepers
are testament to that. However, in general when serious injury
does occur far from thrashing around the victim tends to keep as
still as possible, for the very good reason that violent movement
aggravates the injury and increases the pain. When I damaged my
ankle ligaments on a Scottish hillside the last thing I wanted to do
was move, for the very good reason that it bloody hurt. In my
experience the bodyís natural reaction is to try and nullify the
pain. The exaggerated movements demonstrated by some players
only accentuate how ludicrous the whole performance is. Itís then
compounded when minutes later, after treatment from the afore
mentioned physio/ magician our hero sprints the length of the field
and starts throwing himself into tackles. They then have the nerve
to wonder my the fans begin to harangue them when they next
receive the ball.

Itís got to the stage now that when Iím watching a game and a
tackle results in a free kick being awarded and the trainer coming
on, the darker, more cynical side of my nature is half hoping the
injury is genuine. Just so I and everyone else will be spared the
nauseating dramatics and I wonít humiliate myself in front of
friends by screaming Ď get up you wankerí.

The various initiatives implemented by the governing bodies seem
to have had little or no effect. Diving and the subsequent theatrics
still occur with monotonous regularity.







So whatís the answer? It seems to much too hope for that the
clubs themselves will take any action. The pious indignation
displayed by Messrs. Mourinho, Ferguson and Wenger when the
integrity of one of their players is brought into question would
seem to preclude that idea. The comments made recently by Roy
Keane and Stuart Pearce are welcome exceptions to the rule but it
seems to be that most managers follow the same myopic attitude.
The stand made by the chairman of Torquay Utd should have
been roundly applauded but the almost contemptible lack of
support he received from fellow chairmen, managers and players
was depressing. The Football League chairman Lord Malwhinney
has said he will support any club that makes a stand but I am not
holding my breath.

Can the fans do anything? As with most other aspects of the game
the fans are seemingly powerless to influence proceedings. Short
of a boycott which we know wonít happen the fan is left no other
option but to register his protest vocally and then become
increasingly frustrated either at the players continuing indifference
to his remonstrations or alternatively suffer the sanctimonious
drivel spouted by at the press conference where the player
bemoans the unjust treatment heís received.

Maybe Iím just getting to old, because in general the people who
are voicing the same opinions are middle-aged and have been
watching the game for decades. An increasing number of the
younger fans seem, however reluctantly, willing to accept this
kind of behaviour, but to be honest do they have any alternative
but to accept it ?








Maybe I was wrong, perhaps it is now part of the game, but if it is
and it becomes increasingly accepted then sadly I think more and
more older supporters will decide enough is enough. I donít think
anyone is naive enough to expect a return to the days of the
Corinthian spirit, but it would surely be beneficial to the game if
the players stopped insulting the fans intelligence. We know they
are faking. If the guilty parties, and they know who they are
stopped the theatrics it might go some way to bridge the
increasingly widening gap between the people and the Peopleís
game.




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