Football players risk their long-term health on every play. Baseball players are notorious for steroid use. Freakishly athletic basketball players will attack the rim knowing every time they could get fouled and go tumbling to the hardwood floor. Soccer players will use their head to redirect, in mid-air, a large and relatively firm ball traveling at great speeds.
The point is, athletes will do anything and everything to gain a competitive advantage.
In stark contrast to the four examples above, all of which show the risks athletes will accept for the potential reward of victory, there are flops.
Whether you love it or hate it (surely the latter), flopping will never go away because it is one more way athletes can gain a competitive advantage. And when you’re a professional athlete, your job is to win. Even if that means deceiving the referees, and perhaps even the spirit of the rules and fair competition, you do it…”professionally.”
I was reminded of this a few minutes ago when I came across this GIF on Reddit:
And then in the comment section, I found this gem:
(Side note: Click this link and just start scrolling down. It’s the web’s random, ridiculous sense of humor at its best.)
Frankly, this is why many Americans hate soccer…or at least why they criticize it. But that’s a pretty myopic viewpoint to take. Sure, some soccer flopping – especially the video above – is egregious, oftentimes hilariously so, but flopping is hardly exclusive to soccer.
Consider this moment from the NFL earlier this year – the sport that is supposed to be America’s new national pastime that pits gladiator against gladiator on the gridiron.
Umm…I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see any Giants’ opponents anywhere near Deon Grant or the other fella who went tumbling to the turf without provocation. Hey, at least the soccer guy above was clever about it. Deon Grant’s flop – an obvious attempt to slow down the offense – was frankly just silly, especially knowing that there are multitudes of cameras rolling to catch everything happens.
Grant’s flop actually caused an outrage when it happened because we aren’t so used to seeing football players flop so blatantly and unabashedly. We are, however, used to it in the NBA, where guys like Manu Ginobili and Reggie Miller turned it into an art form.
Depending on your perspective, Chris Bosh either took the art of basketball flopping to another level of genius and theater…or committed one of the most reprehensible acts in the reprehensible history of flopping.
He sure did sell it. But since Chris Bosh is kind of a tool (though a nice, well-meaning one) he doesn’t get a pass just because he induced the charge call. Reprehensible it is.
But it’s not just tools who flop.
In the history of sports, there is perhaps no man for whom the pejorative use of the word “tool” is a less appropriate descriptor than Derek Jeter. He is confident, smooth, consistent, regal, urbane, and he provides gift baskets with autographed baseballs to his coital conquests. It is absolutely impossible to at once be a tool and someone who provides gift baskets to the women you bed. Impossible. So say what you will about Derek Jeter, but you can never, ever, ever call him a tool.
You can, however, call him a flopper. Watch this video for proof.
If Jeter didn’t flop there (he did), then that sound which was ostensibly ball hitting bat was ball hitting bone, and that’s just nasty. But it’s clear from the vid that Jeter did flop, sold it Chris Bosh-style, and was then awarded first base. There is no word on if Jeter left a gift basket for the umpire.
So there you have it. Four of the most notoriously awful flops in the history of professional sport–what’s that you say? Why did I leave out hockey? Well, that’s pretty easy.
Because, as pointed out in the original Reddit thread that inspired this post, hockey is a sport played by men like Steve Stamkos – all of 21 years old – who take pucks to the face, bleed, lose chunks of their nose…and then return to action several minutes later.
No flopping there. In fact, if you just watched the reactions, you might think that Bosh and Jeter had been injured worse than Stamkos, who skates off rather calmly.
I’m sure flopping goes on in hockey at some level, though I don’t watch enough of it to know; but when men like Steve Stamkos are playing it, I can’t imagine it happens very often.
Now the question for you, dear reader, is which of the four flops above – each representative of the worst kind of flopping in its respective sport – do you consider to be the most egregious?
And once you’ve answered the poll question, hop down to the comment section and remind us of other classic sports flops. There are tons of them. Let’s compile the best of the best (or worst of the worst, as the case may be) here.