Diving is currently the hot-topic in English football, with many a big name sticking their oar into the debate. Michael Owen, Tony Pulis, Luis Suarez and co. however have good reason to be involved. Owen admitted to diving himself, Pulis thinks you should receive a ban and Suarez effectively told the Stoke manager to butt out in response.
I have been traipsing around trying to find out some of the earliest versions of simulation in the game and in doing so found some interesting material.
Basically all human beings, men in particular are scientifically pre-disposed to take a fall in a football game.
I had my doubts as well but this argument does seem to have credence. While Michael Owen may blame ‘foreigners’ for the influence they have had on the English game and being direct descendants of himself, Rooney, Gerrard, Young and even Joey Barton who has taken a soft tumble in his career I instead aim to blame science.
Yes the quasher of religions is now going to quash the xenophobic belief that it is all their fault for bringing their flair, technical class and eye-catching wizardry to our shores.
The argument in question is basic, it relates to perception of punishment, success and reward.
For instance, barely any dives occur in the more inconsequential zones of a game. Near the centre circle, corner flag or out wide, simulation is far less likely to occur. Not only this but dives will also occur more often or not when the scores are level.
All this relates to our reward response system. Simply put (and I have removed a heap of jargon that I barely understood [probably didn’t]) if a person believes the chances of reward are higher than the chances of punishment, then they will do things.
It’s what makes partners cheat, speeding drivers speed and shop-lifters steal, it is a basic human cognition; and it also makes players dive.
Because we know the facts are that punishment for diving is rare, but gaining a penalty and winning your team three points from taking a fall is far more common.
So in that respect Tony Pulis is right, stricter punishments are indeed needed to counter-act a diving culture. It has worked elsewhere such as progressive leagues in Australia and USA where hindsight punishments are being handed out. Costa Rica’s Alvaro Saborio found out the hard way when he received a one game ban and was fined for blatant simulation when playing for Real Salt Lake against San Jose Earthquakes last July.
The result, a drop in the amount of simulation cases in the MLS.
So until punishments are levelled at players that make the outcome of simulation less inviting; diving will continue in our league. Blame foreigners, referees or a win-at-all costs mentality all you want but disciplinary action against blatant dives is the only recourse.
As Ron Burgundy once said ‘’its science’’.