A word to all high school and college basketball players out there who think that falling down is going to be rewarded. From what I’m seeing it’s all you’re going to be remembered for…and I’d think you’d want more.
For the uninitiated, there’s a new rule in NCAA basketball this year regarding ‘flopping’, or players faking contact with an opposing player for the sake of drawing a foul call on that player.
This has gone on, famously, in the NBA for years. People laugh about it, point it out, write about it, and condemn it…but players continue to do it because once in a great while it actually works. Sometime the officials do call a foul.
In some ways it reminds me of the Trump impeachment hearings – a lot of show, a lot of noise, with questions about facts and relevance. Sure, there is some fact, because basketball is not a purely non-contact sport. So it comes down to a matter of motive, just like those who argue about why Trump called Zelensky.
And like everything else in sports, what Lebron does, everyone does, eventually. Flopping is beginning to show up in high school games. Last week I saw a game officiated by three of the area’s best – Frank Vitt, Todd Trainer, and Eric Brown – and one of the participants in that game took some contact in the lane and ‘flopped’, cartwheeling backwards and landing on his backside. Vitt, the official closest to the play, is a veteran. And he knows kids because he’s been involved with education for 30 years. He calmly looked at the player on his back, shook his head, and moved on to the other end of the court – no call.
And a good call. The player got to his feet in feigned disbelief (because he knew he was flopping) and got to the other end too late to prevent an opposing layup – transitional defense. His theatrics had cost his team two points.
The call for flopping in college is a warning for the first offense, and any call after that will result in a technical foul. There is some debate over that among coaches because usually there is at least SOME contact involved, and most coaches will tell you that the best call is to ignore the fact of flopping. Call contact if you want, but there’s no need to reward anyone with a flop call and a technical foul shot (one, for a class ‘B’ technical).
Whatever. What aggravates the most is to see a player flop then lobby the official all the way down the court, complaining that his theatrics were ignored. I saw this at a recent Dayton game, where the official blew his whistle, stopped play, and assessed a class ‘A’ technical, a two-shot foul. He’d heard enough, too.
In Tuesday night’s OSU-Southeast Missouri game there was a warning assessed against Missouri point guard Oscar Kao, who deserved an ‘oscar’ for his act following a brush with OSU’s D.J. Carton. Kao threw his head back, staggered to one side, and when there was no call he continued on his path to the lane…only to get stripped of the ball. He immediately challenged the closest official, who just laughed…and issued the warning to the Missouri bench. Sidenote on Kao…it was his best ‘scene’ in the entire game. And no curtain calls, or encores.
But I don’t want to see this in a high school game. I don’t want to see high school players whining about fake contact not being called. I don’t want to see them cost their team defensively on the other end by staying back and making a case for something that never happened. It’s SELFISH, it’s SENSELESS, and frankly…in a day where we’re more concerned about good sportsmanship than we are about good competition, it’s poor SPORTSMANSHIP, too.
If I were a coach I’d bench that player for the rest of the game…and maybe the next one, too. But coaches won’t do that because they’d incur the wrath of the community or the school board for being too heavy-handed.
So perhaps the National Federation should take that next step, the same group of Phi Beta Kappas who say that if you throw inside, or slide hard to break up a double play in baseball, you should be ejected and suspended. Make the National Federation put it in writing…that if you flop you ‘stop’ playing for a game.
You think I’m over-reacting? Just a matter of opinion in this case. If I want to see an actor – a real actor – I’ll rent a movie. I won’t pay $10 to see it in a theater, mind you, the same as I won’t pay $7 to see someone flop in a high school game. Kids and college players need to understand the economics in this case…like they need to understand that there’s only one Tom Hanks.
And it ain’t you!