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Yahoo! Sports journalist Kelly Dwyer covered the research of SMU biomechanics expert Peter G. Weyand, who is teaming with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to investigate the forces involved in basketball collisions and the possibility of estimating “flopping” forces from video data.
The coverage, “Mark Cuban’s $100K sponsors a university’s study on the mechanics and fallout of NBA flopping,” was posted June 7.
Flopping is a player’s deliberate act of falling, or recoiling unnecessarily from a nearby opponent, to deceive game officials. Athletes engage in dramatic flopping to create the illusion of illegal contact, hoping to bait officials into calling undeserved fouls on opponents.
The phenomenon is considered a widespread problem in professional basketball and soccer. To discourage the practice, the National Basketball Association in 2012 began a system of escalating fines against NBA players suspected of flopping, including during the playoffs, “NBA announces anti-flopping rules for playoffs.”
The Cuban-owned company Radical Hoops Ltd. awarded a grant of more than $100,000 to fund the 18-month research study at SMU.
By Kelly Dwyer
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban apparently agrees with about one hundred percent of basketball’s fandom when it comes to the practice of flopping to draw a foul call. In the years since he became Maverick owner in Jan. of 2000, Cuban has lightened his aggressive touch when it came to harassing refs from the sideline, or (if you’ll recall, from autumn of 2000) posting screenshots of a missed call on his team’s scoreboard following a loss for everyone to see.
Cuban is shooting for a more well-heeled, and subsequently more well-researched route these days. He’s sponsoring a team of biomechanics experts at Southern Methodist University, as they research the forces behind and end-result bottom lines from all of this flippity-flopping. [...]
[...] Good work, Mr. Cuban, professors, Peter, the elderly, Vlade.
I can safely say that I’m just about all out of patience with the art around flopping. Not the art of flopping, that grew tiresome in the late 1990s even before the NBA put the semi-circle around the basket to make block/charge calls easier. Rather, the unending, eye-rolling amount of chatter from mainstream bloggers, on-air analysts, and chanting fans.
Guys, we get it. NBA players flop. This is the end result of attempting to call a contest featuring the world’s greatest athletes properly.
The NBA’s referees, in a reaction to the clutch-and-grab style that made so many mid-1990s NBA games so rough to watch, started to more aggressively call contact. That decision made the games infinitely more watchable, but as a result players learned that the occasional quick movement following implied contact, or overstated reaction to real contact (or, as SMU puts it, the “deliberate act of falling, or recoiling unnecessarily from a nearby opponent, to deceive game officials”), could lead to a quick whistle from a ref that doesn’t know that he or she had been duped.
That’s the price you pay for accurately called games. Refereeing in the NBA is impossibly tough, and refs are forced into making split-second decisions with their whistles that they’ll sometimes regret. And even if it’s obvious in real time that this particular move was a flop and not a foul-worthy bit of contact, it hardly matters – referees are human, and humans make mistakes. Especially when they’re asked by their bosses to make calls instantly and with no hesitation, with an emphasis on discouraging physical play.
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