KERA journalist Lauren Silverman 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, “Fed Up With ‘Flopping,’ Mark Cuban Funds SMU Study,” 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.

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By Lauren Silverman

Phony falls in basketball just got serious. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has teamed up with biomechanics experts at Southern Methodist University to study “flopping” — when a player deliberately falls to deceive referees into thinking there’s been a foul.

Flopping is considered a widespread problem in basketball. In 2012, the NBA began a system of escalating fines against NBA players suspected of flopping. In fact, the league implemented a special anti-flopping fine system for the current playoffs. (Watch out, Tim Duncan!) Now, NBA commissioner David Stern is considering increasing the penalties.

Right now, the first violation results in a $5,000 fine (check out the full breakdown at NBA.com). If a player violates the anti-flopping rule five times or more, “he will be subject to discipline that is reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension.”

The problem is, it can be hard to tell whether a player is faking a fall or really got knocked off balance. That’s why Cuban has spent more than $100,000 to fund a research study at SMU in Dallas. Biomechanics expert Peter Weyand, who leads the research team, says, “There has been a lot of research into balance and falls in the elderly, but relatively little on active adults and athletes.”

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