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Kentucky’s Lexington Herald-Leader 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.
Herald-Leader Journalist Jerry Tipton quoted Weyand in his June 15 UK basketball column on the flopping research, “Cuban asks scientist to study physics of flopping.
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 Jerry Tipton
The defender might be a foot taller and 75 pounds heavier. Yet, contact with the smaller player sends him flying backward. When the referee calls charging, even a casual basketball fan senses injustice.
The illogic of these kiddie car-demolishes-pickup truck collisions moved Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to take action. He commissioned a scientific study of basketball’s all-too-common lapse into kabuki theatre: the offensive foul. Cuban, an unabashed critic of NBA officiating, had his company, Radical Hoops Ltd, donate $100,000 to Southern Methodist University to study the physics involved in these collisions, it was announced last week.
Peter Weyand, an associate professor of applied physiology and biomechanics at SMU, will lead what’s being billed as an 18-month investigation into mass, force and acceleration in baggy shorts. Sir Isaac Newton meets C.M. Newton.
Weyand and his team will try to determine how much force is required to “legitimately” knock a defender off his feet. They also hope to develop a metric to determine if such a force existed in any particular block/charge incident. In theory, a video review using this metric would lead to punishment for flopping.
Meanwhile, referees roll their eyes.
“Basketball officiating is an art,” said John Hampton, Kentucky native and Southeastern Conference official. “It is not a science. I am extremely skeptical of the whole project.”
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By Margaret Allen
Senior research writer, SMU Public AffairsView Archive →