After watching quite a few games this weekend, I was reminded of how annoyed I am with players that dive and simulate fouls. In many of the blogs Goalden’s author’s have posted, we continuously talk about the importance of staying on your feet. For whatever reason, though, players have become experts in diving. Players are falling all to easily in order to win their team a foul. The dramatic falls and cries have become old…in fact I don’t think they were ever in. This is a game built on respect, skill, intelligence and fair play; not whining, diving and faking.
I have been apart of many conversations where people discredit the validity of the game of soccer because of the amount of diving they see. Now, many counter arguments can be made, but these people are right. Turn on a game of soccer in a country at any time and you’ll see this on display.
In order for this to change, we need the leaders of the game to take action. What I mean by this is we need the best players in the game to take the lead and demand a level of play from themselves that will send a message to everyone else playing the game. Therefore, the only way to restore the validity of the game is to have the best set the bar for everyone else to meet.
The game of soccer is lucky enough to have one of the best players in the world actually be a player who is an advocate of staying on his feet. Lionel Messi:
When you have a player of his caliber creating a reputation like this, players all over the world begin to realize that if you want to be the best, you have to play up to par or better than the best. You can’t be falling all over the field hoping for fouls. You have to blow by opponents and zip through defenders in order to be legitimate.
Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls was one of the most fierce and competitive players of all time. His coach at the time, Phil Jackson, said that Jordan made his job really easy because if anyone was slacking during a practice or game, Jordan would run over and give them an earful. In fact, he got so intense at times that the coaching staff had to send him home from practices. Although this initially sounds extreme, it’s actually exactly what every team needs. Every team needs a leader who demands nothing but the best from everyone, and in return performs at his/her best. Every league needs a player like Jordan in order to set the bar. You think Jordan would have obtained the level of success that he did if he flopped all over the floor looking for fouls?
The game of soccer needs the powers-that-be to create a standard. Why not launch a world-wide program – a media outreach of some sort – that promotes staying on your feet? Why not have someone like Lionel Messi be the face of the outreach?
We don’t have to necessarily focus on fixing the current generations style of game, but lets set the stage for the next generation. Let’s begin to target the youth all of the world – the stars of the future – and have them play to a standard that involves reinstating a game of heart, passion, skill and intelligence.