There’s no crying in basketball

By By Tom Quinn, By Tom Quinn, and By Tom Quinn

By Tom Quinn

As per custom, the numbskulls controlling the music at Saturday’s basketball game against New Mexico insisted on playing “Welcome to the Jungle” to start the second half. A more appropriate number, however, would have been Big Joe Turner’s “Flip, Flop and Fly.”

In addition to being a catchy tune, Turner’s signature song would have made a perfect soundtrack for a game that saw more dives than a country club swim meet.

Indeed, the Lobos must have come out of the locker room determined to fall on the ground as many times as humanly possible. Every time one of the Utes gave so much as a disapproving look, the victimized New Mexican went flying to the floor, his body limp and his face twisted in what appeared to be pure agony.

As ridiculous as the flippers, floppers and fliers looked, their ploy worked about as often as it didn’t. The referees, who after all are only human, sent the Lobos to the line for about 50 percent of the phantom fouls, much to the dismay of the three or four fans who showed up to watch the game.

In my professional opinion, with the possible exceptions of taking steroids and/or playing for the Carolina Panthers, taking a dive is the most despicable thing an athlete can do.

When a player flops in a game situation, he or she is essentially telling the world that the referee ought to decide the outcome of the contest. Diving isn’t quite as bad as using Stick ‘Em or incapacitating an opponent a la Tonya Harding, but it is cheating nonetheless.

The aspect of flopping that makes it more irksome than other forms of cheating is its undeniable ubiquity. Like Mormons at a bimonthly wedding expo, diving is everywhere.

The world’s best (or worst) divers are soccer players. Anyone who watched more than a few minutes of last summer’s World Cup would definitely agree that the players spent more time on the ground than most English spectators spent in bars.

Thanks to the soccer community’s unshakable commitment to faking fouls, “dive” has joined “choke” and “f*** you” as the only terms that have their very own universal symbols.

While most dives on the soccer field are harmless, some can seriously affect a team’s fortunes. Most Real Salt Lake fans, for example, still haven’t forgotten the time when Eddie Pope received a red card for a phantom foul on Eddie Johnson. Although Johnson later admitted the tackle was clean, Pope still had to sit out the rest of that game and all of the next.

Recently, diving even worked its way into the most contact-oriented of all sports: football. While kickers and punters have been faking injuries for years, the sport hit a new low last October when the Panthers’ Keyshawn Johnson drew a 15-yard penalty by throwing himself out of bounds and crying like a little girl.

Has the entire world gone mad? Back in the day, sportsmen (and women) were supposed to push through the pain, to get going when the going got tough. These days, athletes are more concerned with faking pain so they don’t have to get going at all.