In soccer there’s a practice called diving. The idea is to fall to the ground and look as hurt as possible in the hopes that the referee will see you (but not whatever contact you made with anyone else), assume the worst, and card the other player. Or issue a penalty. Diving is a horrible practice that will often earn punishment, if caught. But for as much as it really hurts the game, I often find proper dives hilarious to watch.

Arguably the top team anywhere is Barcelona. The amount of money they rake in, and spend on players, outstrips every other team in Europe by a good margin (only their big rivals, Real Madrid, are close). And here’s a handy graph to show it. But for all their expensive players, they have a tendency to dive like mad. This one happened last night. Watch the left hand side of the screen. You can see a great player, Cesc Fabergas, walk up to another player, bump into him, and fall to the ground as if he was invisibly shoved downward. That’s a hell of a dive. And you can find collections of them on Youtube. 

Here’s another, more subtle example from Arsenal this weekend. This one, happening at full speed, may not have looked like anything unusual to a ref. I’m not sure if it worked or not in this case.

There’s an unfortunate side effect to it in that refs will not call well-deserved penalties against players who have earned a rep for diving. Luis Suarez is one of those. Although his dives are becoming far less frequent (he seems to be trying to shape up as a player after his 8 match ban for racism last year), refs still won’t call proper fouls for him. Here’s a particularly ugly one against him yesterday that would have earned a penalty even (not just a penalty either, that’s classic red-card material). Suarez went on to earn a hat trick the hard way though. 

Anyway. It’s unfortunate at best that this kind of practice exists at all. Sort of a soccer equivalent of the old NFL/Snickers commercial. “It hurts when they boo.” Except fans who notice the dives boo just as loudly. I guess it doesn’t matter if a good display of acting gets one of your opposing players sent off.