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John Riggins: Not a soccer fan

I mostly tune out the complains about soccer diving and soccer players' general wussiness, because they're all the same, like complaints about high taxes or traffic or Albert Haynesworth.

But when John Riggins is doing the complaining, I'll grant him a listen. Here's what he just wrote on his blog, after watching all of USA-Ghana, his first career 90-minute soccer experience:

The aspect of the game that I could not brook was the disingenuous nature of the players in regard to their injuries and perceived trespasses by their opponents. Crybabies, they are the scourge of sport, and my sport certainly had their share, but in soccer it almost seems as though it's a prerequisite....

Our football and hockey players are like dumb animals when they are injured; they are matter of fact with little or no fanfare (although from what I recall, Big Al is an exception to that statement).....I know soccer has its share of legitimate injuries; I'm just having trouble with buying into all the ambulance chasers down on the pitch. What would those guys do if you told them to lay out for a ball over the middle. I guess I hunted armed men long enough and liked it!

No Americans particularly like diving; many of us just put up with its occasional unsightly appearances in the pursuit of the thrilling parts, just like we put up with football's endless whistles, basketball's unlimited timeouts and Bud Selig. But if you wanted to put soccer on blast for wussiness, calling crybabies "the scourge of sport" is a pretty good start.

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 29, 2010; 4:57 PM ET
Categories:  Media , Soccer  
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Comments

Same reason why I don't watch much NBA. Crying for fouls and taking dives - where's the sportsmanship?

Posted by: WallyG3 | June 29, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

It seems that it would be so simple to add a second referee, as the NHL did a few years ago. Having two sets of eyes in the action on the pitch would seem to dramatically raise the chances of differentiating legitimate fouls from dives, and thereby inhibit the despicable practice of diving to some extent. Just a thought from someone who doesn't watch a whole lot of soccer.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | June 29, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Like normal, Riggo is on point once again. I don't generally care for soccer, but was interested in seeing the USA do well in the World Cup because... well, I like seeing the USA do well in anything on the world stage - but the diving and crying/whining is almost unbearable. When they need to bring out a stretcher to carry a guy off the field, only to have him back running around within 2 minutes seems like the whole "foul" system is a joke.

It's also like the Family Guy episode where Peter hurts his shin and goes "aaaahhh" like 60 times. Hilarious, but has no place in sport.

Go Riggo

Posted by: Scofield | June 29, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

I think Scofield, Riggo, and a lot of people who don't watch much soccer have incorrectly lumped several things together. As a huge soccer fan, I think these things need clarifying.

Diving, feigning injury, and recovering from a real but minor injury are three very different things. Diving and injury-faking suck. Your soccer-loving friend hates them more than you do.

Where I think the non-soccer fans out there may be missing something is when people come back on after being stretchered off. Players didn't used to get stretchered off every time they stayed down after a play. Once it became clear that this was a time wasting tactic, FIFA said the player that stays down has to go off the field. This means that, if you are faking an injury, your team pays because you're standing on the sideline for awhile. Ideally, the stretcher was supposed to come on fast, but over time things have gotten looser.

Many times, players have been kicked in a painful area (ever bump your shin on the table? It sucks. Now, imagine that the table has been hurled at your shin at high speed). It's hard to effectively play soccer when your foot/ankle/shin/knee/thigh is screaming in pain, since soccer is a sport that requires all those parts to work.

What happens most of the time is a) the player chooses to wince and limp until the pain fades enough to run and kick naturally, or b) he stays down and is obliged to leave the field. You go off, generally trainers spray whatever hurts with a cold spray, the pain fades, and you go back into the game. This second thing appears to be what bothered Riggo, but more often than not these were actual painful injuries, and the guy going off the field was just trying to get past the pain.

In football, to create a contrast, these moments of wincing and being momentarily unable to perform are covered up by timeouts, huddles, and all the other stoppages. If a lineman has his foot stepped on, he's got 30 seconds or so to shake it off. In soccer, the game is still going on while you figure out whether your foot is broken or just really hurts.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | June 29, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

There's a lot less diving when you give the other side no reason to dive. Ghana were protecting a narrow lead with time ticking away. You're not going to see any of Riggo's headhunting gridiron types running the hurry-up offense under those conditions, either.

If the USA had defended better, there wouldn't be any diving controversy--because Team USA would have won.

This is a lesson for all you little kids: If you don't want to have to complain about the other side being poor sports, BEAT THEM FIRST, and let the scoreboard speak for you.

Posted by: ouij | June 29, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

i love both (soccer and john riggins) but i think you can find defiences will all sports so...im happy to see how patriotic he is but honestly if our team(and ghana) was better ,i think you would see significantly less dives and better play

Posted by: diego99999 | June 30, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Chest_Rockwell brings the clarity once again. Kudos for a swift and concise explanation for the less enlightened.

Posted by: DadRyan | June 30, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Who cares about anything John Riggins says?

Posted by: EYoung77 | June 30, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Go back to BLT Bank Stadium, Riggo

Posted by: Kev29 | June 30, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

it should be pointed out that American players, at least those not named Dempsey or Altidore, generally do not engage in the practice of diving/feigning injury.

and the reason American football does not have a problem with diving/feigning injury is because there is typically no advantage to be gained. The only times when you do see it are on Roughing calls (Punters/Kickers/QBs flopping on the gound), or when a team has no timeouts remaining at the end of a half. Under the latter circumstance, the team gets what amounts to a free timeout if a player is "injured". Tennessee pulled that garbage against Tech in the CFA Bowl this past year, and got a touchdown for it.

Posted by: VTUnited | June 30, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

it should be pointed out that American players, at least those not named Dempsey or Altidore, generally do not engage in the practice of diving/feigning injury.

and the reason American football does not have a problem with diving/feigning injury is because there is typically no advantage to be gained. The only times when you do see it are on Roughing calls (Punters/Kickers/QBs flopping on the gound), or when a team has no timeouts remaining at the end of a half. Under the latter circumstance, the team gets what amounts to a free timeout if a player is "injured". Tennessee pulled that garbage against Tech in the CFA Bowl this past year, and got a touchdown for it.

Posted by: VTUnited | June 30, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

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