A few months ago, Dave Eggers postulated that the main reason Americans hate soccer was because of the element of diving.
The second and greatest, by far, obstacle to the popularity of the World Cup, and of professional soccer in general, is the element of diving. Americans may generally be arrogant, but there is one stance I stand behind, and that is the intense loathing of penalty-fakers. There are few examples of American sports where diving is part of the game, much less accepted as such.
But diving in soccer is a problem. It is essentially a combination of acting, lying, begging and cheating, an unappealing mix. The theatricality of diving is distasteful, as is the slow-motion way the chicanery unfolds… American sports are, for better or worse, built upon transparency, or the appearance of transparency, and on the grind-it-out work ethic.
Nowhere was this more evident than a play in a relatively uneventful 2-0 victory by Italy over Ghana. An Italian player was fouled from behind by a Ghana player and by the look of it, someone had shot him in the achilles. He laid on the field moaning like someone killed his dog and then stopped briefly to open his eyes to see if he got the foul, then immediately closed them again and resumed moaning. After a few moments, the Docs came on the field and carried him off on a stretcher. About a minute goes by and he’s jogging back on the field and proceeds to play at full speed. It was the worst faking since Ricky Williams told us he loved the game of football / since Stu Scott pretended he was street / since Jeff Garcia dated the playboy model… hell, just insert your own joke here.