GIFs, Smack / Apr 11, 2014 / 4:00 pm

Video: A Little Kid Flops, But We Should Still Shut Up About Flopping

Little Kid Flop

Recently, the good people at Complex brought a video to our attention featuring a tiny rec league player obviously flopping his way to a foul on an inbounds play from the sidelines. The headline reads: “Video of a Little Kid Flopping During a Game Proves That The Future of Basketball Is Probably Doomed.” While headlines — even ours — have a tendency towards hyperbole, the self-righteous anger in the YouTube comments of the video, the we are all doomed tone of the post and the Internet’s general reaction to the various flopping infractions, which occur all the time in the NBA, has got to stop. Flopping isn’t new, either for kids or professionals. As long as there has been athletics, there has been flopping; it’s just that not everyone had camera phones to record such blatant trickery and YouTube didn’t even exist 10 years ago.

Here’s the little kid doing his best Vlade Divac impression, and getting the call before obnoxiously clapping. But, and this is important, he’s a freakin’ little kid.

Now look at these top YouTube comments before I (not the editorial “we”) get into my gripe:

YouTube Comments

YouTube comments have always been the Internet’s wasteland where people aren’t worried about showcasing their ignorance, racism, homophobia, misogyny and any other prejudices human beings have always exhibited under the protection of anonymity (it used to be death threats in the mail; now we have YouTube comments). It seems YouTube also allows parents to castigate other parents for their children’s behavior, like a particularly onerous PTA meeting.

Is it disturbing to see the kid flop? I suppose. But it’s not the end of the world or a trend in youth basketball — and we realize the author of the post was just thrumming up urgency in the headline for as many viewers as possible, something we do as well. But the post highlights the general fan feeling on flopping. As long as the kid’s parents show him that what he did isn’t good sportsmanship and flies in the face athletic honesty, the kid’s flop isn’t a big deal.

But we, as a basketball-watching populace, need to stop pretending flopping is some new pandemic that’s slowly infiltrated the minds of our children. When I was a kid, my peers would flop. I used to flop playing soccer and basketball in high school (more than a decade ago) because I wanted to win, and I didn’t particularly care if I had to skirt the rules a bit to meet that objective. Obviously, I learned that’s wrong, but I was a teenager and before that a kid — just like the kid in the video above.

This grousing about the kid, or his parents, in the YouTube comments is the exact same behavior that’s infused the angry reaction to flopping in the NBA.

NBA players have always flopped. The exalted 1980s and 90s stars we venerate as some paradigm of fair play these days, flopped too. The 1960s and 70s stars flopped. Everybody flops just like everybody poops.

Do you know how many times Michael Jordan, or Larry Bird or Magic Johnson flopped? More than you’d think. Maybe they weren’t as obvious about it as some in today’s game, but it still happened, and — just like today — there were guys that were better at selling a flop than others. You could even make the case, if you had the time, there was more flopping 10 years ago when compared to the contemporary game because before there wasn’t any flop warning and guys weren’t getting fined after a second infraction. There was no League Pass or YouTube, or even the Internet — at least the iteration we have today — in the 1980s and early 1990s. So unless you were at the game or watching in a local market, you didn’t know a flop was occurring. But like a tree falling in an unoccupied forest, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening (spare me the Plato Cave allegory).

In my personal opinion, after watching basketball over the last 25 years, there hasn’t been any noticeable augmentation in “flopping,” or “selling a foul,” which is what I called it when I was a kid (the theory being that I was just nudging the ref in the right direction). That’s my own observation, but I’m sure people will want to disagree and argue that flopping is the single biggest problem in the NBA today.

I dislike flopping just as much as the next fan, or writer, or journalist, and I watch a lot of basketball so I see more of it than a casual fan might. But no matter how obvious a flop might look from my couch, I can’t understand the bewildered anger and vitriol fans extend online (or at the bar) after a flop occurs. The same characteristic most NBA fans revere in Michael Jordan (at least in terms of his on-court demeanor): a pathological desire to win and destroy his opponents, is the exact same reason that young kid flopped. And, to repeat: he’s a freakin’ kid. Both MJ, and that kid, were trying to win and doing anything in their power to make it so. It still doesn’t make the kid’s flop morally right, but it helps explain where his motive comes from, and it helps explain why flopping has been happening since James Naismith first introduced the original rules of basketball.

Flopping isn’t new, but the breadth of our exposure to it is the real culprit in this argument, and it’s tricking us into believing there is a lot more flopping going on and it’s ruining the game. Remember the context the next time someone sends you a GIF of some NBA player you now loathe because you saw them flop. This is what guys do sometimes. Pretending otherwise is just being ignorant.

Let’s all get over ourselves and refrain from the apocalyptic diction every time someone tries to sell a foul. There are a lot of other things fans can get up on their soapbox about.

The future of basketball isn’t doomed, it’s just played by people who want to win and don’t mind bending the rules to do so. That’s how it’s always been, and likely how it’ll always be. We just weren’t exposed to it as much as we are now.

(via Complex)

What do you think?

Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • authorsucks

    The author is a dumb ass. That is all.

  • Dylan rollo

    I love what this kid did. When the kid on offense put both hands on him he knew exactly what to do to get that player in trouble. No kid that age would have the basketball smarts to not fight back and end it by getting the ball back. If anything, I would be furious if my son put 2 hands on someone cause he couldn’t get open

  • 2cents

    Well thought out Spencer. But I have to disagree. Flopping has killed any joy that was left in football (soccer for you living in the US). It got so bad that if the flopping was intentional the player is given a red card (gets removed from the game).

    The same needs to happen in the NBA. I agree selling a FOUL is fine. If there is contact made, then fair enough. But this is blatant cheating the game. Show me where in the rule book that is says flopping is allowed and I might share your side of the argument.

    Dylan rollo made a point about no “kid” knowing what to do in that situation. It shows either this kid has a very high basketball IQ, or he was taught flopping by a parent/sibling. If it’s the later, then I pity what the kid.

  • spencer
  • spencer

    I really hope the kid’s parent or older brother didn’t show him how to flop, but it’s pretty intuitive for all athletes of every age.

    I agree that it’s made futból really hard to handle sometimes when everyone’s taking a dive in the box, but for basketball — at least at the professional level — they’ve instituted the flop warning and fine system. Maybe you think a flop should be penalized more severely, but I think it would be a problem if we allowed NBA refs to toss a guy for a flop — like the red card in soccer. Danny Crawford would red card Tim Duncan every game. Plus, there are some flops viewers might believe was a contrived fall or reaction to contact, but might actually be a legitimate foul. It’s sometimes too ambiguous a discrepancy to allow in-the-moment red cards, even though it’s worked well to keep professional futbolers in check.

    There are lots of things that aren’t spelled out in the rulebook, but which guys still do to get an edge. That’s why I made a reference to MJ. He used to pull jerseys to get separation; Reggie Miller used to push off before he curled around a screen; David West lowers his shoulder like a battering ram to get position in the lane for that pretty step-back. the list could go on. None of those aspects of the game are technically legal or on the farthest fringe of legal, but they happen anyway because guys are going to do whatever they think they can get away with to get an edge. There are so many things we miss, or the cameras miss and the refs miss, but they’ll always go on because guys will do whatever it takes to win — including bending the rules.

    The reason I wrote this piece was simply to add that flopping has been around forever, but everyone gets on their high horse claiming it’s destroying the game. It’s always been a part of the game — people just didn’t have YouTube or League Pass back in the day.

    While I agree flop can besmirch the game a bit when a guy acts like a bomb was dropped while two guys are battling in the post, I also know it’s a technique that’s been around forever and not just in basketball. Some guys are going to use that get an advantage, the refs and the league just need to stick to the current system, and we’ll see if the players adjust.

    Or maybe I’m just a dumb [space] ass :)

    Thanks for your 2cents again man — always a pleasure to delve deeper into some of these issues.

  • 2cents

    Feeling is mutual Spencer. It’s good to see you can back up your article with some well thought out prose.

    You have enlightened me somewhat in regards to the aspect of the game. My bias I guess is that I grew up in the 90s basketbrawl era, where guys like The Oak would put a hurt on someone driving the lane, as opposed to flopping into the second row to draw a charge.

    The game is blemished by the aspect of flopping. The NBA NEEDS to include camera replays into their officiating and start getting it right during games.

    Keep posting and presenting some different points of views.

  • pposse

    awesome so Michael Jordan’s will to win is now the same thing as a kid flopping. Okay got it. As much basketball as you claim to watch, you should maybe realize that Jordan wasn’t in the gym working on his flop techniques, he was working on harnessing real basketball skills.