Friday, June 7, 2013

Mark Cuban is funding a scientific study on flopping

The league’s anti-flopping policy that was put into place this season hasn’t exactly done a whole lot to curb the embarrassing effort of some players to exaggerate or invent contact to try to garner a favorable (if incorrect) foul call from the officials.

David Stern said as much in addressing the media before the start of the NBA Finals, while also mentioning that fines or other penalties might have to be increased for them to truly act as a deterrent to this particular type of conduct exhibited by a percentage of the players.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is taking it a step further, and he’s putting his money where his mouth is.

From ESPN Dallas:
One of Cuban’s companies has provided $100,000 to Southern Methodist University for an 18-month investigation of the forces involved in basketball collisions and try to figure out if video or other motion capture techniques can identify legitimate collisions and instances of flopping.
“The research findings could conceivably contribute to video reviews of flopping and the subsequent assignment of fines,” SMU biomechanics expert Peter G. Weyand, who leads the research team, said in a statement.
Cuban tweeted: “Is it a flop? Let the scientists figure it out . im paying for the research to find out.”
This is where it gets interesting.

While many of the flops we see on a nightly basis during the regular season are obvious, there are others that are not. Specifically, when defensive players hit the deck on a block/charge call, it isn’t always discernable whether or not they were hit with enough force that would actually cause them to be knocked off of their feet. When it’s a smaller player defending a larger one in these situations, it’s even easier for the defender to exaggerate the contact to the point where the referees would buy it simply based on the size of each.

We’ll have to wait and see whether the study bears meaningful results, or if there comes a day when technology can tell us with any certainty whether or not a player is truly hit on a play where the contact is clearly exaggerated.

Short of science helping us out, the best way to put a stop to it for good would be to escalate penalties all the way up to a suspension for the offensive behavior — and that’s not somewhere the league is willing to go just yet.

“We could end it immediately if we decided to suspend players,” Stern said. “But that might be a little Draconian at the moment.”

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