Like many of you, Off The Post has been thoroughly enjoying the Women’s World Cup in Canada, and is looking forward to an intriguing set of quarterfinal match-ups, beginning Friday.
As we’re in the middle of a two-day pause, it makes sense that pubs like USA Today and The New York Daily News are trying to keep the World Cup top-of-mind with thought-provoking pieces like “Why Women Don’t Cheat at Soccer” and “U.S. Women’s Team in Need of Ethnic, Racial Diversity.”
While the latter brings up a good point about soccer in the U.S. remaining a largely white, middle-class sport, the former observes that in the professional game, women don’t try to con the referee as much as men do.
Conning the referee by faking a foul or an injury is largely frowned upon in American sports, as the ethics of working hard, always doing your best and competing in an honest way are championed over ends-justifies-the-means behavior. In Europe, they call diving or feigning injury “simulation.” In the U.S., we call it “cheating.”
And while OTP is proud to say he seldom sees anyone representing the USA men resort to this kind of behavior, it is an undeniable problem in just about every major continental tournament or European league in men’s soccer. But, as USA Today’s Martin Rogers notes, “simulation” (we’ll use the softer European term) is largely absent in the women’s game.
Rogers asked this very question to U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath. Her reply: "Maybe women are less dramatic than men. People always say about women's football that they don't dive as much. I don't really know why it is different in the men's game. We have this authentic feel to the sport, because you don't see that and it is a lot less questionable for the referee when you see a tackle. I am proud the sport gives off that because [simulation] can be an annoyance to fans and teams as well."
Adds USA head coach Jill Ellis: "We just like to stay on our feet. You do see [simulation] at times, but it's not prevalent. It is done in the men's game to manipulate and gain an advantage, and we are more about trying to do that in the flow of the game and less in the simulation."
Did anyone here read Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus?
Neither did OTP. And OTP is not a specialist in psychology either, although he does enjoy old episodes of “Frasier.”
That being said, though the rules remain the same, men and women produce different on-field products not only because men and women are physically different, they are also mentally different.
As someone who watches a lot of soccer, the win-at-any-cost mentality -- particularly in the heat of competition -- is much more prevalent in men than women. That’s not to say that all men are predisposed to cheating in sports, but they certainly do get caught trying to do so more often than women.
You might be wondering why, as we noted earlier, the USA men don’t cheat as often as their South American and European counterparts do: OTP would argue that this is because, as a society, Americans have a deep respect for the law. We are all naturalized to believe that laws are good and help foster an equal playing field from which everyone can prosper.
The world was shocked last summer when Uruguay’s Luis Suarez bit the shoulder of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the men’s World Cup in Brazil.
Can you imagine a female soccer player doing the same thing?