The Physics of Flopping

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


A new academic study on an unsportsmanlike maneuver might want to seek input from a sports innovator

While the issue of “flopping” in basketball has been around for decades, the NBA’s newly instituted policy for the just-concluded 2012–2013 season has created more debate. The NBA now allows post-game review of potential flopping incidents and authorizes fines from $5,000 for a first offense to $30,000 for a fourth offense, with speedier escalation during the playoffs.

Twenty-four fines were levied during the regular season and eight in the playoffs. Even before the full results of the NBA’s enforcement efforts were in, they were apparently not sufficient for one rather vocal scrutinizer of NBA officiating. Once again, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has decided to put his money where his legendary mouth is—this time by awarding a grant of more than $100,000 to SMU for an 18-month study on flopping. The press release on June 7 announcing the grant stated, “Flopping is a player’s deliberate act of falling or recoiling unnecessarily from a nearby opponent to deceive game officials.” The SMU study, led by biomechanics expert Peter G. Weyand, will look at, among other things, “how much force is required to cause a legitimate loss of balance” and whether it is possible “to enhance video reviews by adding a scientific element.”

Read the full article on SportsTravel

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