|Fans let Sidney Crosby know how they feel about diving. (Getty Images)|
On Wednesday, the NBA did something drastic by announcing it will start fining players for flopping. Repeat the offense enough times and you're facing a suspension.
If you want more details on it, visit our friends at Eye on Basketball who have the fines listed for every step from warning to suspension. Being the very, very casual NBA follower that I am, I can only assume this crackdown is targeted directly at one Manu Ginobili.
Right now you're probably saying something like "Gee, that's great for the NBA, but this is a hockey blog ... who cares?" Well of course there's a tie-in to hockey.
You'll recall earlier this year the NHL was talking about taking its own action to curb the flopping/diving issue in hockey. The names Ryan Kesler and Evgeni Malkin were supposedly being floated. Although the goal was the same, to try and exterminate an unwanted action in the game, the means to get to that end are much different. The NHL and players were discussing making a list of known divers and distributing it in locker rooms across the league, as well as to the referees.
This all raises the question: Which approach is better? You can go the route of public shaming, which the NHL has pondered, or you can go where the players feel beyond their egos ... in their wallets.
Well, I'm not sure it matters. The NHL won't be instituting a Diving for Dollars policy anytime soon. Considering how hard a time they're having getting the NHLPA to budge on hotel room payments, imagine the challenge of getting the PA to agree to fines being handed out for a discretionary penalty. You think people are frustrated with Brendan Shanahan now, just imagine that.
At the same time, is publicly shaming players the best way to go about it? It does raise awareness for the referees but you run a lot of risks, one of which being players getting labeled with reputations and not getting calls when they are deserved. It's a double-edged sword, but would the more important issue be to make sure that the penalties like tripping or hooking are actually being called rather than going on a witch hunt for divers? I'd say yes.
I think ideally it would be best to be able to go down the same route as the NBA, but that's in Utopia. The fact is it's as likely to happen as the NHL season actually starting on time. That's to say it's not happening, at least not soon.
I'm not sure diving is as big a problem as it was becoming in basketball. It always cracks me up when guys the size of Shaquille O'Neal fall to the ground when a guy like Mugsy Bogues drives to the hole and runs into them. It doesn't happen that often in the NHL -- comparatively speaking.
That's not to say it's not something that shouldn't be addressed.
It's a worthwhile goal to try and eradicate diving from the game. I think it would make a lot of people happy and it would certainly do visceral wonders for hockey. Nothing looks worse than embellishment paying off. The question is if there is a good way to do it sans politely asking the players to stop.