At the World Cup, the ecstasy of the agony

Russia's Alexander Golovin is assisted during a match against Croatia on Saturday.
Russia's Alexander Golovin is assisted during a match against Croatia on Saturday. AP photo

From an editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

And the Oscar for best acting in a sports drama goes to … the entire cast of characters competing in the World Cup soccer tournament in Russia. These are not only the world’s most accomplished professional soccer players, but also highly trained thespians specialized in the art of simulating the incapacitating, egregious, outrageous, near-death injury inflicted by another player.

Flopping, as it’s known among soccer fans, is the face-contorted, blinded-by-tears, feigned agony suffered by players when tapped or brushed or touched or merely waved at by a player on the opposing team. If you don’t feel pain merely by watching them, then you are either heartless or you are an official of FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, whose officials hold the hellish task of suffering through these antics while deciding whether to call a foul on an offender.

The Wall Street Journal has been paying attention, and it appears that Brazil’s star, Neymar, is leading the pack in flops at 43 as of the team’s victory over Mexico last week. So legendary is the flop that a kids’ soccer team coach in Switzerland posted a video of his boys perfecting their group flops during practice. On Twitter, photos of Neymar in different stages of faked agony are now numbered according to seriousness so that patients can have a gauge to describe their level of pain.

Such is the transformative effect of World Cup soccer, and drama, on our daily lives.