Biomechanics experts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas are teaming up with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to scientifically study the illicit tactic of “player flopping” in basketball and other sports. The term refers to any physical act that appears to have been made in order to create an illusion of illegal contact and deceive referees into calling undeserved fouls on opponents.
The primary factor to be applied in determining whether a player has committed a flop is whether his physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact, a player’s deliberately taking a fall or disengaging unnecessarily, sometimes dramatically, from an opposing player. Physical acts that constitute legitimate basketball plays (such as moving to a spot in order to draw an offensive foul) and minor physical reactions to contact are not deemed to be flops.
The NBA’s anti-flopping rule, adopted at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, had 24 violations during the 2012-13 regular season. Fourteen players received warnings while five players received a $5,000 fine for violating the anti-flopping rule twice.
Any player who is determined to have committed a flop during the 2013 Playoffs will be subject to the following:
Violation 1: $5,000 fine
Violation 2: $10,000 fine
Violation 3: $15,000 fine
Violation 4: $30,000 fine
If a player violates the anti-flopping rule five times or more, he will be subject to discipline that is reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension.
The Mark Cuban-owned company Radical Hoops Ltd. has awarded a grant of more than $100,000 to fund the 18-month SMU research study, will investigate and analyze the forces involved in basketball collisions, and the possibility of estimating “flopping” forces from video data.
“The issues of collisional forces, balance and control in these types of athletic settings are largely uninvestigated,” comments SMU Associate Professor of Applied Physiology and Biomechanics Dr. Peter G. Weyand – Associate Professor of Applied Physiology and Biomechanics in the SMU Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, who will head up the research team, in a release. “There has been a lot of research into balance and falls in the elderly, but relatively little on active adults and athletes.”
A physiologist and biomechanist, and one of the world’s leading scholars on the scientific basis of human performance, Dr. Weyand is a frequent source for journalists worldwide researching the topic of athletic performance limits, such as how fast humans can run. He was a lead investigator on the scientific team that performed experimental work to appeal the Olympic/IAAF ban of double amputee, South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius. His research integrating the biomechanical and physiological basis of athletic performance has reportedly advanced scientific understanding and stimulated evidence-based approaches to performance and training practices worldwide.
The objective of the research on flopping is to investigate the forces involved in typical basketball collisions, says Weyand, an associate professor of applied physiology and biomechanics.
Other members of the SMU research team include: research engineer and physicist Laurence Ryan; Kenneth Clark, doctoral student in SMU’s Locomotor Performance Laboratory; and mechanical engineer Geoffrey Brown.
The SMU Locomotor Performance Laboratory is in the Department of Applied Physiology & Wellness of The Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, and specializes in terrestrial locomotion and in relating muscle function to metabolic energy expenditure and performance. Current research focuses on the relationships between the mechanics of movement, performance, metabolic energy expenditure, and metabolic power. This research addresses scientific questions at the whole-body or organism level of biological organization, as well as addressing issues at the tissue and cellular levels.
The researchers will look at how much force is required to cause a legitimate loss of balance and will also examine to what extent players can influence the critical level of force via balance and body control. They will also explore techniques by which the forces involved in collisions might be estimated from video or other motion capture techniques, and their findings could potentially contribute to developing a methodology for evaluating video reviews of flopping and subsequent assignment of fines. “It may be possible to enhance video reviews by adding a scientific element, but we won’t know this until we have the data from this study in hand,” Dr. Weyand explains.
A gift from Harold C. Simmons and Annette Caldwell Simmons ’57 established the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development to provide endowment and crucial support for programs that address critical needs and opportunities in education.
The Simmons School endeavors to promote excellence by engaging in and disseminating scientifically-based research, preparing exemplary professionals in education and human development, collaborating with other schools and institutions in the development of model programs and furthering positive learning experiences in all stages of life. Its mission is to integrate theory, research and practice of education and human development; promote academic rigor and interdisciplinary collaboration; educate students for initial certification and professional practice; and nurture collaboration across the academic community.
The school offers Master’s and Ph.D. programs in education with specializations congruent with faculty expertise, human development and liberal studies. In addition to providing teacher education courses for undergraduates of the University, the school will establish degree programs in human development at the undergraduate level when resources permit. The school also offers informal courses and programs for the continuing educational benefit of the wider community.