Back in high school, we had a couple of Jamaican guys on our soccer team. They were the best players in the league, but also the most willing to take dives and then complain to the refs. I loathed it. “If I had half your talent,” I’d mutter from the bench, “I’d quit falling down and just try to beat my guy.”
Years later I remember angrily switching off the 2006 World Cup because every play seemed to end with a grown man falling down without being touched, then writhing around like a child. It wasn’t soccer, it was acting. In basketball, there’s an even more fitting word for it: flopping.
The reason it bothered me more than legitimately dirty play like holding jerseys or throwing elbows is that diving is quitting. By going to the ground, you’re letting your opponent take the ball with no one covering him — and betting that the refs will bail you out. You’re not only dishonest — you’re giving up.
Years later I discovered the equivalent behavior in whitewater slalom racing: sniting.