It started in international soccer. Dennis Rodman brought it to the NBA in the 1980’s. Other great players over the years, Bill Laimbeer, Reggie Miller, Karl Malone, made it an important part of their game. But LeBron James has turned it into an art form. It has become so prevalent that the NBA has taken measures to curtail it by issuing warnings and fines.
What is it? Flopping. A flop is pretending that you were fouled so you get rewarded and your opponent gets penalized. It helps to lunge backwards, flail your arms, and pretend to crash hard into the floor. Drawing fouls has become a such a big part of the NBA that players like James Harden and Trae Young have incorporated it into their offensive arsenal.
Recently, flopping has bled over into Major League Baseball. This past Sunday, Oakland A’s shortstop Elvis Andrus flopped on the base paths as he was caught in a rundown facing a sure out. He grazed arms with Twins’ catcher Ben Rortvedt, and sent himself sprawling to the ground as if he were shot by a sniper, causing umpire, John Libka to award him home plate. You can see Andrus lean in and flip out his chicken wing toward Rortvedt creating the minor contact needed to send himself to the ground. The video shows Andrus in the dugout demonstrating the tricks of the flopping trade to his teammates. That is the common denominator with all these floppers. They are the ones who initiate the contact, and then they pretend to be the victim of the contact. It happens all the time in the NBA, create the contact and flop as if you’re the one who was fouled.
Sunday was not the first time this type of behavior has shown itself in MLB. On September 16, 2010, in a game against Tampa Bay, New York Yankee Derek Jeter, pretended that a pitched ball struck him, and was then awarded first base. Replay clearly shows that the ball struck Jeter’s bat not his hand. Jeter defended his behavior, “It's part of the game. My job is to get on base." Former Yankee manager Joe Torre applauded Jeter’s actions when he said, “Hell, yeah, he did the right thing… it's not being immoral... Anything you can get away with is fine.”
This is all fine and good within the context of a sports competition; it can be written off as gamesmanship. But flopping is showing up in our everyday life. America has become a victim culture. If you can create a narrative that paints you as a victim, you will be rewarded. This is happening all over our society. Jussie Smollet and Bubba Wallace are the biggest examples of the victim-culture when they feigned being a victim of a hate-crime. Why would anyone pretend to be a victim? They knew they will be rewarded. Create yourself as a victim of a hate-crime, and your social media profile, your social status will immediately be elevated.
This is the root thinking behind the call for reparations. People who never were slaves are presenting themselves as the victims of slavery and demanding billions of dollars in reparations from people who never owned slaves but are painted as the beneficiaries of slavery. Black people living in America continually present themselves as the victims of society, even though they enjoy the highest standard of living, the most freedom, the most opportunity than black people living in any other country in the world.
We now have the Duke and Duchess of Sussex Harry and Meghan claiming to be victims of their royalty. Two people whose unearned net worth is greater than the average person could earn in five lifetimes went on TV with Oprah Winfrey in March to tell the world how victimized they were by being part of royalty.
To quote Chandler Bing, "Oh no, two women love me. They’re both gorgeous. My wallet’s too small for my fifties and my diamond shoes are too tight!” Only in a victim-minded culture, can a multi-millionaire Duke and Duchess have the audacity to paint themselves as victims, and have millions of average citizens feel sorry for them.
If Harry and Meghan are the Duke and Duchess of flopping, Michelle Obama is the queen. She has a master’s degree in the art of flopping. She has claimed to be a victim of white flight, and after the Derek Chauvin trial, Ms. Obama told Gail King, “many of us[black people] still live in fear as we go to the grocery store or worry about walking our dogs or allowing our children to get a license." One of the most privileged people in the world is pretending to be a victim? She lives in a $10 million mansion in Martha’s Vineyard. She has a net worth of over $100 million, and she and her family have 24/7 secret service protection for life, and she wants to play the victim. There are about 160 million white people who should be more afraid to live in America than the Obama’s. But we are being asked to feel sorry for them, and many people much less privileged as the Obama’s, do.
With every fake victim, there is a false victimizer. Every time LeBron James flops, there is a player on the other team who unfairly gets charged with a foul. We used to tell our players in the NFL, ‘they always get the second guy.’ The first guy, the player who shoves or punches first, rarely is seen by the refs. The second guy, the player who shoves or punches back, gets flagged, penalized and fined. It is like the kid in grade school who intentionally hit you in the back of the head, and when you turned around and punched him, you got detention for a month. The instigator of the violence becomes the victim, and gets rewarded.
This is what we are seeing this play out in the Middle East in real time. Hamas attacks Israel with over a thousand rockets sorties aimed at civilians. They set-up their terrorist operations in schools, hospitals, mosques, and other civilian buildings, use Palestinian men, women and children as human shields, and then they paint Israel as the villain because Israel’s response to Hamas’ terrorist attacks injures or kills a child or a civilian. Hamas and the Palestinians are the ultimate floppers, playing the victim when they are the ones who instigated the violence.
Fake victims should never be tolerated for one instance. Not only do they create false villains, but they harm actual victims. Real victims are less likely to be believed because fake victims have created skepticism about accusations of wrong doing. Christine Blaise-Ford’s false charges of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh made it that much harder for real victims of sexual assault to come forward because they fear they will not be believed.
This is what our culture has become. 50 years ago, if a player tried what Elvis Andrus did, the pitcher would have planted a 90-mph fastball in his ear on his next at bat. There was no tolerance for fake victims. Acting as a victim, playing the martyr was not accepted in our culture back then. No one wanted anyone to feel sorry for them, much less trying to figure out how to leverage their victimhood to their monetary or societal advantage.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He is a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.