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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Unnecessary roughness in sports makes a difference

Unnecessary roughness is unavoidable in any sport. However, there is a fine line between foul play and the natural spirit of the game, especially in soccer and basketball.


“There’s a difference between playing [dirty and playing aggressively],” senior soccer player Steven Ruff said. “You can foul someone intentionally and not be playing dirty because its just part of the game.”

The player’s intention differentiates foul play from natural roughness. When the purpose is to hurt an opponent, it crosses the line into foul play. Playing dirty also comes in the form of lying. “Flopping” is faking or exaggerating injuries in order to foul the other team.

“[Most players] exaggerate a foul to get a foul especially close to or in the penalty box,” soccer player Sam Guy said.

In soccer most foul play involves throwing elbows or shoulders when fighting for possession of the ball. The worst  forms of roughness, such as slide tackling, can result in injury.

Fouls mostly result in a free kick, but in extreme cases the referee may issue a yellow card or even a red card. Two yellow results in a red card, which ejects the player from the game.

“Nobody in our team has been red-carded but we’ve had a few yellow cards. Normally, a yellow card consists of either a really unnecessary and rough foul or an argument with the referee,” Ruff said.

When another team initiates foul play, some players will look for a foul while some opt to retaliate, whether or not it is allowed. Those who retaliate believe that the opposing player will keep fouling unless he or she is fouled back.

“If a kid fouls me, I’ll go back and foul him harder,” Ruff said.


Like soccer basketball has its share of intended and unintended contact. When referees see a player making contact with another player, they often blow the whistle. After five personal fouls, the player is ejected from the game.

“There’s a lot of rules in basketball about fouls and usually the refs are pretty strict about it,” senior shooting guard Michelle Won said.

Each referee calls the game slightly differently. Because of this, the players need to alter their technique in order to accommodate the referee’s judgment for each game.

“It sometimes isn’t fair because [the other team is] pushing you a lot and pulling on your jersey and not ever getting called for it,” said Won. “But you can’t really do anything about it unless the refs call it or the coaches complain about it.”

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