'Flopping' research could lead to changes in the NBA

SMU Prof. Peter Weyand hold a media day to promote better understanding of his research into "flopping," which is being funded by a grant from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.


UNIVERSITY PARK — A dramatic gesture is sometimes all it takes to get your opponent in trouble on the basketball court.

Sometimes it's hard to tell what's real.

But with money from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, a research team in Dallas is doing a scientific study on the difference between "fouls" and "flops."

There are entire pages of compilation videos on YouTube showing the best (or worst, depending on your point of view) examples of "flopping" in the NBA — pro basketball players suspected of embellishing the extent of contact with other players to persuade the ref to blow the whistle.

But how can you really tell — even with a replay — when an athlete is, in fact, faking a foul?

With more than $100,000 in funding from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, SMU professor Peter Weyand and his team set out nine months ago on a research project dubbed "The Physics of Flopping: Blowing the Whistle on a Foul Practice."

It's a whimsical name for a study, but one that could change the way the game is played — or at least officiated.

"We try to have fun doing the science," Weyand said. "If we are successful with it, there is a lot of potential application."

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