It looks like Chuck Deezy is going to be be giving MLS W.O.R.K.S. a nice little gift in honor of his 25th birthday. Charlie Davies was fined $1,000 by the league today for "putting the game into disrepute in the 83rd minute of the match against Real Salt Lake." Reactions have run the gamut from "This is nonsense, diving is part of the game!" through "He should have been suspended, too!" right up to "Take a point away from DC and give two to RSL! He changed the outcome!"
Clearly, I think all of those are wrong. I think MLS hit the nail on the head with this sanction. Find out why after the jump.
What CD9 did was, in a word, wrong. We'll start there. As a league, MLS really doesn't want people to dive or for there to be a reputation of diving in the league. They had to do something. Diving may be part of the game - and that's why you don't change the score post facto or alter the standings - but that doesn't mean it can't be disincentivized through punishment off the pitch. That's where the fine comes in.
"But AMT," you might be thinking to yourself, "his dive changed the outcome of the game, and a grand is chump change to a guy like Charlie Davies. That level of punishment is never going to stop dives in the future." And mostly you'd be right to think that. But MLS included a particular sentence in their announcement of the fine - and that's where the real teeth are:
Moving forward, all instances of behavior that serves to deceive and that directly impact the game will be subject to severe discipline, including a fine, suspension or both.
Call this an inverse Brian Mullan. Rather than coming down hard to make an example of Davies, they were relatively lenient (in comparison to Mullan, anyway). And in this case, that's the right tack. Mullan went into a tackle hard and angry and ended a guy's season after the league had said it was going to step up to protect players from just that sort of malicious tackle. Until today, there had been no such "point of emphasis" placed on simulation/embellishment/deception. Now there has, and that's why the next player to get caught auditioning for the Diving Team is going to take it in the teeth, just like Mullan did.
That's the way it's supposed to be. You make the rule, and then you enforce it - not the other way around. Otherwise you're just playing Calvinball. Had the league announced during preseason that dives, etc. would be "subject to severe discipline," then I'd be right there with people calling for a game's suspension. But there wasn't. So a relatively minor sanction for Chuck, along with an announcement that this behavior is out of bounds and future violators will be tossed to the Whomping Willow, is absolutely the appropriate response.
Alright, you wonderful readers, what do you think - was the league right today, or did they add to their long tradition of screwing up? Vote in the poll, and let's hear it in the comments.