By Marcus ChhanFollow @@MarcusChhan
I have a problem with football. It's full of divers.
There are many things which irritate me about diving in football (it's basically cheating and also very unmanly too) but the one thing which really gets my blood boiling is that for years this great sport has just accepted it as part of how the game has evolved.
Season after season, the relevant authorities that run the 'Beautiful Game' seem content to put the issue of diving so low on their list of priorities that nothing has been done to curb the spread of this disease.
In fact, some football cultures - for example in Italy - diving isn't even seen as a cardinal sin or viewed as unsportsmanlike conduct, instead it's credited as a player being too smart for his opponent in winning a penalty or free-kick when the referee would not have given one otherwise. I disagree.
So when the NBA announced this week its initial plan for how they intend to penalise "floppers" - basketball's version of a diver - it really got my attention. And I hope FIFA, UEFA and all the rest of the bodies which govern football around the globe take notice too.
The NBA says they intend to penalise floppers this season, fining players for repeated violations which "fool referees into calling undeserved fouls or fool fans into thinking the referees missed a foul call."
The NBA have defined flopping as "any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player."
Violation 1: Warning
Violation 2: $5,000 fine
Violation 3: $10,000 fine
Violation 4: $15,000 fine
Violation 5: $30,000 fine
Now here's the important part because we all know footballers, like most athletes, are filthy rich: Six or more of these violations could lead to a suspension.
This is key because with the type of money footballers earn these days, the only way to get their undivided attention as well as their managers' is to tell them they will miss games as a result of serial diving.
Here's another thing to note: The NBA league office will take a retroactive approach to identifying and subsequently punishing offenders. The fact that they do not plan to dump this responsibility on the referees - they have enough things to deal with during the course of a game - is something football should seriously consider as well. At least this way football can use some technology to help them make the game fairer.
In cricket, for example, we can see how the right implementation of new regulations can turn a negative aspect of the game into less of an issue. In this instance I am referring to the decline over the years of no-balls in cricket following the introduction of the "free-hit".
In October 2007, ICC introduced the rule which stated that the batsman cannot be dismissed on the next ball following a no-ball in the hope this would encourage bowlers to be more disciplined. It worked.
Since the free-hit was introduced the number of no-balls bowled has steadily fallen across both Twenty-20 and ODI formats - according to research done by Cricinfo. In the 2008 season, there were 82 no-balls in 58 games (1.41 per match), 78 in 57 games (1.36) the following year and just 60 in 74 matches (0.81) in 2010. In 2011, the figure did rise to 86 no-balls across 73 games (1.17 per match) but went back down to 0.80 in 2012 in the 25 matches that had finished when the analysis was done.
The end result is pretty clear: Bowlers are taking more care to avoid hurting their team's chances of winning.
Going back to our topic of diving in football, you would expect something similar to happen here. A football player can't help his team win games if he is suspended - so it is paramount that the any new regulations on diving follow a similar path to the NBA and have the authority to suspend repeat offenders.
We're never going to eliminate diving in football but we can take steps to seriously reduce the number of instances of it happening during the season. What the NBA is doing is definitely a good first step and already some high profile players such as Kobe Bryant have welcomed the impact this could have on basketball.
The system is by no means perfect and there will be issues along the way for the NBA to iron out in its debut season. However, sitting back and doing nothing is never the answer to a problem.
If football did that, it would be the biggest flop of all.
You can follow Marcus on his Twitter account @MarcusChhan for more insights from the world of sport.