This past week, the New York Giants made the decision to bench Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith. In case you need to be reminded, Manning has won two Super Bowl rings, while Smith’s biggest career accomplishment is getting punched by a teammate and sitting out half a season because of a broken jaw. The Giants officially joined the Browns and 49ers in a race to the bottom.
Meanwhile, many MLB trade rumors swirled, especially around Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. The slugger has a no-trade clause, allowing him to veto any trade not to the warm, coastal climate of Southern California. The Marlins told Stanton that if he fails to accept a trade, they will trade away the rest of their talent, leaving him the lone star on a bad ballclub.
It appears that tanking has become the new norm in professional sports. Teams in every league decide to throw away their chances of winning for a season or more, and in return, they get high draft picks and free up salary cap space. Upon first glance, there seems to be no issue for a team to strategically sacrifice the present and invest in the future.
The Philadelphia 76ers, for example, look very promising. Joel Embiid is already a bona fide All-Star, as long as his knees are intact. Ben Simmons has been playing fantastically, and is the presumptive Rookie of the Year. And top draft pick Markelle Fultz still hasn’t shown his full, injury-free potential. There are even rumors that Philadelphia may target LeBron James in free agency. If you trust the process, you like the 76ers’ chances going forward.
While Philadelphia is finally finding success, tanking is a burden on the fans of the team and the rest of the league. It isn’t fun to see a mediocre team get a predictable and free win in a methodical, but demoralizing fashion. And I don’t want to wait for my team to be competitive.
If a team is trying to lose, it muddles the whole point of watching in the first place. Not to mention that tanking inevitably transfers the talent to unstoppable mega teams.
Imagine you decide this semester doesn’t matter anymore. You stop going to class, you don’t do any work, and you don’t study for finals. Instead, you invest all your effort in next semester’s classes by reading the entire textbook in advance and sitting in on classes.
Well, eventually you’ll get angry calls from your parents asking why you’ve failed all your classes this semester. But if you did the equivalent as a general manager of a sports team, you’d win a championship and a seven-figure salary.
The fans deserve better than tanking. It’s time for the professional sports leagues to make sure that teams that play should be playing to win.