Accepted Sanitized Euphemism: Tanking
Sophisticated Euphemism: Strategic Losing
Realistic Euphemism: Throwing a Game
One of the more revolting and embarrassing trends in recent sports history is what’s known as ‘tanking.’ Tanking is a term that’s supposed to confer honor on a practice that is dishonorable in every known pursuit; losing on purpose.
Would you invest in a company who’s annual report outlined a plan for being lousy for a year or two so that they could be profitable down the road? Would you trust the same management who’s decisions were supposed to result in the organization’s success but resulted in failure, plan the failure that would lead to the organization’s success?
This is the lunacy of sports in 2017.
Just to be clear, this is what we – sports fans – are being asked to accept and support:
- Firing of regime that could not bring a winning team to our town
- Hiring of new administrators and coaches who have a plan
- Patience and respect ‘for the process’ that will produce a winner
- Tinkering with original plan, adjusting to changing dynamics of pro sports, in order to compete
- Trashing original plan and ‘tanking’ to improve draft position to help rebuild
- Believing that this ‘new’ regime who didn’t know how to win knows how to lose strategically, maybe for a while
- Believing that strategic losing will be the fix needed in order to win
- Believing that the regime that couldn’t win, could throw games and lose, and then figure out how to win
I can imagine what the conversation with a coach/general manager would be like if I was the owner of a team – *cough The New York Jets and Knicks cough* – that had committed tens of millions of dollars and a certain amount of years and human capital to a plan, only to be told there’s a new plan they want to initiate. A plan that features losing on purpose.
Photo: Amusing Planet
Me: Come on in coach/GM. How come we stunk last year? I thought you had a plan.
Coach/GM: Well sir, we had this plan, but it didn’t work. So we are re-grouping and have come up with a new plan.
Me (already displeased): Yea, I saw the games. What’s this new plan and how much is it going to cost me?
Coach/GM (somewhat nervous): You see, we looked at our team’s needs and we realized that if we can improve our draft position for next year’s draft we can get the franchise quarterback we’ve been looking for, if things work out.
Me (wishing I had trap door system under coach/GM’s chair, like a James Bond villain): Hmm. So by ‘improve our draft position’ you mean ‘lose.’
Coach/GM (fidgeting slightly in chair): Well sir, there’s this can’t miss quarterback that we think can solve our problems and be the kind of player we can build a franchise around.
Me (not even fake smiling anymore): So where is this quarterback projected to be picked in the draft?
Coach/GM (looking around nervously for help, like Mel Kiper or Mike Mayock will walk in the room): Well sir, our scouts and all of the mock drafts have him going number 1 overall.
Me (looking around hopefully, like Bill Belichick or Pete Carroll will walk in the room looking for a job): So, your plan is to have the worst record in the league? When you were hired wasn’t your plan to have the best record? So you’re saying we need to go 0-16 to make the team better?
Coach/GM (sweating profusely): Sir, we don’t have to lose every game…Two or three wins should put us in the top position…
Me (interrupting): But the only way to guarantee the top draft spot is to lose every game. If your past performance is any indication, there certainly were plenty of other guys better at winning than you, surely someone is better at losing than you are. You’re fired…
Tanking is an insult to sports fans in general, regardless of the city, sport or team. If a team somewhere is tanking, it’s hurting your team regardless of how good they may be.
Season ticket holders, holders of PSLs, individual ticket holders. Screwed, screwed, screwed.
PSL owners really have it the worst. What a bunch of saps. P.T. Barnum was talking about them, when he said that thing about suckers. Under the best of circumstances they own something that’s basically worthless. PSL holders for a tanking franchise are really the worst of the worst.
Jets PSL holders are in a league of their own when it comes to futility and despair, for not only do they hold a license for Team Tank, their team doesn’t even own the stadium. Time Share condo owners laugh at Jets PSL holders.
And to make matters worse some of these poor schmucks actually call sports radio shows in support of the team tanking!
Caller: ‘Yea Mike, I’m a season ticket holda an I’m as sick a losin’ as da next guy, but dis Darnold kid is da the real deal an’ if it takes losin’ for a yeah to get ‘im, I’m awl foah it. I mean did you see dat Bowl game? He’s a kid ya can build a team around…’
Mike: ‘Dunno? The Mets catcher?!? Are you nuts!’
Caller: ‘No Mike. Sam Darnold. the USC quarterback…’
I think the Stockholm Syndrome applies to PSL holders of recidivist shitty NFL franchises. Willingly throwing away thousands of dollars before the season starts for games you know your team isn’t even going to try to win.
Back to throwing games…Its a topsy turvy world out there, even the world of sports. Times have changed, that much is clear. Losing is winning and winning is losing. And as long as fans accept it and willingly go along with the scam, teams will continue to throw games.