Tanking (No, Not Twerking) Is the ‘It’ Thing for Sports in 2013 By: (@BWMahoney213)
Let’s face it: The current U.S. economy is ugly. Compare that to any status of a sports franchise in terms of success or failure, and you get one thing in common—the future must look brighter. And I support any logical method of improving your team, which is why tanking is becoming the newest trend in professional sports.
The NBA currently will open its season with the mega stars featured, especially LeBron James/Dwayne Wade/Chris Bosh of thee two-time reigning champion Miami Heat. The NBA is all sizzle, and no steak compared to yesteryear. The marquee teams exclusively favored air-time by the national media all have a dominating presence. To take a page from the Oakland Athletics (of Major League Baseball) there is no “small-ball” or any cast of underdogs that can rally as the purest form of a team. There is no “I” in team but there is an “I” in skill, and the NBA has moved away from an all-out competition or parity to a dog eat dog demolition come playoff time.
And this why tanking is in right now, most prominently in the NBA. Everyone wants the most balls in the lottery. The Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers are the biggest culprits of this form of tanking, entering the 2013-2014 season. Their general managers have wildly gone bold and decimated one core of players (or even coaches) and have looked ahead. Why?
Andrew Wiggins of Kansas. Julius Randle of Kentucky. Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State.
Rumblings of the 2014 NBA Draft—even before the 2013 NBA Draft, influenced the 76ers to trade their franchise player in point guard Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for draft value (and Nerlens Noel, who’s sitting out until he heals). Sixer fans usually have not been vocal at all since Allen Iverson was running the floor back in the early 2000’s, but on the 2013 Draft night Sixer fans blasted the team for trading Holiday, a raw guard entering his prime. On the other hand, there was a select number of fans and media that praised the Sixers of strategizing players that can be assembled for a future powerhouse while the current one (Miami Heat) will start to fade and lose their mojo by natural age.
The Celtics too changed the culture of their team quite swiftly. This was more pressing for them as their 2008 championship leaders—Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen—all had lost their luster and overall value due to age. Boston traded Garnett, Pierce, and other players to the Brooklyn Nets for future 1st round picks. Along with Doc Rivers going to the L.A. Clippers, the Celtics are all about suffering in 2014 but recovering down the road with a revamped roster.
For the NFL, you can be king for a day and a fool the next. A franchise can build or crumble around just one player—do the names Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, or Charles Rogers ring a bell?
The NFL is currently seeking players to fit the mold of this fluid offensive-mindset that is encompassing nearly every offensive coordinator these days. The product of this comes from the San Francisco 49ers and their lauded QB Colin Kaepernick. Almost an unknown 2nd round pick in 2011, Kaepernick was holding the clipboard for starting QB Alex Smith until Smith was injured in the middle of the 2012 season. Instantly, Kaepernick became an overnight sensation and nearly won Super Bowl XLVII for the Bay Area. His trademark burst of athleticism is now valued by other teams in desperate need of an offensive overhaul.
Now tanking has not been a common term thrown around the NFL because of the unpredictability of any given Sunday, any given season. The NFL has more injuries per team annually than you can count freckles on a face. But with the instant gratification of internet buzz, scouting sites, and investment of scouting for the draft—word spreads like wildfire when scouts analyze and report who’s hot and who’s not from the college ranks. Mainly, this discussion involves the quarterback and the 2014 NFL Draft could feature a deep class of quarterbacks much like the NBA Draft will feature potential star power.
Marcus Mariota (Oregon), Teddy Bridgewater (Lousiville), Zach Mettenberger (LSU), Brett Hundley (UCLA), Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), and Tahj Boyd (Clemson) all have the potential to squeeze into the 1st round.
Boyd and Mettenberger are the only ones who are seniors coming out while Bridgewater is a junior. Hundley, Mariota, and Manziel are all red-shirt sophomores and eligible for 2014, but it is yet to be seen what they will do at the end of the college football season.
Which brings up the shades of ‘tanking’ from one team particular—the Cleveland Browns. On September 18, 2013, the Browns unexpectedly shipped their once coveted running back Trent Richardson (a 2012 first round pick, number 3 overall) to the Indianapolis Colts for their 1st round pick. Talk about throwing in the chips. The Browns without a doubt are the most snakebitten team in all of sports. Given the number of quarterbacks come and gone since their rebirth in 1999—the Browns wanted to give themselves an early advantage over other teams vying for one of the premier quarterbacks in coming into the 2014 NFL Draft. Their current starter is Brandon Weeden, yet another 1st round pick gone to waste in 2012 by the old regime run by Mike Holmgren.
As of late October, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are both 0-7. The Jags have been stewing at the bottom for quite some time and have brought in a new head coach, Gus Bradley, so they’re just a franchise QB away from at least going somewhere. Tampa Bay is a train wreck and head coach Greg Schiano has no idea what he’s doing with a mid-round QB Mike Glennon trying to survive the season without tossed to the wolves for one of the aforementioned prospects.
The Minnesota Vikings can’t make up their mind on a quarterback, juggling Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman, and Matt Cassel and might be pulling a fast one on everyone just to give Adrian Peterson a superstar quarterback to hand him the ball.
The St. Louis Rams, Houston Texans, and Philadelphia Eagles aren’t necessarily tanking—they’re stuck in a quicksand of mediocrity and would benefit from tanking to return to the playoffs.
As a sports fan, do you now possibly see the ironic joy of losing?