Suck for Luck, Wiffin’ for Griffin, Clowning for Clowney, Tank Harder for Parker. However you look at it, ‘tanking’ American sports teams are the core of what’s wrong with American sports. ‘Tanking’ involves a sports team clearly out of the championship race in their league intentionally losing games to worsen their record and get a higher draft spot the following year. Only in America is the absolute worst team in the league awarded the very next year by receiving the highest overall draft pick.
Relegation is the clearest way to solve this problem. The cutthroat system is used in many professional leagues around the world and consistently plays with more heart and at a higher level than what we see in the United States. Why? Because no matter where those teams stand in the standings, they always have something to play for no matter how poorly their season is going. A soccer team playing in England’s Premier League must finish in the top 17 out of the 20 teams in the league because the bottom three get demoted to the lower level league that has its own cities and clubs trying to play their way into the Premier League. A team that gets relegated to a lower level league needs to then finish in the top three of that league in order to be promoted back to the Premier League the following year. This constant vicious cycle always causes teams to bring their ‘A’ game, which results in a better game experience for the fans.
Now in American sports, in leagues full talent deficiencies and massive leagues that certain teams can’t compete in, a relegation system would bring a fresh alternative to watching all sports. If a consistently lousy team like the Cleveland Browns, Sacramento Kings, or perennial dumpster fire Philadelphia 76ers has nothing to play for and is ensured a top pick in the next draft, why would they try to play hard? They will continue to make money, sell tickets and merchandise to loyal fans while they ‘tank’ their season in the hopes of coming back better next year. The talent pool, and quality of games would improve across all sports with a relegation system. How about instead of leagues that house over 30 teams reduce it to 16 teams, with a lower division for the ‘relegated’ teams? Would we still be faced with 41-3 blowouts on Sunday, or basketball teams that win 20 games in an 82 game season? Most teams would be playing their hearts out in order to stay in the top league because of the financial gain as well as national exposure that playing in the top league brings. How many people outside of Ohio would be upset if the Browns get relegated? Why should they get to continually play in a $14 billion league while being the worst team in the league every year and do not seem to do anything to improve themselves? Complacency is rampant in the American sports world, and would be swept out immediately if a relegation system was adopted.
With a relegation system, fans of bad teams would not have to suffer through another dismal season wondering where their team gets a draft pick next year. They would be worried about being able to see their team play at the highest level.
The leagues would be smaller, the rivalries would be tighter, and fans and teams would put a huge emphasis on the regular season, thus improving American sports overall.