Does Tanking in Sports Ruin the Integrity of the Game?

Tanking in sports has long been an issue with league commissioners. Of the four main sports in the United States, baseball and football follow a draft system based on worst to first. However, basketball and hockey have a lottery system that determines the draft order for non-playoff teams.

The NBA has used a lottery system since 1985 while the NHL’s lottery system began in 1995.

The NHL began a new weighted lottery system in 2013, but is making more changes this year to increase the odds for all 14 non-playoff teams to get the top pick in the draft. The ten highest-finishing non-playoff qualifying teams receive better draft lottery odds than they received previously while the four lowest-finishing teams receive lower odds of getting the top pick.SABRES_LOGO_644x396_2014

There has been much talk in regards to tanking in the NHL these days. The Buffalo Sabres are ranked last in the NHL with 47 points and lost at home 4-3 last in overtime to the Arizona Coyotes who have the second worst record in the NHL. The two teams meet in Arizona Monday night.

Many are questioning Sabres’ coach Ted Nolan’s decision to start Matt Hackett in goal last night. Hackett had not won an NHL game in over a year and was 0-3 in his starts this season.

Was Nolan hoping the Sabres’ chances of winning decreased by playing Hackett over number one netminder Anders Lindback? Only Nolan can answer that question, but defended his decision by pointing out to reporters that Hackett can become an unrestricted free agent if he does not play at least 30 minutes in each of the last five games.

Sabres’ fans were actually cheering when the Coyotes scored last night. Is it wrong for fans to openly root for their teams to lose? It happens in all sports, but is that showing support for your team and its players?

Management in Buffalo has cleaned house over the last two seasons in hopes of rebuilding the Sabres. If they finish last, they would be ensured of no lower than the second pick in June’s draft where they would be happy to add Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.

I have no problem with fans cheering against their team to lose if it could make them better in the future. Fans in Buffalo have still attended games regularly while seeing an inferior product on the ice.

What I also understand is that it must be tough on the players to see their own fans root against them. Sabres’ defenseman Mike Weber shared his thoughts on how he felt listening to Sabres’ fans cheer after the Coyotes’ first goal.

“I don’t even know if disappointed is the word. They score that first one, our fans are cheering. Late penalty, they cheer. They cheer when they score to win the game. I don’t even know what to say. This is extremely frustrating for us. We don’t want to be here. We understand where we are. We understand what this team’s doing, what the organization’s doing, the place we’ve put ourselves in. But I’ve never been a part of something like that, where the away team comes into a home building, and they’re cheering for them…”

Again, I’ve never been a part of that, obviously, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger I guess, but this is a whole new low right now.”

Fans booed when Brian Gionta tied the game at 3 and also when the horn sounded at the end of the third period with the two teams headed to overtime.

Should the NHL change the draft lottery where the worst team in the league is not guaranteed a first round pick lower than number two? Maybe the uncertainty of the lottery would lower the possibilities of tanking.

What are your thoughts? Is it right for a professional sports’ team to tank in order to try to obtain a better draft choice?

And that’s…as I see it!

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