Tanking — the practice of bad teams losing on purpose to set themselves up for better draft positioning — is a problem in many sports, but one league just figured out how to solve a tanking problem when faced with it.
As explained by NBC Sports’ Michael David Smith on Saturday, the United States Football League is in the last week of its first regular season.
On the schedule Sunday is a game between the Michigan Panthers and Pittsburgh Maulers, who are tied for the worst record in the league at 1-8.
This would usually be a classic opportunity for tanking, with both teams essentially trying to lose so they can get the top pick in their league’s next draft.
Well, the USFL came up with a solution on the fly to address the problem.
As Smith wrote, the league decided that the winner of the game will get the top pick in the draft rather than the loser.
explained that the rule change was put into place this week to ensure that both the Panthers and Maulers were playing to win.
“Under normal circumstances, the loser of this game would be awarded the first draft pick in the upcoming draft,” USFL executive vice president of football operations Daryl Johnston is quoted as saying.
“But we’re going to change the rules right here, so this weekend whoever wins the game actually gets not only the first pick in the 2023 draft but the first pick in every round of the 2023 draft. Making sure there’s no shenanigans going on.”
The situation is certainly unique, as it’s not often that the two worst teams in a league face each other at the very end of a season. Furthermore, this does not solve tanking throughout an entire season.
Additionally, it would probably be just about impossible to implement something like this on the fly in a larger league like the NFL or NBA.
But for one league in one instance, it just might dissuade the concept of tanking.