April 2, 2015

Show some class, fans

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

Respect in sports is something that is taught at every level of every game and for very good reason. It’s fundamental to becoming a good, well-rounded person in not just sports, but in life.

That’s why what fans are doing in Buffalo and at the arenas of many tanking teams is deplorable.

You should never cheer for your own team to lose.

And while you can say it is their freedom of speech to do so, it is not about that – it’s about respect.

Tanking for draft picks is a hot-button topic sports these days, with teams seemingly looking for ways to lose more games to increase their chances at getting a top player in the draft.

It has to stop.

Players and teams should go out and try to win every game they can. If your team isn’t very good, try to develop players and get better. If that’s not working, try using a different strategy. If you can’t think of one, fire the coach and find somebody that can.

It’s no secret that teams like the Sabres, Coyotes, Oiler and Leafs have been tanking for a chance at Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel – the latest surefire future stars. But why is this acceptable?

When the Leafs fired coach Randy Carlyle, they were in a playoff spot. Since then, the team has been absolutely awful sinking to second last in the Eastern Conference.

Under Carlyle, Toronto was 21-16-3. Under Peter Horachek, who has proven to be one of the worst coaches in the league in recent history, the team is 8-27-3.

The fact that the Leafs haven’t fired Horachek for looking this pitiful is a joke.

But, this isn’t a rant about the scourge of tanking in pro sports, it’s about the fans that support it.

By cheering for your team to lose, you are enabling terrible sportsmanship, enabling teams to get away with not competing – which is the essence of sports.

When the team allows a weak goal, don’t cheer it, boo them! You’re not supposed to be happy you’re losing. Show your displeasure that it has come to the fact that your squad is competing for a better draft pick than for a playoff spot.

Even worse, is the opposite end of the spectrum: Booing your team for winning.

In what world should be it considered OK to crap on your favourite team for doing well? It’s insane.

But, this is the sad place we are as a society. And until things change and there’s no incentive to lose games, we’ll always see this despicable action of teams trying to game the system by losing on purpose and we’ll always see fans support it in the hope that this leads to a better team in the future.

The only real justice would be to see none of the teams that are openly tanking win the lottery. It would be amazing to see a team that’s trying its damnedest to actually make the playoffs win with long odds.

If that were the case, I wouldn’t have any problem for a second laughing at the suckers rooting for their teams to tank.

Even better: Watching the Bruins or Senators miss out on the eighth spot and then win the McDavid lottery. That would show their division rivals.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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