Pressbox Hat Trick
Rants and commentaries on the latest hot topics in sport. Pressbox and hot dogs not included.
Julian McKenzie, Vince Morello, Tristan d’Amours & Joshua Rosenbaum all deal with their brackets for the NCAA Final Four Tournament, talk NBA, NHL, and more!
During TSN’s Tradecentre Special on March 2nd, former National Hockey League coach Ron Wilson revealed that he was told to “tank” in order to give his team a better chance at a high draft pick in the NHL draft that summer. Reactions were mixed, to say the least.
Whether we like it or not, some of our favourite teams aren’t good enough to play in the post-season and should probably just call it a season. Teams shouldn’t be discouraged but encouraged(!) to lose games on purpose for a better chance at landing a top pick in your upcoming draft.
I understand that it’s difficult for field players who won’t give you the best chance at winning (to the chagrin of players and fans) only because better days may be ahead – especially for the players. Athletes don’t like to lose. Is it fair to blame players for not doing enough, in order to position their team to tank? Probably not.
But I’d rather see a team be god-awful and end the season near the bottom of the standings, than be mediocre and tease the idea of making the playoffs, only to have the door shut violently on their fingers.
Sports fans, it hurts way less when you accept the tanking measures and don’t struggle with it. Just ask the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA who have been tanking since last off-season with a relatively no-name roster.
I’m perfectly fine with non-playoff teams having a chance at the top draft pick. I’m not okay with those teams having an equal chance.
Imagine a team that’s one nudge away from being a consistent playoff performer in their conference (or, because of conference parity, would likely make the playoffs if they were in another conference/division) getting the number one overall pick, while a bottom feeder who could surely use the pick languishes at a missed opportunity?
It doesn’t help that last-place team if they’re in a market that won’t command attention from players during free agency or through trades.
It will be cheaper for a team to invest, and easier to pin words like “rebuild” and “come-up”, on a young, budding superstar and make him a focal point of your team. NHL teams like the Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes and (hey, why not) the Toronto Maple Leafs, would love to have highly touted picks in Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel from the 2015 draft to build around.
From then on, it’s up to the teams’ management on how to deal with their players. But it’s important that lesser teams are given opportunities to get better in order to maintain parity.
Oh, and I see you, snarky soccer fan who argues that lesser teams who get relegated are never rewarded with a chance at getting better. Enjoy losing out on players because you can’t keep up with big spenders (that’s an argument for the salary cap).
Soccer needs work on managing teams with their pocketbooks, but unless West Bromwich Albion finds a breakthrough in their scouting department or they stumble upon an oil sheik who’s interested in owning the club, competing against Chelsea, both Manchester clubs and so forth is futile.
In the meantime, let the minnows of professional leagues tank on. I salute you, Philadelphia 76ers, in your quest for a top pick. As for Toronto, Buffalo, Arizona, Edmonton and the rest of the bottom feeders, good luck to you all, and be wary of this anti-tanking measure that may stop you.
Episode 6 of the Podcast is here! Julian McKenzie, Vince Morello and Tristan D’amours talk sports with special guest Erica Pishdadian!
Julian McKenzie, Vince Morello, Tristan D’amours and Joshua Rosenbaum are at it again! We preview our future articles for The Link, Canadian Interuniversity Basketball, the Montreal Impact “Miracle in the Big O”, the recent NHL trade deadline, and the Tweet Controversy surrounding the Maple Leafs.
For those who barely follow soccer or world politics, the tiny Middle Eastern country of Qatar may seem quite inoffensive—most probably haven’t even heard of it. However, for those who revolve around the soccer planet, the country has been a source of frustration and desperation for several years now.
On December 2, 2010, it was announced that the 2022 FIFA World Cup would be played in Qatar. It was a shocking decision from the get-go. The location of Qatar makes it very difficult to host the tournament in its regular summer time slot. Temperatures in the summer months exceed 40 degrees Celsius and this would be a health issue for the players who have no choice but to run around the pitch for 90 minutes.
It was only a few months ago that FIFA announced they’d found a solution for the unbearable heat—hosting the tournament in the winter (or fall).
The exact months aren’t set in stone yet, but whether the World Cup is played in November or in January the consensus is loud and clear. This will screw up the world of football, especially where it works the most: Europe.
FIFA’s decision begs the question: why would association soccer’s governing body even consider a country like Qatar in the first place?
Ask this question in a pub in most countries around the world and the answer will probably be shouted at you in a split-second. Corruption. Money. Basically what you’d expect of a normal pub conversation on politics.
But those people may not be all wrong.
An 18-month investigation led by former New York district attorney Michael Garcia was started to look further into both the 2022 World Cup bid and the 2018 bid, won by Russia.
In November of 2014, FIFA’s ethics committee decided that there was no sufficient evidence to take away the tournament from either Russia or Qatar.
Less than a month after these actions, Michael Garcia resigned as FIFA’s investigative director. “As my public statement at the time explained,” Garcia told The Telegraph,” the [FIFA ethics committee] Decision contained ‘numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of facts and conclusions.’”
Garcia was so fed up with FIFA’s activities and attempts at damage control that he preferred to leave.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. We haven’t even looked at the treatment of workers that build the stadiums and accommodations for the tournament.
The International Trade Union Confederation estimated that at least 4,000 migrant workers, mainly from Nepal, Sri Lanka and India, will be dead before the World Cup even starts.
Workers in Qatar told The Guardian that they were forced to work in 50 degree heat, that their salaries were retained for several months, that their passports were taken from them to prevent them from leaving and that they were denied free water to drink.
The Guardian also reported that Qatar recruited migrant workers from North Korea who work without daring to complain while Pyongyang pockets 90% or more of their earnings.
Back to the 2021 Confederation’s Cup, which has been stripped from Qatar. FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said that the event will be played in another Asian country. No one from FIFA has given a specific reason as to why they took the hosting rights of the Confederations Cup from Qatar.
This whole situation has been detrimental to world football for the past four to five years. The outrage of last summer’s World Cup in Brazil was sad in every way, but it’s no match for what the Qatari are already getting, even with seven years left to go before 2022. Qatar should not have received the hosting rights to the 2022 World Cup; I don’t think that’s shocking to anyone.
As for the Confederations Cup, the choice of country within the Asian Football Confederation seems simple: Australia, which was the easy favourite right out of the gate.
The Australians have a country in which soccer is rapidly gaining ground and it would be great to see them host a major event. They hosted a very successful Asian Cup tournament that saw the host country running away with the title. Australia could also host soccer’s biggest event, as they were a bidding country for that same World Cup tournament.
Another nation that could consider hosting the 2022 World Cup is the USA. They were finalists in the bidding process but lost to Qatar and many Americans are still bitter about it to this day.
The Americans are used to hosting major events and have the stadiums to prove it. Next year, they will host the hundredth edition of the Copa America, the continental tournament of South America. The tournament will include cities from coast to coast.
Hosting the World Cup on Australian or American soil would be a better option for FIFA, who are constantly in damage control mode—and don’t seem to be very good at it. There are a lot of things that still need to be uncovered about Qatar’s World Cup bid, but let’s simply acknowledge that the two reasons I mentioned are good enough to strip the coveted tournament from the tiny nation.