I came across an interesting statement while scrolling through my phone the other day: Currently, all four major Detroit sports teams are in last place for their respective divisions. The first thing I thought was, “How did it get this bad?”
Gone are the days of the Bad Boy Pistons, the Barry Sanders Lions and the Prince Fielder Tigers. These teams all competed for or won championships, and they brought the city of Detroit hope and entertainment. Nowadays, our major sports teams tend to be the laughing stock of whatever league they’re playing in.
So seriously, how did it get this bad? How has it been over 10,000 days since the Lions won a playoff game?
I believe it comes down to a few factors, one of which is the fact that Detroit isn’t a very attractive place to live for free agents. Detroit is among one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, and for a lot of the year, it’s freezing cold. Star players tend to lean for bigger, warmer markets, such as Los Angeles, Miami and Houston.
This makes it difficult for Detroit to go and compete for big-name stars. It’s a tough sell to convince big-name stars that living in a cold, snowy state is better than living in Miami. In sports such as football, where you only play September through February, you have about six months of the year off. Many free agents over the years have said something along the lines of, “What am I supposed to do for six months in Detroit?”
Because big stars don’t typically sign with Detroit teams, what’s the answer?
The answer is “tanking.” Tanking is a term used in the sports world to describe purposefully losing as many games as you can to get a higher pick in the upcoming draft. The worse the team, the better the draft pick. These higher draft picks give you a chance to get the best studs coming out of college, who are obligated to sign with you for at least two years.
But Detroit can’t even get tanking right. Our teams are known to have horrible selections in drafts when they tank, especially the Pistons. The Pistons have passed up on names like Dwayne Wade, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Donovan Mitchell over the years, instead picking guys who we either don’t need or don’t use correctly.
The Lions had the eighth pick in the NFL draft this year, and with amazing studs like Devin Bush and Rashan Gary still on the board, they picked tight end T.J. Hockenson. Hockenson is a great player, but Devin Bush would’ve filled a much needed spot on a totally lackluster Lions defense who could use an injection of youth.
Tanking and attracting free agents are the key to contending for championships. All four major sports teams have trouble doing both. And for us fans, it feels like we’re caught in a cycle of disappointment. The management of these teams has to be better.
I love Detroit and it’s teams. All I want is for them to succeed and give the success-starved city what they want – a chance to win. Tank, get a good draft pick and pick a big-name stud. Build around him and show free agents that Detroit is a valuable place to play.
Until then, it’s back to watching college sports.