The idea of being rewarded for losing is something common on US sports. Having the worst record in the league means that you get good draft picks and the opportunity (in some years) of drafting a generational talent. That never sit well with me, teams that have terrible records throughout the year shouldn’t be rewarded for being terrible all year and with tanking it makes all major US leagues a bit boring, but there’s a solution, Relegation.
I know what you are asking, “what’s relegation?” Well, relegation is to move the teams with the worst records from the league to the second tier division and the best teams from the second division take the place of the relegated teams. This would stop tanking once and for all in US sports leagues.
Relegation also comes with some inicial drawbacks to the relegated teams like earning less money from TV deals, like we see in football (soccer) leagues in Europe. The lower parts of the table for US sports league would become exciting, it would be all about teams fighting to stay on the league until the bitter end and not about giving up on the season halfway through it. This model has worked so well for Europe not only in Football (soccer), but also in Basketball.
I know what you are thinking, “but what about the draft?'” Easy, the team that has the best record from the second division and is getting ascending into the first division is the team that should get the number one pick on the draft. This would be an extra reward for the teams that are coming up to the league. Another part of this change would be that the team in the 9th position or the team that barely didn’t make it to the playoffs would get the 3rd or 4th draft pick, again with the idea of rewarding teams for their performance during the season.
The addition of Relegation opens a lot of different doors, like the addition of more teams to the second division and that itself means the creation of more franchises. Seattle could finally have a sports team after years of speculation and failed attempts. More teams would make for more interesting things and the creation of a third division for the teams that get relegated from the second division. This would also mean more games and in this era where the more content you have the better, this would help leagues get even more money.
Could relegation actually be a thing in US sports leagues? Unfortunately, this is a very unlikely scenario and big change to the way sports work in the US. There’s also drawbacks to this idea, what if teams like The Lakers for example that are huge ratings draws for the NBA are relegated? that could be a major blow to the league and the franchise itself. Another problem is rebuilds would take more time than they usually are in US sports leagues. At the end of the day, is too big of change to actually happen and would require a lot of money and that investment is not a guarantee to bring major returns to the league and franchises.