Makin’ Bacon: Tanking


This is the spot where you see what gets The Pig hot under the collar. What makes my blood boil and my bacon sizzle. Here’s what’s Makin’ Bacon.

The Term “Tanking”
Having followed tennis for years now, this term has become more and more prevalent. At first, you’d rarely hear someone say that a player “tanked” outside of a disgruntled bettor who lost some money on a player who seemed an obvious winner on a given day. Now, this term has permiated the media to the point where the talking heads will use it routinely. What makes my blood sizzle here is the improper use of the term by 9/10ths of society.

The Pig knows tanking is real.

There is no argument. Some players *cough* Benoit Paire *cough* play with that “don’t give a f*ck” (Coined tennispig acronym – DGAF) attitude around every other corner. A player like Stan Wawrinka shows that DGAF attitude outside of Grand Slams a bit more than you’d think a top five player should. I’m sure the Stanimals will chastise me for that, but look at the results over the past few years and tell me there’s not plenty of DGAF in Wawrinka. Nick Kyrgios may patent DGAF before I can and there’s no argument from me that the Aussie has been guilty of tanking several times.

I Tank, Therefore I DGAF
Tanking is real and by definition is simply a player showing the DGAF spirit. The typical tanker looks more prepared to catch their flight to the next stop on tour or get off court to get to their dinner date than they are to win a game on a given day. That is tanking.

What is not is every stinker of a match where a favored player loses to a player ranked somewhere in between Donald Young and myself in lopsided fashion. By the way, I’m ranked outside the Top 10,000 for the 525th consecutive week.

Think about it. Do you get A+ results every day in your life in everything you do? I don’t. I mean look at this article. The same thing goes for tennis players. Some days, nothing works. Some days you go from A+ to F in the same match, whether it’s due to fitness issues, illness or just a rancid case of the brain farts.

The Pig also likes to call that last one “French Brain” because the most rancid of brain farts seem to have their origin stories from inside a Frenchman. See Mr.Paire. See Gael Monfils. See Jeremy Chardy. At times, they seem to revel in the cloud of their own brain fart crop dusting efforts on a match. This is not tanking. This is terrible shot selection, momentary loss of brain control or the realization that you’re in the position of success and that scares the living poop out of you.

Are they tanking? Perhaps at times, but more often, you’ll see the frustration on their faces to show that whatever they are doing that day is simply not working. World class athletes are not immune to “off days” just like you and I. If a player wins the opening set 6-3 and then proceeds to lose in three sets by a score line of 6-3, 2-6, 1-6; the world proclaims them to be tanking these days. If Novak Djokovic wins after dropping the opening set 3-6 and then securing a 6-2, 6-1 score line, we celebrate his tenacity at coming back after a slow start. You’d never hear the tanking army talk of the Serb “throwing” the opening set.

Look Within Padawan, The Force Is Your Use of the Term
So why apply it uniformly to any result that YOU don’t expect? Maybe YOU are the problem. Okay let me rephrase that, YOU are the problem because you’re continuing to misuse the tanking term. Every day in sports, there are upsets. Cinderella burns Goliath. Mediocrity rules for a moment.

Look at the recently completed NCAA basketball tournament for proof. Do we say a third seed like West Virginia tanked because a #14 seed like Stephen F. Austin stunned them by 14 points? Negative Ghost Rider. We celebrate the underdog’s ability to pull of the stunner. Do we look at Syracuse’s rise in the second half against Virginia from down double digits in the Elite 8 and call that a tank against Virginia? No piggies, THAT IS A CHOKE. There is a fundamental difference.

And that takes us full circle, back to the beginning of this smoky and robust rant. There are fundamental differences between tanking and playing poorly. The struggle to determine which is which is real. So, maybe ease back on using that term “tanking” next time you see a player flop in what you thought was a mostly winnable spot. It might not be a case of tanking, it might just be that they suck on that day.


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