Mark Cuban, the outspoken owner of the Dallas Mavericks and a judge on Shark Tank, was recently fined a cool $600,000 for some public comments that he made on tanking. If you’re unfamiliar with with every detail of sports (which we try to assume around here), you might think tanking is related to Mr. Cuban’s activities as a shark but you would be wrong.
Most people would say “tanking” occurs when a team loses on purpose. Losing on purpose, or “throwing” individual games, is actually a more serious offensive typically and is seen as an act of cheating (because you’re unfairly determining outcomes by losing on purpose).
A team tanks when they do less than everything in their power it can do to win games or matches. This can be accomplished in a number in a number of ways. However, professional athletes rarely, if ever, play to lose. The most common way it is done is when a general manager assembles a team of players that are so bad they just are not competitive.
The reason a team tanks is due to the way in which many sports leagues award the worst teams in the league at the end of each season. The draft order, where the best and brightest college or international athletes are brought into the receptive leagues, is determined by a lottery system, and the team with the worst record has the most tickets and the lottery and thus the best chance of getting a top player.
Mark Cuban was fined $600,000 for effectively making comments that suggested he thought the best thing for the Mavericks to do is to tank. That $600,000 is a whole 0.02% of his net worth. Assuming the average net worth of Americans is $300,000, that is equivalent to a huge… $50 fine. It’s worth noting that the median net worth is closer to $50,000. It seems that the average is being skewed upwards by Cuban and the rest of the 1%.
So with super rich athletes and team owners getting fined every once in a while, the big economic question, in our opinion, is this: what happens to all that money? The short answer: it gets donated, which is actually pretty awesome. Mark Cuban himself is known for matching each of his fines, which now total over $2 million, with a donation to charity.
For the long answer: check out this article from Ahiza Garcia and CNNMoneySport.