Matt Hoover is a 35-year-old software engineer who lives in Chicago and who has very much enjoyed the New York area’s recent lack of pro sports success.
But it is not primarily because of intercity rivalry. It is because of his website, "Tankathon," which he describes as "a site for fans of bad teams that are looking for a source of hope for the future."
Hence: "The Knicks traffic, Jets, Giants, it’s been a good run in New York for me."
Most recently, the winless Jets have provided a burst of attention. Each week, journalists and fans who follow the team turn to "Tankathon" for updates on the "race" for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The prize is expected to be Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and what once was a tight multi-team battle has come down largely to the 0-11 Jets and 1-10 Jaguars.
The problem for the Jets is that their strength of schedule currently is better than the Jaguars’. Per the tiebreaker procedure, if the teams finish with the same record, the Jets will pick behind Jacksonville.
One Jets victory could ruin the whole thing. "Yeah, that’s a lot of pressure to lose," Hoover said.
He calculates schedule strength based on the current records of every team on the schedule, not just those from games that already have been played.
That approach provides a more accurate, bigger picture and one less prone to fluctuations. So with the Jets’ opponents currently sporting a .591 winning percentage and the Jaguars’ a .555, their tiebreaker positions likely are locked in.
This is the sort of thing fans of terrible teams focus on, and it works best for "Tankathon" when those terrible teams happen to be ones with large followings.
"The Jets or the Bulls or the Lakers being bad is good for business, for sure," Hoover said. "The New York region is 14% of my NFL traffic this season. That’s by far No. 1."
Hoover, who always has run the site by himself, said its inspiration was a knee injury suffered by the Bulls’ Derrick Rose on Nov. 22, 2013, that sidelined the guard for the rest of that season and initially triggered a 3-13 slump.
"I found myself going to the ESPN standings and counting in reverse order where the Bulls were in terms of win percentage to see where they were in the lottery each day," he said.
"I got tired of all the stuff I had to do and the manual counting, so I figured I’d make my own little tool. Then I took that up on a website, and here we are now."
"Tankathon" began with the NBA and now includes the NFL, MLB and NHL. It features mock drafts, prospect analysis and draft lottery calculations — things of particular interest to fans of bad teams.
It is enough for a site Hoover called "a nice supplement" to his income, but not enough to allow him to give up his day job.
"It’s a niche, for sure," he said. "But it’s a need I think people have."
Told that many people who follow the Jets have been following him lately, Hoover said, "I’m glad to help in dark times."