If you had the unfortunate “pleasure” of watching either the NFL Pro Bowl or the NHL All-Star game on Sunday, you may have come to the same conclusion we did: All-Star Games are a complete waste of time.Even worse, they are horrible advertisements for the sports they are designed to “showcase.”
Where else could a 55-41 football game be considered a snoozefest? Even the NFL’s own website had to admit as much.
Meanwhile, the NHL All-Star Game has never been known for its for stellar defence, but even the offensive players appeared disinterested yesterday, throwing lazy passes and even lazier shots for most of the first two periods.
So can we finally put a stop to these charades?
There was a time when All-Star Games served a useful purpose. In their heyday, three networks and limited cable exposure (for NHL, NBA, and MLB) meant that you were lucky to get one TV game a week that didn’t involve your local team. The ASG might be your only chance to see some of the game’s biggest stars play live, let alone face off against each other — particularly in baseball when NL and AL teams never met in the regular season
(Football was the one exception to this, which is partly why the Pro Bowl has always been a joke. Up until last year it was played after the season ended. Moving it to the week before the Super Bowl means players from the league’s two best teams can’t participate. Yes, the ratings are great, but just because football fans will watch anything doesn’t mean you should give them nothing.)
Now with ESPN 1, 2, and 3, DirectTV, MLB.TV, season cable passes, and mobile-anywhere-time streaming, almost any game of any season is available to even the most casual fans. The renders the uniqueness of stars playing with and against each other, not that unique.
Inter-league play has made the novelty of NL vs. AL pointless. Baseball’s attempt to make their game “count” only underscored its ridiculousness and exposed its “everyone plays” mentality as foolish.
The “pickup game”-style draft was a neat gimmick for the NHL, but the fact they must resort to such gimmicks does not bode well for the future. (And it doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard to run a odd-man rush with teammates you met in the locker room 30 minutes ago.)
Only the NBA game comes anywhere close to resembling the normal product (only because basketball is more exciting when people don’t play defence), but the All-Star weekend has become a painful parade of silly side games and dance routines.
Fans don’t need All-Pro games anymore. Players may like the free trips and accolades, but they don’t need them either. Thankfully, we have a better solution to an outright ban to these silly exhibition games:
Our solution? The All-All-Star Weekend. The All-Pro teams from all four major sports (go ahead and throw in soccer and MMA while you’re at it) get invited to Hawaii to participate in a Battle Of The Network Stars-style decathlon to determine which sport really has the best athletes.
Flag football. Slow-pitch softball. H-O-R-S-E. Broomball. (On ice, of course.) Mix up the leagues and teams, throw in a tug-of-war, and an obstacle course, and you’ve got yourself the ultimate showcase of athletic talent where nobody gets hurt, everyone has a blast, and no one has to sit through another terrible facsimile of a real sporting event.
The worst thing that happens? 42-0 NFC. So we’re no worse off than we were before.
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