With the NHL All Star Game and the NFL Pro-Bowl being on this weekend, I thought maybe it’s a good idea to say how much of a waste of time both games really are. I mean, seriously. What’s the point?
Okay, All Star games aren’t completely pointless. The NBA All Star game is mostly enjoyable. Partly because the players’ unflinching disregard for the rules becomes acceptable, if not, completely encouraged. LeBron will take 3 steps to dunk a ball during a regular season game, whereas during the All Star game he gets 5. Double-dribbling is fine as long as Chris Paul can connect on a sweet behind the back alley-oop pass to teammate Blake Griffin who hangs on the rim 10 seconds too long. But that’s okay…cause it’s the All Star game, see.
The MLB All Star game doesn’t really lose any of it’s appeal. It plays just like a regular season game, just with a dream lineup and pitching staff. You can’t really argue it’s a slower game or less physical game because baseball isn’t that type of sport.
But when it comes to the sports that rely heavily on physicality, the mid-season exhibition games because snooze-worthy affairs.
I don’t remember the last time I watched the Pro-Bowl. There’s enough talk about how the game is worthless, and it’s just a waste of everyone’s time. The players aren’t interested, the media aren’t interested, and the fans sure don’t give a shit. The game is played at a much slower speed, and the physicality is non-existent. Of course, I understand why that’s the case — they want to prevent anyone from getting injured during a meaningless game. But it takes away a vital aspect and one of the best parts of the sport.
The NHL All Star game has the same problem. Sure, the players are skating faster than either you or I could, but it’s a noticeably much slower pace than a regular season game. And there is no hitting/checking allowed. None. It’s nice to be dazzled here and there with some saucer passes from one of the Sedins or being able to watch Pavel Datsyuk dangle his way through defenders. But that kind of stuff is even more exciting when the game actually matters, and it happens all the time during regular season games. There are highlights every night of the things hockey players pull off night-in night-out.
If there’s one thing that’s truly enjoyable about NHL All Star weekend it’s all the stuff leading up to the actual game. The All Star Fantasy Draft is one of the greatest gimmicks a professional sports league has ever come up with…and it’s fantastic. I love how it gets cliquey. Teammates draft teammates, friends coerce team captains to draft one of their friends, and Phil Kessel only gets drafted because his teammate Joffrey Lupul was an assistant captain. I’d put good money down that he would have been the last pick AGAIN if that were not the case.
As much as I enjoy the format of the draft, there is one slight adjustment I’d make to the rules: team captains cannot draft their own teammates in the first 3 rounds. It kind of kills it when Daniel Alfredsson drafts all Ottawa Senators on his team making the draft somewhat predictable, which is what should be avoided at all costs. I want more of something like what Chara did to Tyler Seguin, with it concluding in an all-too-friendly “hug it out” kodak moment at the end. Good stuff.
The skills competition is something to behold, as well. You truly appreciate the talent of these players after watching the different skills on display. Also, everyone seems to think the showboats are all in the NBA. Patrick Kane proves everyone wrong.
When it comes to the NFL, I’m positive I can’t be the first person to say they should just get rid of the Pro-Bowl entirely. And I’m not sure if anyone has come up with this alternative, but I’m going to propose it anyways as if I’m the originator of this concept: In place of a game, they should have their own skills competition.
Something similar to the Combine, but it’s different because instead of using potential college draftees, we get to see actual professional NFL football players competing. I’m talking about seeing who can throw the furthest ball, who has the fastest 40 time, who has the highest vertical, etc. All of the things they test for in the combine, they should apply that to a sort of skills competition for NFL players. And to add to the drama, split it up by conference, and apply a point system to whoever wins what competition. Hell, they can even institute some sort of bizarre relay if they wanted to prove the team aspect of it all. Oh and make sure to have some players mic’d up.*
*I’d like to nominate Wes Welker for this role. He’s a pretty funny dude. If his trash talk on the field is anything like his Twitter feed, then we’re in for a treat ladies and gentleman.
This skills competition accomplishes a couple of things:
1) The players don’t have to play a meaningless game, and they don’t have to worry about the injury factor (as much).
2) This gives fans some great water cooler discussion. They can talk about who they think will throw the furthest ball, get into arguments about why or why not said player will do it, adamantly stating that they’re so sure said player will beat the other player in the competition with the conversation eventually ending up in an outrageous bet where the friendship becomes ultimately doomed. Business in Vegas will be booming.
3) The media can use this end-of-the-year competition to start random arguments that they love to do i.e. “Tony Gonzales, will have a great season. He won last year’s highest vertical in the skills competition, so he’s bound to have an MVP-type year.” You laugh, but there have been some crazier stories written. It’s completely flawed logic, but it’s a nice start. Also, if they end up splitting them by conference, while it probably has no bearing whatsoever on which conference is better than the other, it will provide nice fodder for days when it’s a slow news day. Can you imagine, “Since the AFC won the skills competition, they’re clearly the better conference going into next season.” There is bound to be a stupid story like that, and it would be entertaining to see how that writer would try to back it up.
I don’t know about you, but I would LOVE to see something like this. It’d be interesting to see who’s faster, Darren McFadden or Adrian Peterson? Peterson or Chris Johnson? I know who I think it is, and I’m sure you know who you think it is, and this is exactly why this type of format will work as an end-of-season celebration so-to-speak for the players. It’d be a nice treat for the fans, as well.
The NHL is at the very least trying to make an attempt at spicing up the All Star weekend festivities, and I think they’re doing the best they can, while the NFL just seems content with everyone saying the Pro-Bowl is lame.
Lame it is indeed. But if you want to take my idea, Commissioner Goodell, please, feel free to contact me. I’d love to talk about it with you more. I think it will really help.
And if not, well then…it’s probably not my idea anyway.