Trading carrots for chocolate pudding since 2012
It was announced a few weeks ago that the Pro Bowl, which NFL officials threatened to suspend, will be played as usual this upcoming season.
Big. Fucking. Deal.
I know the fans in attendance didn’t think much of it, as they cascaded boos down on the players throughout the game. In case you missed it, it seemed the only player who gave a damn was Miami receiver Brandon Marshall, who had 176 yards and scored a Pro Bowl-record four touchdowns for the AFC in a 59-41 victory over the NFC. The worst part about it all is that TV By The Numbers reports that it was the second-most watched Pro Bowl in more than 10 years! The fans deserve better.
There are several problems with the Pro Bowl. Hell, there are issues with all of the all-star events in America’s major leagues. I’ll go down the line and offer my take on solutions.
NFL Pro Bowl
Big problem(s): Super Bowl players aren’t eligible. Defenses can’t blitz. Most players don’t seem to care.
Solution(s): Move game back to the week after the Super Bowl so that those guys can play in it. Let the defenses play, this ain’t powder puff! Make the winners’ share a larger percentage. Currently, winners get double what losers get (in 2010, the AFC got $45,000, the NFC $22,500). Make that cut 80%-20% rather than 66.7%-33.3% and you may see players get at it a little harder.
MLB All-Star Game
Big problem(s): Winner gets home-field advantage in the World Series. Some guys get snubbed because every team must be represented.
Solution(s): Kill the World Series rule — this is a freakin’ exhibition event! It’s supposed to be fun. You think some dude on this year’s Cubs or Twins gives a shit if their league wins? Ain’t like they’re going to the Fall Classic. Also, kill the participation rule. If you play for a crappy team, unless your numbers truly merit consideration, you can watch at home with the rest of us common folk!
NBA All-Star Game
Big problem(s): Fans have full say on starters (and NBA fans seem to be idiots). Stars don’t participate in the dunk contest.
Solution(s): Give fans only a partial percentage of the vote for starters, like the NFL does. Remember: Fans voted Kobe Bryant in as a starter in 1998, a year he wasn’t even starting for the Lakers! Also, because the world gets a say, Yao Ming was a starter damn near every year of his career because China stuffed the ballots — this during the days when Shaq was the dominant big man in the league. As for the dunk contest, the league needs to force at least two “superstars” to compete. Hell, if David Stern can fix the lottery or make it so that the Lakers beat the Kings, he can do this.
NHL All-Star Game
Big problem(s): They keep changing the format.
Solution(s): I admit that I like the fantasy draft idea they’ve used the past two years. If they want to stick to that, cool. But don’t keep altering the format. For most years, it was West vs. East (or Campbell vs. Wales, which is the same thing). They also did North American stars vs. world stars for a few years recently. I’m all for innovation, but, please, pick a format and stick with it already!
MLS All-Star Game
Big problem(s): Like the NHL, there has been a lack of consistency.
Solution(s): Since 2005, the game has been the MLS’s best against a foreign team. If the MLS is insistent on having its stars play against the best in the world, taking the pitch against teams like Chivas Guadalajara and lower-rung English Premier League squads Fulham and Everton isn’t the answer. Instead, ask stars across the world to unite and play each year. The point is to put on a show for the fans. We know the MLS stars should get killed by the world’s best 99 times out of 100, but the possibility of that one time would get asses in the seats, assuming the star power isn’t enough. I’d pay to see MLS stars face Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney, Drogba, Kaka, etc.
There you have it, sports fans. I’m sure all of you have some ideas as well, maybe ones worlds better than what I’ve come up with. These games are supposed to be for us, right? Maybe it’s time we let our voices be heard.