BY ALEX SMITH
As I sit here writing this column, it is Sunday afternoon, Jan. 27. I’m feeling pretty excited, in fact, I feel almost giddy. You may ask, “Hey Alex, what is making you feel that way?” Well, friend, the answer is simple: The greatest event in professional sports is about to take place in just a few hours. I am of course talking about the NFL’s All-Star Game, The Pro Bowl. In fact, I called up Planet Wings yesterday to put in my order for tonight in anticipation of long waiting times because so many people need food for the big game.
If you’ve gotten this far and still think I’m being serious, it’s time to re-evaluate. I hate the Pro Bowl and so should you.
Every professional sport has an All-Star Game. Hell, even every little league sport has an All-Star Game. Five-year-old me was an All-Star on a soccer team at an age when everyone on the field runs after the ball at once. At the age of 10, I made the All-Star Game in Little League baseball. I played three innings and got a ticket for a free can of soda and a hot dog. Both of those games were astronomically more entertaining than the Pro Bowl.
Here’s the problem. The nature of the sport of football makes most exhibition games unwatchable. Football is about tackling and hard blocks and the battle in the trenches. I don’t have the official numbers in front of me, but I think it’s fair to say that football has the most injuries of any of the big four pro sports. At the Pro Bowl, there’s basically no hitting. They might as well make it two-hand touch or give players little yellow and red flags to wear. Players don’t want to play in the Pro-Bowl because they don’t want to risk blowing out their knee and risking their career in a game that means absolutely nothing.
The NFL plays the game in Hawaii to try to entice players to come and bring their families and have a good time, but that doesn’t even seem to be working. Every year we see countless situations in which perfectly healthy players decided to not play in the game.
That’s a problem in itself, because now the All-Star game isn’t even featuring the best players in the game. Instead of each roster having the three best quarterbacks from each conference, you get the three quarterbacks who have nothing better to do on the weekend before the Super Bowl.
The other sports do All-Star Games right because they don’t have as much contact. Baseball and basketball exhibition games are fun to watch because: a) the MLB game decides home field in the World Series and b) the NBA game puts its stars on display in a high-scoring dunkfest that people want to see. I will admit that the NHL All-Star game is pretty sad, too, for the same reasons as football.
Bottom line: Get rid of the Pro-Bowl. No players want to go, no fans want to watch. Name players “All-Pro” to reward them for their great years. The title means much more than the game does.