For all intents and purposes I think all-star games in ALL of the sports should stop.
This conversation comes up every year around this time because three of the four major sports in this country all have their respective all-star games in close proximity. This weekend features the NFL's Pro-Bowl and the NHL All-Star game. The NBA hosts their in a few weeks on February 14.
Across the country and on the internet sports radio hosts, bloggers and basically any human sports fan with an opinion is dishing up their hottest take on All-Star games.
In Chicago its become more relevant because the Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews is missing the NHL game due to an illness but because of that league's rules must also sit out a real, meaningful game. Our sister site, Second City Hockey, has wonderful coverage and debate of that very topic.
Then, there is the NFL's own joke of an exhibition game, the Pro-Bowl. Which this year, now features 133 players. Yes, you read that right, 133. That's two starting units and a couple specialists short of THREE regular-season active rosters.
The Pro-Bowl has long been a joke, with little defense (a theme in most sports' ASGs) and an upping of the gimmick ante by the leagues to attempt to trump up interest. The latest ploy has been to elect conference-less teams that are then selected by Hall of Fame players. Because who wouldn't want to know how Jerry Rice would fare as a GM.
With 133 alternates the league is scrapping the bottom of the proverbial barrel to get players actually interested in playing. As my thoughtful colleague Lester always points out, the Pro-Bowl is nothing if a popularity contest with the most recognized players getting votes over the most deserving (see his thought No. 10 here.)
For example, Bears guard-turned-tackle Kyle Long was elected his third consecutive Pro-Bowl and while he improved enough to be considered near-Pro-Bowl level, he would hardly be anyone's unanimous choice. I love Long, but but was he really a top six tackle?
The thing is, other than getting decent TV numbers, there is absolutely no reason for the Pro-Bowl to exist. Obviously the players don't want to go and fans only either hate-watch or because nothing else is on.
I mean do you really want to watch Teddy Bridgewater, who helmed the 31st ranked passing attack in the league?
All-Star games are a relic of a bygone era when people legitimately wondered what would happen if they best players in a league played one another and there were fewer viewing option. Player salaries were also lower (a big factor, in my opinion). Now the best players don't want to participate, the ones who do often don't care so much. There is no more Pete Rose sliding head-first into homeplate. In the Pro-Bowl, the defense can't even blitz!
The athletes in today's game should be asked to risk injury in an exhibition game. The Pro-Bowl should be like the All-Pros: a list, just simply that and just roll it into the NFL Awards banquet thing they do now for the MVP and other awards.
I haven't watched a Pro-Bowl for more than a few minutes in ten years and I am not going to change that this year. Why waste the time when the players themselves can't even bother.
Do you honestly enjoy watching the Pro-Bowl?