The Good: MLB All-Star Game
While baseball may not be the most exciting All-Star Game, it is certainly the most competitive. The MLB makes the game matter by giving the winner home field advantage in the World Series. This motion was passed in the 2003 season in an effort to make sure their is no sloppy play and that the game remains competitive. Baseball’s All-Star weekends used to be one of the most exciting All-Star weekends of all sports. Especially during the Home Run (steroid) era. The Home Run Derby was very exciting seeing players like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey, & Barry Bonds hit homers out of the park. The games were intense because they were filled with marquee superstars at the time and almost anyone can hit the ball out of the park. Baseball was more about hitting then than what it is now. The popularity for baseball has fallen off as of late with less marquee guys to follow. Mostly because baseball has become a pitchers game where we have more “no hitters” and “complete games“. Real baseball fans appreciate good pitchers but the majority of the population may get bored after the 5th inning if no one is hitting the ball. Really the only marquee hitters I can think of today would be Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Ryan Howard, David “Big Papi” Ortiz, and Prince Fielder. However, these guys still don’t compare to the guys in the past.
The Home Run Derby now includes an American League team of four and a National League team of four to embrace competition of the two divisions. Also, the MLB is in high effort to resurrect the popularity of the sport by incorporating social media. I wrote an article on another blog that I am contributing to called Sport Techie that talks about the MLB’s effort using social media to boost up the All-Star Weekend. In all, the game has the most realistic feel of a game and remains very polished despite the pitching prowess in today’s era.
The Bad: NBA All-Star Game
The NBA All-Star weekend is like a series of highlight reels. It may be the most entertaining of all the All-Star weekends, but it lacks competitiveness which is why I call it “The Bad”. The players usually give a lazy effort of defense and just allow the other players to literally have a dunk contest during the game. It is great showmanship for the fans watching, but not realistic at all. I mean the final score is using something like 165 to 153, which would never happen in a regular season game. The weekend has more events than any other All-Star weekend, which is a plus for the fans. There is a 3-point contests, a PG skills drill, a Rising Stars game composed of rookies and sophomores, and a shooting stars challenge composed of current, past, and WNBA stars. Their celebrity game is even entertaining to watch. What is going bad for the NBA All-Star events is the dunk contest, which used to be the most popular but has really fallen off. The contest once was filled with the marquee dunkers going against one another showing their amazing ability and amazing dunks. Who can’t remember Michael Jordan vs. Dominique Wilkins, or Dr. J’s amazing dunks, or even Vince Carter for that matter? That’s the way it should be but the excitement around the dunk contest is far from it. Now the contest if filled with young no name players that show generic dunks and low flash. And if a marquee guy decides to dunk, they are basically handed the trophy because they have no competition against them.
In order to fix this, the NBA need to give the fans what they want, which is marquee guys like Lebron James and Blake Griffin facing off against one another in the Dunk Contest. Also, maybe include some kind of incentive for the game to make the players give some effort on defense during the game. Young players who tune into the All-Star game see bad and flashy basketball that sometimes carry over to their own play. Basketball is not all about dunks! The game and weekend is still entertaining, but it is not as exciting as the past. The players just need to give more of an effort to increase the play and make it more of a real game (competitive throughout).
The Ugly: NFL Pro Bowl
The NFL Pro Bowl is the most embarrassing All-Star game of them all. First of all, I believe it is hard to generate a good football All-Star game period. Football is such a physical sport it is hard duplicate the intensity when you have a bunch of All-Stars playing with no desire. Second, you cannot play football lazy or you will get hurt, and its not fun to watch. In football, you have to go full speed every play or you are likely to be blind sided or injured. Third, football is more about strategy than any other sport. Therefore, it takes time to develop a game plan for attacking your opposition and the Pro Bowl provides no time for strategy, thus you have a very sloppy game. For a game highly touted for big hits, you will rarely see that in the Pro Bowl. In fact, it is more about the offense throwing bombs and juking people than anything else now. It is an embarrassing showcase of what football is all about, which is high intensity. It’s like watching a Madden game on Rookie live; no defense what so ever and no more than 3 play drives for scores. The final scores to these games are like a basketball score which rarely ever happens in football.
This showcase ruins what football stands for and shows the youth an embarrassing brand of football. It is really not the players fault however, because they just show up and try not to get hurt. So they would rather enjoy the sun in Hawaii than play a game. I think it would be better to watch Flag football than the Pro Bowl! Commissioner Roger Goodell has stressed his dislike for the Pro Bowl the past couple of years and is on the verge of canceling the event. I believe there should not be a Pro Bowl. They should just allow the fans to vote on which players they believe deserve to be an All-Star and then reward them. They can still send them to Hawaii for vacation, but just not have a game since they really don’t show up to play anyway.
In all, All-Star games are meant to be for the fans! Whether it is lazy or not, the fans watch these games to see a show! I believe the fans expect the games to be more flashy and that’s why we continue to watch. We know that these players do deserve a break in the season and should have fun during the events. However, the only thing we ask is that you at least make it a competitive atmosphere. Every All-Star game has room for improvement in that department. The high school and collegiate All-Star games are more competitive than the pros! Partly because those players are trying to impress the scouts, but they still don’t get as much recognition as the pros and their lazy efforts. Sports are all about competing, and if you don’t have that then everyone minus well be on the same team.