Saturday, February 4, 2012

All-Star Games - Are They A Good Thing?

The NFL Pro Bowl was last week and it caught flack for lacking any effort by the players.  One person complaining was NFC Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rogers who also took a shot at his teammates for lackluster play.  All-star games have long been looked at as either fun, a waste of time or somewhere in between.  Fans enjoy seeing the big stars while players either enjoy the pageantry or dislike having to play an extra game.  The different leagues do theirs somewhat different in an effort to entertain their fans.  I've always enjoyed them myself and here I'll look at some of the pros and cons as I see them in the big 4 (football, baseball, basketball, hockey) sports. 

I think baseball is the best of the four by pure nature of the sport.  The pitcher versus batter scenario works great as we get to see matchups that we might not get to see otherwise.  Interleague play may have lessened this to some extent but it is still great to see the great pitchers and batters go against each other.  Baseball's all-star game comes midway through the season and includes the homerun contest.  I can take or leave the homerun contest but the game is my favorite all-star game. 

The NBA also holds it's game midway through the season.  Some will complain about the lack of defense but I think this is what makes it great.  Who doesn't like street ball?  You really get to see the one on one skills of players.  Yes it doesn't resemble a real game but it does showcase the NBA's talent.  The NBA has skills contests that have been different throughout the years but are usually entertaining.  The three point contest was always a favorite of mine as it showcase's true skill.  The slam dunk contest has gotten somewhat tiring over the years and sometimes lacks the big name players but it can still be entertaining.  The 3-on-3 contest employing everyone from past greats, current players, pop culture stars and even WNBA players can also be enjoyable.  Overall I think the NBA does well in putting on a good show. 

I'm a very casual follower of the NHL but I do enjoy their all-star show.  The skills contest is fun.  These guys have skills I think match those of any other sport.  They've gone to a system of late where two players pick the two different rosters from the pool of players picked to participate.  Not saying this is a homerun but I definitely give them points for creativity.  Again a nice showcase for the sport.

Now the NFL.  Their game was held after the Super Bowl until two years ago and is now held between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.  No matter when it is played it still suffers from a lack of enthusasm by the players.  Many feign injury to avoid going.  While some enjoy the trip to Hawaii they haven't put much effort into the game for some time now.  I do remember when the games were competitive and very enjoyable to watch.  What little I saw of last Sunday's game looked nothing like those.  I have no great answers to the problem.  In a sport that is very physical and injuries common I can understand players being leary of going all out.  Still the NFL needs to figure something out.  As is the game is a farce. 

I always enjoy seeing all the great players in one place.  It is even better when they get a chance to display the great skills that make them special.  There are also those plays or moments that you'll never forget.  John Kruk hitting against Randy Johnson in the 1993 all-star game stands out.  Not everyone is into these games but I for one enjoy watching them and hope the NFL can rescue their showcase game. 

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