Meaningless Game Considering Just as Meaningless Format

Published on 05-Apr-2013 by J Square Humboldt
Football - NFL / NFL Daily Update

Meaningless Game Considering Just as Meaningless Format

So the NFL is coming to the same conclusion the NHL already has.

All-star games suck.

The only reasons to even stage them are non-game related. Players chosen earn bonuses that were written into their contract. Front office personnel and sponsors have awesome parties. Television networks get cheap programing for another couple of hours.

But the games themselves? Meh.

A rink-rat tradition in hockey for choosing teams has long been for players to toss their sticks in a pile at center ice and have two 'captains' pull them from the stack, one-by-one. Two years ago, when the NHL actually had an all-star game, it decided it had tried everything else -- Campbell vs Wales (who cares?), East vs West (who cares?), North America vs the World (really, who cares?) -- and figured it could squeeze a bit of reality-show buzz out of it by having two captains simply pick teams, and then good luck to their striking up a conversation with the next-to-last dude voted by fans as an 'all-star.'

The last pick at least wins a car and gets to designate a charity to receive a $20,000 donation from the NHL and NHLPA.

And then he gets to join the next-to-last dude by putting on a brave face for the rest of the season. At least reality show contestants can revert to being obscure once they've been deemed the last to go.

Now Roger Gooddell wants to thrust this farce of a format on his league.

At least the NHL, like the NBA, has a skill show to provide some entertainment on the weekend. Fortunately, the puckmeisters haven't devolved their events into a carny act like the dunk contest has become, but by and large, these skill nights have significantly overshadowed the all-star game itself.

Baseball sits smugly above it all. Maybe it took an embarrassing tie in 2002 to get Bud Selig thinking, but making the game actually worth something has at least given it cred as a newsworthy event. Yes, it's controversial, but it's working. On top of that, there is still no skill show with a higher and game-relevant profile than the home run derby.

Football is too specialized for a universal skill exhibition, and it's doubtful linemen are going to approve anything like a blocking sled race, so the NFL is stuck with the dog of a game itself. And where the NBA's dog game doesn't have any defense, who really notices? The NHL's dog game is notable for an absence of checking, and fans do notice, which makes it even more of a dog game. The NFL's is worse, as it must implement no-go rules such as blitz bans that makes it even less of the game fans pay to see on every other occasion.

Unless Mel Kiper Jr is going to be on hand to analyze every selection when the two 'captains' choose sides, the Pro Bowl may finally and thankfully be on its last legs. Other than stuffing flags in everyone's waistlines, how much farther can it sink?

Given the fertile and dictatorial mind of Goodell, he's probably on the phone to the American Idol producers right now to find out.

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