As the end of January approaches each year, most major leagues sports leagues find themselves in a bind. Baseball is in its slow period before pitchers and catchers report, the NHL is in the brunt of its schedule before the trade deadline, the NBA’s Christmas Day hype has long gone , and the NFL is simply gearing up for the Super Bowl.
In this absence of quality content, the leagues turn to a classic, seemingly timeless pastime for fans – the All Star game. Despite being a good idea on paper, these games nearly always prove to be slow and boring. Due to its season, MLB holds its All-Star game in the middle of the summer, but that does not take away from the absolute uselessness of these games.
If anything, MLB has had the most recent track record with having useful All-Star games, but it was equally as ridiculous. Up until 2017, baseball’s superstar game decided whether the American League or National League got home-field advantage in the World Series. It gave the game plenty of meaning, but it was, quite simply, an abomination that Game 7 of a championship series was decided by a number of unaligned players dogging it for nine uneventful innings.
Now that the game means nearly nothing, it fits in with the rest of the leagues’ games. In the NHL, NBA and NFL, players on the winning team will receive monetary compensation for the waste of time, but it is mostly pocket change for these star athletes. Most would rather prefer to use the week to rest for the rest of the playoff push rather than playing in a gimmick game.
This year, top NHL goal scorer Alex Ovechkin sat out the All-Star game. The Montreal Canadiens pulled Carey Price out to rest amidst previous injury concerns. The game is simply not worth enough for players to care.
The NHL’s new three-on-three tournament is certainly an upgrade from previous formats, such as the five-on five “fantasy draft” phase, but it is still slow and mostly uneventful. The goalies simply do not try in fear of getting hurt.
The Pro Bowl has become a total sleepwalking venture on the same basis. The 2019 Pro Bowl saw players going at half-speed the entire time and not risking getting hurt. After battling through a grueling, 16-game slate during the year, it is not worth it to get hurt playing in a meaningless game against newfound comrades.
Instead of having the All Star games as a highlight, or even having it at all, the leagues should instead focus on the skills competitions. Fans are much more interested in seeing the players do skills and tricks rather than coasting around for 90 minutes. The behind-the-scenes appeal of the players interacting is also a large draw for content.
The All-Star game is, inherently, entirely baseless and should be replaced solely by the skills competitions. It ultimately provides for much more marketability and enjoyment for fans and players alike.
Kevin Kopf can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @KMKTNF.