If an All-star game is great, but no one is watching, what the hell? Skill competitions are awesome, but it hasn’t meant viewers for the NHL. Can All-star games be saved? Do fans even care?
Replacing the Pro Bowl with a set of skills competitions a la what the NHL already does is the smart move. Do away with the game; it’s pointless. Little known fact: Andy Dalton made the Pro Bowl this season as something like a fifth-alternate. Little known follow-up: Andy Dalton is a mediocre quarterback at best.
If the game isn’t even getting the league’s best players, and the players that DO show up don’t try, why play? When you first mentioned a tug-o-war though, the first thing I thought of was, what if someone gets hurt?! I don’t have any idea why, in my mind, playing tug-o-war is more dangerous than playing a real-life football game, but that’s where I went.
If the NFLPA can agree to “subject” its players to athletic competitions instead of a game, and live with the consequences if someone does get hurt at some point, this is a go.
Tweaking the MLB All-Star game into a set of mini-games is intriguing and fun, but it seems a little unnecessary. Baseball doesn’t have the same problem as the other sports where trying hard is detrimental. Maybe guys won’t run out infield dribblers or make diving catches in the outfield, but pitching is pitching and hitting is hitting. No one is going up to the plate giving up an at-bat.
Therefore, MLB either needs to make this game legit-count or make it worth nothing at all. The former means doing away with fan voting and needing one player from each franchise and the inclination to play everyone and the weird format where the best players play the beginning instead of the end. Do away with all of it and have the leagues actually playing to win and secure home field in the World Series.
Or, go the other way and make it an exhibition like it should be, and then I love the three-game mini-series idea.
We’re going to go into more detail on the NBA All-Star weekend next week since the actual competition is February 13-15. Put a pin in this.
As for the NHL, boy, hockey can’t catch a break! It does everything right and no one cares. Fantasy draft: check. Skills competitions: check. Game with all the sport’s biggest stars: kind of check considering the league penalizes players if they miss the All-Star game without missing regular-season time beforehand.
This happened to Sidney Crosby this month. He sat out the game because of an injury, but because the injury didn’t force him to miss any real games, he was suspended for one game following the break. The NHL wants its stars playing, as it should.
But even still, the ratings in CANADA were down! It’s hard to believe. Everyone knows the NHL stars in Canada; you can’t use the unpopular excuse for that. And the league is teeming with young stars. I don’t quite know what the issue is other than there are more enticing hockey events the rest of the year so the All-Star game has lost its luster.
With the Stadium Series games, the Winter Classic, the hockey World Cup and Winter Olympics, the best of the best come together for “special” events seemingly every year. Hell, they don’t even hold the All-Star game every year because of the international tournaments. So why get all worked up over it?
I find it amusing that you say the NHL has done “everything right” when it failed to find an audience. We agree the league’s ideas are solid. Its players are top-notch and the competition has never been better. But sports are a television product and must make money. Without an actual audience, how can they be doing anything right?
If the ratings in Canada are down for the NHL, couldn’t I argue that they’ve done nothing right? That whatever good ideas they’ve had, no one cares and something much bigger and more drastic needs to be done in order to save the NHL and its floundering popularity.
No matter what the NHL does, or doesn’t do, the television audience has not grown. Only the NFL and NBA are truly growing at an admirable rate. Baseball seems to be doing fine, but it’s not yet a model for anyone. If this is truly for the fans, then give them what they actually want!
What do the fans want, you ask? They want to see the star players on display. They want to see them on the field together. And as you casually noted, they don’t want any injuries. None of this adds up to All-star game success, in the traditional sense. Enter the NBA and our upcoming debate. They’ve created an All-star weekend, a fan destination that can make money, regardless of how many fans tune in on television.
Photo credits: cbssports.com and thehobokenjournal.blogspot.com