Wasted talent on a tired concept
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
A few weekends ago, I was surfing the channels when I decided to tune into the NBA all-star game. I don’t know what I was expecting to see, considering I’m not much of a basketball fan to begin with, but I knew I was hoping for at least something. I felt like I was watching baseball. Translation: bored out of my mind.
It’s not just basketball though—it’s all sports. All-star games are the bane of entertainment to any real fan. They’re generally ridiculously high-scoring games; essentially, they’re shootouts with no one even pretending to play defense. There’s no effort whatsoever. It’s so depressing to watch that I think I can safely work in parts of a quote from one of the furthest things from sports: Shakespeare. All-star games are “but a walking shadow” of the real thing, which would make the commentary a “tale told by an idiot…signifying nothing.”
While basketball’s charade is disappointing, there are worse. For example, the NFL’s Pro Bowl. Remove the physicality from a sport that is all about contact and you barely have a glorified flag football game. No one can honestly say that they get a rush from watching an event where even Asante Samuel could make a “tackle.” Similarly, the NHL’s is also a joke. It’s not the alumni part of the Heritage Classic, so hit somebody! Unless the goal of the game is to try and replicate last year’s Penguins-Flyers series, there shouldn’t be a dozen goals for either team.
None of this is to say that sports leagues shouldn’t have all-star weekends though. Skills competitions are fun for both the players and the fans. Hardest slap shot? Love it. Slam dunk competition? Can’t miss it. If the Pro Bowl still had a skills showdown I’d be all over that too. They’re interesting because they’re different. Fans don’t get to see their heroes compete like that every day.
Cutting down all-star weekends to just skills competitions would be beneficial to the fans, the players, and the leagues. The fans would get to see actual entertainment and the players would get an extra day of rest instead of having to go through the motions for a couple of hours. As for the leagues that put on the weekends, why do they think there’s an increasing trend of players passing on the “honour” of being selected to play on all-star teams? Getting rid of the game itself would increase player attendance and overall willingness to participate, and, in doing so, help the leagues’ images by not having to deal with the poor public relations generated by an icon refusing to show up.
It’s not a hard concept. Just separate the wheat from the chaff and you’ve got a solid product. It’s unlikely that leagues will ever do away with them completely, but one can always dream.