Sunday, January 27, 2013

The most forgettable football game

Lost in the Super Bowl and Twitter girlfriend coverage, this weekend is the NFL all-star game, the “Pro Bowl.” Every sport has an all-star game, and all struggle to draw fan interest and use gimmicks: baseball has it decide who has homefield advantage for the World Series, the NBA gets more interest in the Slam Dunk contest than the game, the NHL doesn’t play defense in their game so you see more goals that five normal games. Despite being most popular league, the NFL’s game is the worst. Due to the violent nature of football the Pro Bowl is after the season (all others are midseason). It used to be after the Super Bowl, but now it is before so the best players from the best teams are not there. They have tried moving to the city of the Super Bowl, but it has now returned to its traditional Hawaii.

If you are interested in sports history you should tune it as it may very well be the last. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has admitted he almost cancelled it after last year. Ironically it was the union that urged its continuation, but it remains a game that no one cares about. Now making the game is a big deal, bigger than making the more exclusive All-Pro team. ESPN has a special to announce the team, the NFL releases the names of the starters later, many players get contractual bonuses if they make the Pro Bowl, and making many Pro Bowls is a sort of unofficial prerequisite to make the Hall of Fame after retirement (aging formerly great players often make the game after their skills have declined because of their reputations). That is the last time anyone cares, many players claim injury and back out of the game and some – let’s say “slightly above average” – players end up in the game.

The League, the Union, and an army of commentators have discussed improving the game, but none have impressed anyone. It is hard to put a finger on exactly why the game is so terrible. While it is just an exhibition game that has no meaning fans should in theory watch games because they love the game (that is the argument for College Bowl games) and while there are some rule changes to avoid injury the game does not look that different to a casual fan. Outside of a five-year-old’s t-ball game it is the least passionate sporting even in the United States.

Buy hey – enjoy!


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