Remember when All-Star games used to mean something? No? Me neither, sadly.
In the age of big endorsements and contracts, no All-Star game is a true contest of the best against the best, as more and more All-Star games become the “some-stars” games as some athletes opt out while those who compete really have no incentive to go all out.
One league tried to change that but they’re efforts take away from the meaning of the regular season.
In Major League Baseball (MLB), they have tried to increase the intensity of their game by awarding home-field advantage to the league that wins the mid-summer classic.
Now, that sounds good in theory, but what happens when an American League (AL) Wild Card team with 80-85 wins gets hot in the postseason and gets home field advantage over a 100-105 win Division Champion in the National League (NL)? Fans of that NL team would be up in arms and cry out that their team was by far and away a better regular season team and earned the right to enjoy the home-field advantage.
Why should the All-Star game, which may have had as few as one representative of the eventual World Series team from their league, decide the fate of the rest of their league’s teams? Lets face it, about 95 percent of the players in the All-Star game won’t play in the World Series, but they get to decide one of the most important factors of it.
Anyone else here thinking that doesn’t sound right?
Most people can probably agree that most of the other three All-Star games are flawed for their own various reasons, some of which are shared amongst the different league showcases.
How about the National Football League (NFL) and it’s ever popular Pro-Bowl. This game may be the biggest joke of all in the fact that all the players hope to make the roster, but half won’t even show for the game. Two reasons that cause this are simple.
The first is that because the Pro Bowl takes place the week before the Super Bowl, none of the players from the opposing Super Bowl teams is allowed to play in the game to avoid injury. The second reason is that more and more players opt out of the game for any and all reasons you can imagine. The main of which is that they just got done with a long regular season and that they are ready to just be done with the game for a while.
Who needs one more week of practice for a game that is an all out offensive showcase in which defensive stars turn into bystanders on the field? It may just be me but I don’t want to see personal favorites like Ed Reed or DeMarcus Ware turn into Charmin soft players who might as well be playing two-hand touch instead of annihilating opposing offensive players.
Turn the focus now to the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) and their respective All-Star festivities. Both leagues capitalize on really gearing their whole All-Star weekends towards the fan and making it interactive.
The NHL lets fans vote the first six players into the game and then the league will add the 36 other representatives. From there, the All-Stars will pick two captains from the 42 total players and it turns into the good ol’ fashioned schoolyard style where the captains pick their teams. Very intriguing for fans to see the players themselves pick their teams for the game themselves.
The NBA and NHL both also have great skills competitions that are chalked full of highlight reel material. The NFL has one but you really never hear anything about it and the MLB only has the Home Run derby, which seems to lose more and more steam each year.
NBA and NHL All-Star games, themselves, put defense aside and are all out offensive slugfests. To a true fan, this can be amusing to and extent but is not at all close to anything real. No one truly plays the game with any true effort because they cannot afford to get hurt or they lose out on a) money from their contract possibly, and b) the chance to play for their teams.
Yes, those reasons were put in that order for a reason.
The simple truth is All-Star games can be fun and give us something to chat about with fellow fans at work or school the next day, but to real sports fans, they’re simply exhibition games keeping us from the games that truly matter.
Hate them or love them, but they just don’t make them like they used t0