To this day, the MLB All Star Weekend remains the best over any other league in North America.
Now that the hot takes are out of the way, here is what the NFL can do to improve it’s own all-star festivities. Despite high ratings for the Pro Bowl, which would shatter many regular season baseball games, the Pro Bowl has received, by far, the most complaints of any all-star game throughout the four major sports.
From lack of effort to completely unnecessary, the Pro Bowl receives a lot of flack for trying to put on an entertaining show for the fans.
The problem with the NFL’s all-star festivities starts with the timing of the game. The Pro Bowl is played right before the Super Bowl, while the NHL, MLB & NBA all play their all-star games at mid-season. Every all-star game is meaningless and feature exhibitions, however, the leagues that play their game at mid-season seem to be more beloved than the lackluster Pro Bowl.
The Pro Bowl is a showcase of offensive talent and sometimes it is played at half speed with no real contact or big hits. It is basically a bag of tricks rolled out to please the fans. That only goes so far.
There needs to be some incentive for the Pro Bowl. Take this for instance: an overall pot that goes to the winning team. Let’s say one million dollars will do the trick and it will be split up between the players of the winning team while the losing conference gets nothing. Zero.
The game should feature a running 15 minute clock each quarter only being stopped for changeovers and timeouts. The tedious tendency of the Pro Bowl can be reduced in this manner. It will give the players on the field the motivation to play just a bit harder to force that turnover on downs or take a chance and go for a touchdown on fourth down just a few yards from the end zone.
The modified rules can stay in place to avoid injuries, but for heaven’s sake, this is football. There is supposed to be a few hard hits in this game.
Still not convinced? All right, let us go beyond the game itself.
The skills contest was a welcome addition this season but it seemed farcical. I mean, catching footballs dropped from a drone was a little cheesy.
The MLB prides itself on the Home Run Derby and since the format switched to a bracket style challenge, viewership has increased and the amount of time it takes to be completed has decreased.
How about that approach to an NFL style derby? Say a kicking derby. Most field goals in “x” amount of minutes and give bonus time to any kick over 55 yards down the very middle of the crossbars.
NFL kickers are deadly accurate now, so give a little love to specialists and really showcase their abilities.
Finally the location has been a blessing and a complaint. Sure the players would love to go to Hawaii every year, but that is a really expensive trip for the fans, the time change is five hours behind the east coast and Aloha Stadium is never packed.
The NFL has experimented with Orlando and Arizona in recent seasons but like the MLB, the NFL should be changing the location every year to bring it to every city and fanbase it possibly can.
February is obviously in the heart of winter, to the NFL is limited to warm locations or domes. But hey, the west coast has plenty of options and look no further than stadiums in the south. There are other places that can be paradise.
Americans consume football every single day of the year so why not give them a better display the leagues best? This is the All-Star Weekend the NFL deserves.
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