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Friday, January 28, 2011

All Star Weekend for NFL and NHL

It's All Star weekend!  The NFL and the NHL are having their All Star celebrations this weekend and for such a similar event, these two organizations could not approach it any differently.  Despite a generally poor reception by NFL fans, due to the sloppy play and poor effort, the Pro Bowl hasn't changed anything in the last few decades.  Meanwhile, the NHL has tweaked their All Star game format almost every year.  As discussed previously here, the NHL will be holding a playground style choose 'em up tonight and it's generated a ton of buzz.

While I don't doubt that the Pro Bowl game will get higher ratings and generally be far more profitable for the League than the NHL's version, I think the NFL might be smart to look at innovating their All Star weekend.  The NHL has done things like play the two conferences against one another, they've played North America vs. the World and when niether of those worked they did what was maybe the most obvious yet often overlooked thing by letting 2 Captains choose their teams playground style.  For a league that has been struggling over the past decade, finding new ways to attract even the most casual fans is essential.  Hopefully this game sparks some interest in those marginal fans and will inspire them to keep an eye on the League through the rest of the season.

The NFL on the other hand has had enormous success and yet they have a horribly boring All Star game.  It's a meaningless game played by guys who are really only trying not to get hurt.  What makes Football such an exciting game is the passion and intensity of that it must be played with to succeed but when the players don't really care about winning the game is incredibly boring.  It could even be argued that players are disincentivized to play well during the game.  Imagine that you are the New England Patriots Matt Light and your lined up at Left Tackle next to fellow New England Patriot Logan Mankins during the game on Sunday.  What is to stop you from "accidentally" missing your block on DeMarcus Ware so he can go untouched on his way to destroying your sworn AFC enemy Peyton Manning?  Yes I realize that it probably won't happen that way, (Ware won't be trying hard because he probably cares even less than the Pats O-Linemen) but it's possible right?  My point is that clearly something has to change here.

Options to amend the Pro-Bowl
  • Captains draft teams - How much fun would it be to watch Mike Vick and Philip Rivers choose their teams player by player?  What are the odds that Rivers chooses either Calvin Johnson or Andre Johnson first overall, 100% or 110%?
  • Coaches draft teams - Similar to the players drafting but watching Mike Smith and Bill Bellichick pick teams would be incredibly interesting just to see who around the league they value greater and even what positions they find most crucial.  Bellichick would absolutely pick Matt Ryan first overall if he had the chance.  What a jerk.  
  • Scrap the game and just have skills competitions -   There could be a Dunk competition, a 40 yard dash, a Cross-Fit workout competition, Sumo wrestling, American Gladiator style events, even the standard skills challenges we see for College and High School players these days.  Hold one event per position group and the winner of which would get a substantial monetary award and earn a point for their squad.  The team with the most points at the end wins and they share some monetary award.
  • Allow fans to vote on crucial plays -  Maybe for every 3rd down in the 2nd Quarter, fans can go online have vote on one of 4 play options in instant polls which the team would then have to run. That might not be the best execution of this but you get my point.  We have to have this technology by now too.
  • Play East vs. West - This could be based on College or Hometown but it would be a slightly more interesting way to divvy up the teams.

Well that's about all that I can think of.  Put whatever ideas you have in the comments, I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys can come up with.

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Greg said...

Yea the Pro Bowl definitely needs some revisions. NFL easily has the best season of all the sports but perhaps the worst "all-star" game. The problem is the game is so violent and dangerous that it's tough to get players to play hard. I think a skills competition would be cool. I used to like the QB challenge growing up. You could have different ones for each position. Obstacle course, etc.. As for the game it's tough. It won't happen but I think it'd be cool if they had a tourney style day with each team broken up by college conferences somehow. I dunno, tough question.

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