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DeFranks: Eliminating those silly, useless all-star games (Jan. 31)

Matthew DeFranks | Monday, January 30, 2012

Imagine if we took the students on the Dean’s list, packed their stuff up, sent them to another city with a college and had them take classes. Sounds reasonable enough, right? Except these classes do not count and their professors do not care.

Welcome to all-star games.

All-star games, where the best players go to escape the harsh reality that they play a sport. Welcome to meaningless exhibitions, where talking heads angrily debate snubs. Welcome to pointless workouts, where nothing is to gain (except baseball, but we’ll get to that later).

If I were the ruler of sports for a week, prepare to say goodbye to all-star games.

The gameplay in all-star games is watered down to say the least. In Sunday’s Pro Bowl, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews intercepted a pass, began his return and lateraled the ball to a teammate, who lateraled it to another teammate, who, you guessed it, tried to pitch the ball again and turned the ball back over to the offense. Please reread that last sentence. I hope the ridiculousness of it successfully conveys the stupidity of all-star games.

Not convinced? That play took place in the first quarter and followed an onside kick.

Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall caught four touchdowns. Saints quarterback Drew Brees attempted a drop kick. The losing team racked up 546 yards. The final score had a combined 100 points in the game. What was the score? Who cares?

I have actually been to a Pro Bowl, and it’s a good thing the tickets were free. The sheer silliness of the game is amplified even more when you are in attendance. In fact, there are exactly four things I remember about that game: someone was wearing a J.P. Losman UFL jersey, I took a picture at the exact moment of kickoff, mascots were on the sideline sitting next to players and there was an incredible wave going around the stadium.

Don’t ask me about the score, the plays, the rosters because I don’t remember any of it. If the players do not care — and clearly, they do not — why should anyone else?

On Sunday, however, the NFL outdid themselves by putting computers on the sidelines so players could tweet between series. I’m so glad Chargers safety Eric Weddle tweeted to let us know he would be tweeting during the Pro Bowl. I sure was pumped when I saw Broncos linebacker Von Miller use seven exclamation points in expressing his excitement to be playing in Hawaii.

Not even creative ploys enacted by the NHL can save the all-star game. The NHL has tried to break up the teams by conference, home continent and, currently, by an old-school backyard draft. In the current format, all-stars are selected and then chosen by a pair of captains until everyone is on one of the two teams. Not even the suspense of seeing the last player picked makes the game exciting. In Sunday’s newest rendition of the contest, the teams combined for 21 goals — in 60 minutes of hockey.

Major League Baseball’s all-star game is the only one that carries meaning, awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning league. But should it?

Since the MLB requires that a player from every team be selected to the all-star team, you are nearly guaranteed the fate of a championship contender will be decided by a member of a last-place team. While baseball’s all-star game is usually competitive, this is too trivial a way to decide something so important.

I understand people like to watch the best players pitted against each other and collect autographs at the events, but to try and pass off all-star games as competitive and important is ludicrous. They are superfluous and just plain silly.

If you want to watch the best players compete against each other, there’s something called the playoffs that sounds right up your alley.

 

 

The views expressed in this Sports Authority column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Matt DeFranks at mdefrank@nd.edu