Green: All-Star Games not worth the hype (Feb. 17)
Mary Green | Sunday, February 16, 2014
Wait, why have there not been any NBA games on TV for a few days?
Oh, that’s right. Yesterday was the NBA All-Star Game, aka the most boring day in professional sports.
I’m not saying the all-star festivities for the NBA specifically make for the most uninteresting day — rather, all of these games in professional sports combine to create one massive snoozefest.
In theory, all-star games should be great. They bring the best players together on one court or field for a contest with loads of talent and fun. Neither team has a weak spot because each squad features the best its league has to offer.
But that’s never how all-star games turn out because they just do not matter.
In the grand scheme of things, what do the players get out of the game? Sure, their first selections are usually special and another piece of reinforcement that their hard work has paid off.
But besides the selection, they get nothing. They only play a few minutes, when they might throw up a few 3s, maybe get one at bat, push someone into the boards or run a route or two. That’s about it.
What do the fans get? Nearly nothing, as well.
They pay way too much to see a game into which way too little effort is put, just so they can say, ‘I saw LeBron James or Peyton Manning or Derek Jeter or Sidney Crosby compete in person.’
Sure, and one time, I saw Gisele Bündchen pose for a photo for the paparazzi, so let’s call it even.
Take a look at the NBA All-Star Game, where they play less defense than they would in a normal game — which is really saying something for the NBA. On the other end of the court, players put up uncontested shots and throw down unguarded dunks. But what is the thrill of a jam if you cannot posterize anyone?
The NBA tries to make its all-star weekend a little more captivating with the Saturday-night festivities, including the dunk contest. But even that has declined in recent years from the days of Dwight Howard throwing the ball through the hoop while dressed as Superman.
The event is no longer exciting because no noteworthy players are part of it. The dunk contest would be much more worthwhile for viewers if it had at least one player the average fan would want to see. Give me James or Kevin Durant and a few no-names, and I would watch. But give me a handful of NBA B-listers, and I’ll change the channel, if I even tune in at all.
The NHL All-Star Game, quite frankly, is better in years when it does not take place. In those years, the league skips the festivities so its players can use their break to play in the Olympics, as they are doing this year. Competing for a gold medal is much more interesting than competing for — wait, do players even get anything for winning an all-star game?
Hockey tried a new approach with its draft format for team selection, but in reality, the league only created that to add another event to the all-star slate that can be televised and bring in more ad dollars, so its conception certainly was not for the fans’ benefit.
The NFL Pro Bowl is probably the worst of all four leagues’ games because it is held so late in the season that not even the fans really care. Previously, it was played after the season ended, so fans were already done with football after the Super Bowl. Now, it is played the week before the big game, so the players that fans really want to see are not allowed to compete.
For an all-star game to attract interest at all, it needs to be played in the middle of the season and not at the end, when fans are ready to move on to the next sport. But that schedule is not feasible in the middle of the NFL’s 16-game regular season of grueling matchups and too many injuries to count, so an all-star game just would not work in football.
The one exception to this general disinterest in anything all-star related is the MLB’s game because it does everything right that the other leagues do wrong. Mainly, the “Midsummer Classic” has something at stake, as the winning league’s World Series representative earns home-field advantage in October. Plus, its sideshow, the home run derby, features star players competing in the next day’s game, so fans have an interest in watching.
So, forgive me because I watched Olympic ice dancing instead of the NBA All-Star Game, but at least its victors actually won something.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.