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Sports Authority

Ivey: Take fans’ say out of all-star votes

| Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fan voting has always been a thing in sports. Whether it’s voting who will be on the cover of EA Sports Madden or NHL video games, or voting on who will participate in the NBA, MLB, or NHL All-Star Games, fans have the ability to vote for what they want to see a particular sports league do.

However, with the continuing rise of social media and other technology, it might be time for sports leagues to rethink that policy.

Back in November, the National Hockey League decided to change its traditional All-Star Game format. Instead of a single game filled with two teams consisting of all-star players the fans vote for, the league announced that this year’s All-Star Game will consist of three 20-minute mini games that will follow the 3-on-3 overtime format the league recently implemented. There will be four teams that will represent each division in the NHL. The National Hockey League staff and associates vote on who will play for their division’s team while the fans get to vote on who will captain those teams.

The change in format was a direct effort to minimize the fans’ impact on which players get selected into the All-Star Game. The change came after fan voting for last year’s All-Star Game voting put five Chicago Blackhawks and Buffalo Sabres player Zemgus Girgensons into the All-Star Game. Girgensons was voted in only because he is one of a few Latvian players in the NHL and many people in Latvia voted for him.

Last week, the NHL All-Star Game rosters were announced, and while most of the names on the rosters were reasonable selections, two of the four captains the fans selected showed why fans shouldn’t vote for who plays in an All-Star Game. Three captains, Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers, were good selections, but the last captain is John Scott of the Arizona Coyotes.

After a campaign by the fans to get him in, Scott ended up with the most all-star votes of any player. Scott only has one point in 11 games played this year with the Coyotes and has scored only five goals his entire career. Known as a fighter and not a scorer, Scott has spent some time in the minors this year. The reason why the NHL switched the All-Star Game to the 3-on-3 format is to increase scoring, and Scott will hardly be able to help with that. The Scott situation has been compared to the situation with Zemgus Girgensons last year.

The NHL isn’t the only League with a fan voting problem. Last year during fan voting for the MLB All-Star Game, the league had to cancel out at least 65 million ballots when the top vote-getters for eight of the nine starting positions for the American League were all Kansas City Royals players, even though most of them didn’t deserve to be voted into the All-Star Game.

As long as fans have the ability to vote for who gets selected into the All-Star Game, situations like this will continue to happen, and if the last couple of years are any indication, the number will continue to rise. The fans that do this think it’s funny to put a non-traditional player into an All-Star Game, but it’s not. It’s just stupid. Professional sports leagues have the responsibility to showcase their best players in their All-Star Game. When you have players like John Scott in the All-Star Game, it looks bad for the league. Not only that, but they’re robbing the fans from seeing a better player showcase their skills in the high scoring 3-on-3 format. It’s also not doing the player their voting for any favors. Scott has come out and said he doesn’t want to be voted in the All-Star Game and is embarrassed by the whole situation, but will play in it nonetheless.

Sports leagues might want to think about getting rid of fan voting for All-Star Games altogether. Otherwise, we could soon see a Tyler Flowers or a Conor Gillaspie in the MLB All-Star Game. Believe me, as a White Sox fan, no one wants to see that.

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

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