By: Gus Wilson
With the National Football League (NFL) Pro Bowl Weekend ending after Sunday’s Pro Bowl Game between the better players in the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC), the same question arose that has been pondered over for years now: What can be done to make the All-Star weekend entertaining again? Other major sports leagues such as the NBA, MLB, and NHL all have their own entertaining all-star festivities that fans and players enjoy. How can the most-watched sport in America not have the same?
It was reported that the most recent Pro Bowl game was the lowest watched match since 2006. The low ratings can surely be attributed to the lack of effort put into the exhibition game. The players were seen playing what looked like 2 hand touch and there were very few instances of tackling. Former NFL legends such as Shannon Sharpe and Deion Sanders expressed their anger with the lack of intensity in the game. Current players such as Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay tried to explain on Twitter how players don’t want to get hurt playing in a game that has no implications. This fear of injury and lack of intensity can be further depicted with the number of opt-outs in recent years of Pro Bowl nominations. While it used to be a dream for these athletes to become Pro Bowlers, it has become a hassle to compete in.
The NFL can change many aspects of the Pro Bowl weekend to draw more attention and prevent as many opt-outs as there have been. One of these changes can be to add incentives. In the MLB All-Star Game, the winning conference gets to have home-field advantage in the World Series. While this wouldn’t work in the NFL because the Super Bowl location is already decided, the incentive for the game to be competitive is an excellent idea. Another change that can be made is to eliminate the game in general. Before the game currently, players run through an obstacle course, have a catching competition, fastest man race, and dodgeball games. Repeating these events or adding more events can bring back the enjoyment to fans and reduce injuries that may happen from the game.
While the NFL has yet to announce if they will make any changes to this game, it is needed and imminent for the league to adjust their version of an All-Star game for player and fan enjoyment.