Though there has been the occasional captivating game, recent all-star competitions have not created the hype or entertainment value the leagues had intended. These events have become, well, uneventful, bearing less and less resemblance to a typical game every season.
These games have become worthless, mainly because they have absolutely no significance and give the athletes no real reason to try. Regardless of how talented professional athletes are, no fan wants to watch them go out there and give less than their best effort.
The NFL Pro Bowl is widely considered to be the worst of the all-star games. It is because of this reason alone: you can't fake football. Half-hearted fake tackling is never effective, something Steven Jackson proved when he decided to run hard for a play and brushed off AFC defenders on a 21-yard touchdown jog in what I've deemed the "Pro Bore" of 2011. I've witnessed harder hits during intramural flag football games. The Pro Bowl has become such a joke and mockery of football that the NFL should simply do away with this waste of a game. This became obvious when I found myself reaching for my humanities reading in the first quarter … yes, it was that boring.
While not quite as boring as Plato, the NBA All-Star Weekend has been a bit of a drag lately. Like football, basketball is difficult to fake. To see defenders parting like the Red Sea whenever a player even threatens to drive the lane is now commonplace at the All-Star Weekend. The NBA can get away with a lack of defense in all-star games, however, because the entire organization has become notorious for it – college basketball is undoubtedly superior.
I must mention the great potential of the 3-point contest, skills competition and dunk contest. The problem is that, as is the case with other sports, the best players in the league are not competing in these events. Because athletes require large financial investments from owners and teams, an injury at an all-star game could literally cost a team millions in salary and lost revenue. If the NBA could provide a greater incentive that draws some of the big-name players to compete in these side competitions, viewership would inevitably rise.
There are a few bright spots in the all-star world. The NHL, for example, deserves some praise for its reformatted all-star game. Today, the fans work with the NHL Hockey Operations Department to vote in the all-stars, choose captains and then alternately select the teams. Players and the fans seem to enjoy the more personal atmosphere; it feels almost as if the two teams had just met up to skate on a frozen pond behind a friend's house before dinner.
Unlike the NHL and the rest of the major leagues, Major League Baseball uses its all-start game to decide which league receives home field advantage in the World Series. This automatically makes the MLB All-Star Game the greatest of all of the all-star contests. Whether you enjoy baseball or not, MLB's mid-summer classic is more entertaining than other sports' all-star games because there is a prize encouraging the players' effort.
The NFL Pro Bowl and the NHL and NBA all-star games currently hold very little value and would not be missed by a majority of fans. But as we all know, in the end it's all about the Benjamins. And because these events bring in a large amount of revenue for these leagues – leagues starving for capital – there is little chance that they will be axed in the near future. The question, however, remains: How low must an all-star game sink in order for it to be discontinued by the league?