I love watching sports. I enjoy NFL football. I will not be watching the Pro Bowl all star game today. But then, I haven't watched the Pro Bowl in a few years. ("Few" will be defined here as at least 30.) I've caught replays now and then, and they're so embarrassing that it's kept confirming my decision.
Few all star games are terribly entertaining, no athlete ever appears to be trying their hardest, but the games generally have a connection to the actual sport.
In baseball, maybe the pitcher isn't throwing at 95 MP, but no batter only swings halfway. He's trying to hit the ball, just like in a real game. In basketball, zero defense is played -- but offense certainly is. Hockey can be problematic, but even if you're not playing at full speed and crashing into the boards, it's near-impossible for these guys to skate slow.
But the Pro Bowl? It's like watching a pick-up flag football game. It makes the Indoor Football League look impressive. Unfortunately, the boring play is understandable. These guys just finished getting pounded for 16 games that actually count. Why in the world would you want to risk injury in a came that doesn't remotely matter. And unlike the other sports who play their all star games at the halfway point of the season, when players are not only at their peak, but have to remain there for the second half -- the Pro Bowl is played when the season is over. The players are finished, physically and more importantly, mentally. There's no game next week, it's done.
And so they play at what looks like quarter speed. If that, on some plays.
This is four minutes of "highlights" from last year's Pro Bowl. That's far too much. There might be some nice passes, but no one is rushing and no one is defending. But there is a lot of jogging. The only real reason to watch this for more than 30 seconds is because the announcers are in Portuguese. Seriously. It's the one thing that makes this entertaining.
There's pretty much only two reasons they keep playing the Pro Bowl, from what I've read. One is that it would be embarrassing to the league not to have one. And the others is that players' wives like the free trip to Hawaii. But honestly, these players makes a few million dollars a year, I think they can afford a trip to Oahu. And the quality of play has to be more embarrassing to the NFL than not playing.
My first reaction is that they should cancel the Pro Bowl. Put it out of its misery. But if they really do want an event and give a treat to the families of those selected, maybe instead they should re-address what the event is. Turn it into something like what the NBA does the two days before the basketball all-star game, which are basically a series of "skills competitions," like the dunk contest. Come up with some entertaining skills competitions for football and leave it at that. There doesn't have to be an all-star game. They just should have something that's actually semi-worth watching.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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