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Another Take on the Pro Bowl

By Alan Schechter
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Jan 30, 2011; Honolulu, HI, USA; General view of the line of scrimmage as NFC center Zak DeOssie of New York Giants (51) during the 2011 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

The NFL Pro Bowl. A game that has taken on a lot of debate in recent months. Should it continue to be played? Does the league want it? Roger Goodell doesn’t want it. Fans complain about it. Well, a decision came yesterday, regarding at least the game’s immediate future. The game will continue for next season. I for one, believe it or not, am happy about it, and hope the game continues.

First of all, when it got down to sheer numbers, there really was no way it was going to be cancelled, at least not yet. Why you ask? A couple of reasons. First of all, on the night the game aired, it was the highest rated television program that evening. You can talk about what else may have been on and say that isn’t a big deal, but fact is, it earned the top spot.

Secondly, the NFL Pro Bowl, was the highest rated all star game of the year. The highest. It beat out all of the other major sports.

What does that mean? It means that, although fans were complaining about the game, fans were also WATCHING the game. With ratings that high, there is no way the league would let the game be cancelled.

You know why I like the game, and I think others watch it too? Because it’s fun! Whether people want to admit it or not, the game is fun.

Yes, I know, I know, no defense is played in the game. Heck, the lowest scoring game in the 2000s was a 23-17 score, so clearly the stats bare that out. Last season’s game was 59-41. They modify the rules to allow more offense than defense, we all know that.

I say, so what?

You can’t go into that game, expecting a regular season football game to be played. It isn’t played that way, and if you go looking for one, you will be disappointed. You have to watch the game, understanding you are watching an exhibition. Specifically, an offensive exhibition. The ratings show that this is what people come to see, so you have to go into it looking at it from that perspective. And when you look at it that way, that once a year, you are seeing the best offensive football players in the world show off their skills, in the grand scheme of things, what’s wrong with that?

Let’s talk about the other sports all star games for a minute. If you look at the other games, two of them have just as much defense as the Pro Bowl, yet the Pro Bowl is the only one talked about being cancelled. Let me show you. First, here are the scores of the NHL All Star Games since 2000:

9-4; 6-5; 8-7

14-12; 6-4; 12-11

8-5; 12-9; 11-10; 12-9

Not very realistic compared to regular season hockey games now, is it?  Heck, watch a few minutes of this game some time, there isn’t a body check thrown, but yet, there is no talk of cancelling the game.  Why?  Offense is fun, that’s why.

How about the NBA all star game?  Let’s just go back to the last five games, and see those scores:

153-132; 141-139

134-128; 148-143

146-119

Again, not a lot of defense going on, but yet, they continue to play the game.  Why?  Offense is fun.

The baseball all-star game has defense, granted. But how could it not? What rules would you change to make it more offensive? 7 guys on the field? Make breaking balls illegal? You can’t do it, at least in any way that would make sense. Naturally, by the nature of the game, baseball will have more defense than the other sports.

Baseball still gets its chance to have the offensive display. Anyone watch the Home Run Derby? I do, every year. I look forward to it more than the game itself. And it appears that the fans in the host city love it too, as the derby is pretty packed every season. Why? Offense is fun.

Football is the only game without a skills competition, at least any notable one. The game is the only chance to show off its offensive players.

Is the Pro Bowl perfect? Far from it. It certainly can be tweaked. But the game is fun, the ratings show that the fans think it’s fun, and it should be left alone. I am glad that it is back, and hope that it is here to stay.

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