Archive for January, 2011

Stop Raining on the Parade


National media has a love affair with sports, but a supreme hatred for all-star showcases. With two in one weekend you would have thought every single analyst for hockey and football had their dog die over the last five days. None are enthusiasts of the way these things are displayed, and many deal with their disgust and anger in the wrong way. It is a fact that these “games” are not exactly entertaining when compared to the regular season, or especially playoffs, but if the NFL and NHL are determined to have this platform someone needs to tell the analysts its okay to be a fan for just one day. After all, the fans are the only reason these things are played. It’s not a time to dissect plays, critique the coaching moves, or question the refs; it is simply a time to enjoy capable skill level of the players on the field or ice. Stop whining that there is no defense, no hitting, no checking, no real desire, etc. etc. It’s an all-star game, it is the one time that players are supposed to laugh and smile during play.

The Pro-Bowl, once again, was played the week before the Super Bowl, a change that was first enacted last year to help drum up more interest by using the Super Bowl buzz as a backdrop. The idea is a tad silly considering the lackadaisical effort of everyone participating compared to the supreme exertion put forth during a Super Bowl game. The players basically treat the game as an on-field vacation because that is essentially what it is, and for the most part the fans are aware of that. This year any sort of tackling or competitive fire was gone after minute one of the second quarter, but can you really blame the players? It’s not their fault they are trying to not get injured during a meaningless game of glorified touch football that the NFL wants them to play. Yes, being named to the pro-bowl is an honor, but did you know that being named a pro-bowler and being named an all-pro are two completely separate things? The first doesn’t matter much, but the second is extremely prestigious. Let them enjoy themselves. Lets just watch and marvel as the players run faster and throw farther than anything most of the watching public could dream about.

The NHL All-Star weekend had taken a year off last year thanks to the Winter Olympics, and in that time Brendan Shanahan, the NHL vice president for hockey and business development, decided to blow up the old way of doing things and implement something entirely different, a players fantasy draft; a move that had every hockey player/fan reminiscing about their younger days on the blacktop or pond. Conferences were no longer the dividing line for teams. The idea was a bit weird at first, but seemed to create an interesting dynamic during the Friday night draft, especially when certain players were not taken where they felt they should. The “game” is played on Sunday, but the more interesting night of the weekend is the skills competition, where players can not only show off their amazing talents, but also let the fans get a sense of their personalities through random antics, props, and showmanship.

As is customary, and in the same fashion as the Pro-Bowl, defense is at an all-time low, as players have no desire in getting injured during the “game”, but it is still relatively fun to watch the tic-tac-toe passing and snipering that some of the best players in the league are capable of when given open ice.

The only viable complaint that cannot be argued against is that the best players don’t always participate. This is not in reference to the players that are legitimately hurt, but there are others that decide that the Pro-Bowl or All-star game is not really what they want to be doing and make up some sort of excuse to get out of it. Fans want to see a fun game that is featuring the absolute best players, not the second or third choices. If the fans vote you in, at least act like that means something to you and take part. In football it is about a quarter of playing time, and in hockey its 17 minutes of skating around trying to set up pretty goals. I think you guys can handle it.

All in all, both experiences are fun as long as you remember to watch both with a grain of salt. If you are incapable of doing so then go watch a repeat of CSI or one of the 10 Law and Order shows that run these days. Isn’t an episode of either always on?

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