Today used to be called “in between Sunday.” This is the Sunday in between Championship Sunday and Super Bowl Sunday. It was the middle of two weeks of hype leading up to the NFL’s marquis day.
In 2010, the National Football League moved the Pro Bowl from the week after the Super Bowl to the week before it. The biggest problem, among others, with this scheduling change is the fact that the players on the two championship teams wouldn’t participate in the game. Let’s digest that for a minute. The best players on the top two teams in the league would skip a game set aside for stars to showcase their talents.
One of the reasons for the change of schedule was the idea that the Pro Bowl would be played in the same venue as the Super Bowl. This would limit traveling to Hawaii where the game was traditionally held. That theory never did catch on. This year’s game and festivities will be held in Orlando.
Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL
In recent times the National Hockey League also claimed the weekend prior to the Super Bowl as their All-Star Weekend. The main reason for the move from a mid-week night game was the fact that the NFL was off. Of course that ended in 2010 when Roger Goodell in his infinite wisdom invaded Gary Bettman’s space.
This year the NHL goes Hollywood with the Los Angeles Kings hosting the festivities.
Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Kings
Let’s face it, football and hockey do not lend themselves to great all-star games. The Pro Bowl limits many defenses and blitzing is a penalty. The result is always a high scoring affair. The NHL’s game is basically “flag hockey,” checking is not allowed. The NHL All-Star Game is reminiscent of an adult league at a local ice skating rink in which the best goaltenders in the business are hung out to dry. Both games are an excersise in keeping from getting hit.
I will give the NHL some credit for making an attempt to make their showcase palatable. The skills competition on Saturday night has become more of a highlight of the event than the actual game. You have an evening of the best players in the league showcasing what they do best. This year the league will continue with a three period mini tournament among the four divisions. Although it was exciting last year it still resulted in a hidden score-fest. Total goals in last year’s game was 23, including a 9-6 mini game between the Western Conference divisions. Keep in mind this was in one period.
After a choose-up format over the past few years the NFL finally and mercifully return to an AFC-NFC format this year. This is how it was for generations, why Mr. Goodell turned a nationally televised all-star event into a glorified choose-up game is still beyond me.
So what are your plans for today? Non contact football? Three on three mini non contact hockey? How about skipping them both altogether and take a nap?