All-Star Games Have Run Their Course


Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Today the NBA will have its annual All-Star game in New Orleans, Louisiana but it only serves as a reminder to me that in-season exhibition games should just be abolished, they are not the must-watch events they were in the past.

The idea of the All-Star game is a great one; put the best your sport has to offer on display for all to see and let them showcase the sport. The problem is that the games themselves never fulfill that promise. This is not just the case for the NBA’s version of the All-Star game, but every sport.

The first mistake that is made in every sport is allowing the fans to decide who makes the teams. This should not a popularity contest, it should be a showcase of the best players in the sport. I don’t care how popular Yao Ming was amongst his fans, he did not deserve to be an all-star in 2011 when he played in 5 games the entire season. I don’t care whether it is a vote amongst the players, coaches, general managers or writers to decide who makes the teams, as long as it is taken out of the hands of the fans.

The second blunder of the All-Star process is selecting the teams mid-season. This is the only advantage the Pro Bowl, which is by far the worst of the exhibitions, has against the other major sports. What sense does it make to determine who were the best players before the entire season has run its course? Should David Wright, who got off to a strong start last season but only played 112 games and finished with 58 RBI, be recognized as one of the premier third basemen in the National League last year? Why not allow the entire season play out and select the teams at the end?

My biggest issue with the games, and this is where the Pro Bowl is most guilty, is that they do not actually display the best that their sports have to offer because they do not showcase the game in its true form. Pitchers like Roy Halladay pitching two innings when they routinely would pitch complete games for their clubs, or a player like Scott Stevens being marginalized in the game because his most impressive skill was his ability to crush someone with an open ice hit, or every single defensive player in the Pro Bowl being there for show because you can’t risk injuries in a meaningless game. The NBA All-star game is the only game in which defense could easily be on display throughout, but it seems the players have agreed they aren’t going to give the effort needed to put on a defensive performance during the exhibition.

I understand that players, and teams, do not want to risk injury in a game that does count, that makes sense, what doesn’t make sense is why they still go through with the formality of the games at all. Players have stipulations in their contracts that give them bonuses for making all-star teams, so you can’t do away with naming the teams all together, but playing the games has become useless and unwatchable for fans.