The sports world seemed to completely stop what it was doing Sunday night, turning it's collective attention to a previously unlikely event. The NBA All Star game.
Usually an alley-oop filled, defense-less affair, Sunday's All Star game was quite literally the best I've ever seen. Across any sport.
The NBA experimented with the “Elam Ending,” setting a target score in the fourth quarter rather than using the normal running clock. This resulted in the world's best players going 100% at one another for the entire fourth quarter, as Team LeBron outlasted Team Giannis 157-155.
As a basketball fan it was awesome to see. But I imagine that even for non-NBA fans this was a pretty cool moment. Guys like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid showing off their competitive spirit, going at each other one on one was exactly what any sports fan wants to see. The best in the world competing.
Being that this is an NFL-focused site, my mind immediately went to the NFL's All Star game – the Pro Bowl.
No All Star game has been criticized like the Pro Bowl has, and for good reason. Due to the physicality of the sport players don't want to go 100% for a meaningless exhibition game at the end of the season.
And who can blame them?
Why risk injury over something which literally means nothing?
Still, I've always loved the Pro Bowl week as a celebration of the league's best players. But when the game itself is a joke, it becomes hard to get excited for this league wide celebration.
“Fixing” the Pro Bowl has been a hot topic for years now. And to be fair, the league has tried some different solutions. Whether it was introducing team captains, a Pro Bowl draft, or bringing back the Skills Challenges the league has put forth an effort to save this All Star affair. But nothing seems to work for the actual game.
To be frank – I don't think there's a solution to make the Pro Bowl as fun and competitive as what we saw from the NBA last Sunday. The sport itself is simply too dangerous.
What could happen, however, is a shift to 7 on 7 competition. This would take away the physical danger while opening up the game to more excitement. After all, who doesn't love receivers and defensive backs going at it? The competitive juices would be flowing immediately.
For the linemen you could introduce one-on-one's, “fat man football,” or maybe some sort of strength competition. Anything would be better than the effort we see put forth each week currently.
So Roger Goodell, if you're reading this, let's have a 7 on 7 tournament next year. The best players in each division make up a team, and we get some competition during the Pro Bowl.