Student Advisory Board Member
This past weekend we had the All-Star games for both the NFL and the NHL and the response from both events were polar opposites of each other. The NHL All-Star Game, which took place in Nashville once again changed up its format to try and inspire more excitement from the fans. They went from a 4 on 4 game to a 3 on 3 tournament where each of the four divisions had their own team and played eachother head to head i.e. Atlantic vs. Metropolitan and Pacific vs. Central. The winner of each game then played the winner of the other, which this year ended up being the Atlantic vs. Pacific. This format proved successful for the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) who reported a 1.17 overnight rating, which is the highest for any All-Star Game that has aired on NBCSN. The controversy surrounding the inclusion of John Scott in the game had it’s part to play in the overall interest, but once again the NHL is the first to experiment with different formats and this time the experiment appears to have paid off.
On the other hand the NFL Pro Bowl has once again underwhelmed fans and apparently players as well. There was a record 32 players replaced in this year’s Pro Bowl and while 14 of them were due to the Pro Bowl being played before Superbowl therefore meaning that anyone from the Broncos or Panthers were not allowed to participate. This means that 18 players were replaced due to injury or honestly just lack of interest. When the NFL cannot get their best players interested in a free trip to Hawaii to participate in the game how are they going to convince fans to watch? The answer is obviously not ripping off something the NHL did back in 2011 and having a fantasy draft. While the NFL took a slightly different tact in having former players do the drafting (this year it was Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice). This formula still did not work out, the Pro Bowl posted a 5.0 overnight rating, which is down 0.6 from last year and down 1.7 from 2014. Since football is more popular than hockey in America the rating was always going to be higher overall, but relatively this is a big hit to a game that nobody has cared about for years.
What can the NFL do to change the appearance of their All-Star game? They could resort to holding the game the week after the SuperBowl again, but after the NFL puts on their biggest spectical the week before anything after that is going to come across lackluster. Maybe punish players for not attending? In the NHL any player who has been voted onto the roster and decline to play because of injury, but have not missed any regular season play are suspended for the first game after the break. While that is not possible maybe try fining players who meet a similar criteria? Another possible solution that seems farfetched, but could also be enjoyable is remove the contact element, which is lackluster at best in the first place and make it a flag football game. The dynamic would change and that would bring more of an element of fun instead of something that is boring. The NFL should probably call the creative department for the NHL because while the NFL may be the most popular sport in America, from a creative standpoint they are being left in the dust.