The NFL Pro Bowl has gotten it right
For decades, the NFL Pro Bowl was quite arguably the most pointless sporting event in the world, featuring a cavalcade of athletes depressed after being eliminated from the playoffs and a level of play outmatched by Week Four of the Preseason.
However, the League has done well to spice things up in recent years. They went the way of the NBA in 2014, voting to go to an unconferenced format at the request of the NFLPA in order to keep players engaged and interested in the game (though that format was replaced with the original AFC-NFC in 2017). They moved the game to Orlando instead of a million miles away in Hawaii. In 2017, they introduced the Skills Showdown, featuring events such as the Gridiron Gauntlet and Dodgeball.
Overall, these changes have given new life to both the Pro Bowl itself and the players participating. Guys seem to be happy to be there and hanging out with new players from different teams, and the skills challenges produce good friendly competition. Heck, even the actual game itself has gotten slightly more competitive, with a 20-13 AFC win in 2016 and a 24-23 AFC win in 2017. Players are enjoying themselves and the festivities, as the Pro Bowl has moved from a singular, boring game to a week of fun in the sun where you can see your favorite stars.
But the NFL is not the only league to make things interesting when it comes to the all-stars. The NBA has had their own weeklong showcase for years, stretching way back with the Dunk and Three Point Contests and more recently with the Skills Challenge. Heck, even the NHL has competitions like ‘fastest skater’ come All-Star week. So why doesn’t baseball? The MLB has really gone the wrong way with their All Star game in recent years, not only by removing the World Series significance of it but also by not adding anything. Sure, they have the Home Run Derby, but why not other fun activities like the NBA or NFL? Fastest around the bases? Longest throw? Batting practice with targets? Dodgeball? There is so much potential for more when it comes to the MLB All Star festivities, and with similar events having success in other realms, why not at least try it? With baseball becoming the cliche boring, anti-Millennial sport, it could use all the help it can get, and adding fun things like these to an All Star Week (which would help give these 162-gamers a longer, much-needed break) is an easy way to infuse some excitement into the sport.