All-star games get mixed reviews from fans, but the fact remains that they are very much a part of every professional team sport in existence. On paper the idea seems great; you bring the most talented players in the sport together and have them play a game. The end result should be pretty amazing—best of the best playing and all--right?
Sadly, that is not always the case. Sometimes the best don’t play like the best. Sometimes the best don’t play at all and the game is filled with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choices. Sometimes the game, for lack of a better word--sucks. Lucky for fans, some leagues have put their own spin on their respective all-star event to try to make it entertaining.
In a perfect world, every all-star event would rock, but if that were the case it would be pretty hard to rank them from the absolute worst event ever created to something that is unique and entertaining that the other sports could learn a thing or two from.
5. AFC-NFC Pro Bowl: The NFL easily has the worst all-star event in the history of sports. The league has tried to make it mildly enticing to the players by holding it in Hawaii, but these guys are all millionaires—they can go to Hawaii whenever they want! Alas, most of the guys voted in tend to find a reason not to play, legitimate or not, and those that do barely even try. The lack of effort in the 2012 edition was so apparent the league and the players should be embarrassed.
4. MLB All-Star Game: Baseball made the game relevant a few years back by giving the winner home field advantage in the World Series. Sadly, that does not seem to matter. Too many guys who seem to find one reason or another not to play; last season a record 84 players ended up being named all-stars in order to fill out the rosters for the game. Even the Home Run Derby lacks pop sometimes.
3. NHL All-Star Game: The NHL has to be given a lot of credit for trying to make sure the best players are the ones that actually do play in the game. Players must get their absence approved or face the possibility of a one-game suspension (NFL, MLB—you guys listening?). They also deserve a lot of credit for changing up the format prior to the 2010 edition; the teams are now chosen playground style from the pool of players voted in—a lot like a fantasy draft.
What has these guys ranked third is the reason for the change in format—no one watches.
2. MLS All-Star Game: Starting in 2010, Major League Soccer opted for something different-- one team of all-stars representing the league against an international club. What better way to get the best out of a team of all-stars than for them to play a team that would be more than happy to squash them?
The last two years the all-stars have faced off against one of the most popular teams in the world, Manchester United. Fans can’t lose; they either get to see the all-stars play a stellar game against tough competition or they get to see one of the best teams in the world play live.
MLS has done the most of any pro league to ensure that the game is competitive, but until its popularity can rival that of the other pro sports it is ranked No 2.
The NBA is smart with their all-star event by giving fans exactly what they want, scoring and the most popular players. Fans vote in the starting five for each squad, typically the most popular players in each conference. They aren’t always the best, but with millions of votes cast it is clear what the fans want. Defense is an accepted casualty of the game to make sure that scoring is ridiculously high.
Where the NBA really earns the title of best all-star event is in the other stuff surrounding the game. Other sports have events prior to the all-star game, but no sport publicizes them as much as the NBA does theirs. It’s not the Annual All-Star game in the NBA; it’s the Annual All-Star Weekend.
Starting with the Celebrity Game and Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, the skills-oriented competitions on Saturday (Shooting Stars Competition, Skills Challenge, Three-Point Shootout and Slam Dunk Contest), and the All-Star Sunday afternoon, fans are treated to a barrage of events that truly showcases the best of the best talents that the game has to offer.