For years, there has been plenty of debate as to what could spice up the Pro Bowl. This year, the NFL decided to take action by moving the game from Hawaii to Miami and playing it a week before the Super Bowl in the same city.
There will be some positives that come out of this. The game will be seen by the largest crowd since 1959. And playing the game on the mainland will also drum up more interest in the game itself.
But the main problem that the league has with the game comes in the number of replacements. What good is an All-Star Game when the all stars aren’t playing?
This year, 17 out of the 86 players named have been replaced, making it the largest number the league has seen in Pro Bowl replacements since 2002, when 18 players were substituted for. You have to believe that the number would have been smaller had the game not been played before the Super Bowl. Given the new schedule, seven players from the Colts and seven players from the Saints now definitely can’t play in the game.
Is moving the game to a week before the Super Bowl then really worth it? Let’s compare how many replacements are made in the Pro Bowl versus replacements that play in the other All-Star games.
- 2010 Pro Bowl: 17 of 86 players replaced = 19.7%
- 2009 MLB All-Star Game: 6 of 66 players replaced = 9.1%
- 2009 NBA All-Star Game: 2 of 24 players replaced = 8.3%
- 2009 NHL All-Star Game: 3 of 42 players replaced = 7.1%
Critics will say that football is a more brutal sport, so more injuries are likely to happen. Those same people will say that this is the only All-Star game at the end of the year and that — unlike the other games — it's hard to play half interested, so it’s more likely that stars will sit out.
I say that it is what it is. That the NFL has an All-Star game where those originally picked sit out at a ratio that is more than twice the other leagues games. And that isn’t pretty.
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