The folks who make and market Guinness Stout have an ad campaign that uses the slogan:
“Good things come to those who wait…”
Indeed, waiting for a bartender to draw a perfect pint of Guinness is a rewarding experience when one has a thirst. In addition this morning, there is another blessing that has been dispensed to those of us who have been patiently waiting:
- The NFL has pulled the plug on the Pro Bowl!
Hallelujah! Can I get an AMEN! This is even better than waiting on a perfect pint of Guinness – – something that I have been known to do on more than one occasion.
The game had been on life support for at least the last decade – and probably the last three decades – but the league must have felt that it would lose some sort of stature within the pro sports community if it did not have its version of an “All-Star Game”. I have trouble imagining another reason that the NFL kept propping up an event that used to feature an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii for players and families – – and the players found excuses not to go. There was a time when players used to tackle in the Pro Bowl events; in recent times they did not even block one another let alone tackle. The Pro Bowl spectcles became such a farce that they brought derision to the NFL, not prestige.
Finally, after years of suggestions that the game be scrapped, the NFL decided to take the leap and kill the Pro Bowl game – – and replace it with something else. Let me be clear:
- What the NFL proposes to do in place of a Pro Bowl Game may or may not turn out to be even marginally interesting. We will not know that until we have gone through the experience of the new stuff a time or three.
- Having said that, it is difficult to imagine that what is proposed can be significantly worse than the spectacles of the last few Pro Bowl exhibitions.
Here is an outline of what will replace the Pro Bowl Game according to ESPN.com:
- Instead of a 3-hour travesty of a game, the new event will be called “The Pro Bowl Games”; they will be a weeklong series of events fitting into the two-week dead time between the Conference Championship Games and the Super Bowl Game.
- The new Pro Bowl Games will have players from the two conferences engaging in “football and non-football skills challenges over several days.” As long as the “skills competitions” do not get silly – – like having offensive linemen compete in a sack race – – these events could be entertaining if not meaningful.
- The culmination of these skills competitions will be on the Sunday before the Super Bowl; there will be a flag football game between the NFC and the AFC. This is a pitch-perfect ending to the new Pro Bowl Games because the old Pro Bowl had devolved into a flag football game minus the flags.
Because of the novelty of seeing accomplished athletes playing what is essentially a kids’ game of flag football, I might actually tune in and watch the event unfold. That result would stand in stark contrast to the old Pro Bowl Game; I have not watched more than 5 minutes of Pro Bowl Game for at least the last 25 years.
Whenever something new/different like this is announced, you can expect some PR gobbledygook. Actually, some of the verbiage associated with this announcement is relatively simple and on-point, From an NFL exec:
“We think there’s a real opportunity to do something wholly different here and move away from the traditional tackle football game. We decided the goal is to celebrate 88 of the biggest stars in the NFL in a really positive, fun, yet competitive way.”
Another sensible aspect of this new construct is that the NFL has spent time and energy over the past several years supporting and promoting flag football as a youth sports endeavor. The idea of having real NFL stars playing flag football on TV where kids can see them competing can only broaden the interest of kids and their parents in flag football as a sports endeavor.
The Pro Bowl has been around for 70 years; the first one was in 1951. When I was growing up, the Pro Bowl was interesting because it allowed me to see players that I had never seen because for part of my maturation, there was only a single local telecast available on Sundays. I could read about players in California or Green Bay, but I rarely was able to see them. Moreover, the players in the early days of the Pro Bowl may not have played the game at full speed, but they played a version of the game that was much closer to “real NFL football” than it was to “Flag Football”.
Times have changed since the 1950s and 1970s in myriad ways. It took the NFL what seems like an epoch to realize that the Pro Bowl was no longer marginally relevant even as a showcase event. Finally, they recognized what many folks have called for and have begun to evolve toward the “Pro Bowl Games”.
- Good things come to those who wait…
Finally, let me close today with the definition of “competition” from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Competition: The act of pitting one entity against another in a contest, with an eye toward determining a winner. The very foundation of a capitalist society, it ensures that those who are willing to work the hardest, sacrifice the most, and rise above those who would challenge their dominance will ultimately be rewarded by soon becoming a delicious meal for worms.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………
2 thoughts on “Patience Rewarded …”
“having offensive linemen compete in a sack race”
Let me be clear. I would TOTALLY watch that!
Maybe you would watch it once, but I cannot believe that would become “appointment viewing” for you…
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