By Tim Klapac, Sports Editor
This year’s edition of the NFL Pro Bowl has been another example of why the league needs to finally change how they approach their all-star game. Fan excitement for the game in Orlando was lackluster and while some of that might be attributed to the weather, that lack of energy from this game isn’t new. After watching the NHL All-Star events this weekend, along with the Pro Bowl, its clear to me that the NFL could salvage the Pro Bowl by moving the game to the middle of the season. Here are some reasons why.
Expands the possible hosts
The Pro Bowl has historically been played in suitable winter climates, the game currently resides in Orlando, Fla. If the game is moved to the middle of the season, more cities could be possible host sites, which would provide more interest from various fan bases. The NFL already rotates the host of the NFL Draft, so why not give more cities the opportunity to hosts the game’s biggest stars as well? Imagine the Pro Bowl being played in Baltimore one season, and then in Seattle the next.
Every season, players who are elected to the Pro Bowl often elect to skip the game, choosing to spend time with family or get a jumpstart on their offseason plans. Selected players that make it to the Super Bowl aren’t allowed to participate in the Pro Bowl for safety reasons. If the game is moved to the middle of the season, that issue no longer exists and the players who get elected to play do not have those excuses anymore.
Provides a second bye week for teams
The health of players is a major concern for the NFL, and having the Pro Bowl at the midway point would help that. If every team has a second bye week, their players could heal up and the players who participate in the Pro Bowl play at an easier pace, resulting in very few injuries. Allowing a second bye week would also open up conversations about expanding the season to 18 games, which is something the NFL has shown interest in.
The other three major sports leagues in North America all play their all-star games in the middle of the season, and their player attendance is much higher. It’s time for America’s most popular sport to make their all-star game the most popular.