Growing up I fell in love with watching football, it brought a pure sense of excitement whenever a game was on television. I would heat up a bag of Oral Redenbacher kettle corn and go to town. It's never a better feeling than regular-season football. Throughout the season it's hard to just watch a couple of primetime games, I have to watch all of them.
January is when all the magic happens and, amid all the NFL playoff games that have me on the edge of my seat filled with suspense and pandemonium, I can sit back, relax and take in a breather with the NFL Pro Bowl. The All-Star Game of the NFL is an amusing occasion that truly allows me to see my favorite players in the league and enjoy them all coming together to create a super team going up against another super team.
The NFL had recently made the decision to replace the Pro Bowl with the newly designed “Pro Bowl Games” including the skills challenge and a flag football game.
I believe this choice to just move on from the annual tradition is a forced impulsive decision that could have the potential to be detrimental to the NFL in its advertising and marketing reach to their audience.
The Pro Bowl has been an institution in the league that has been in existence for the last 71 years, well established before the AFC-NFC merger back in 1966. One thing that the NFL has made very clear is that you can not kill tradition, but making this decision won't only deprive fans of the opportunity to watch their favorite players in late January/February, but it could also become the start of a total rebrand the NFL is about to go through with.
I think getting rid of the Pro Bowl will decrease the event in views for that week before the superbowl, now becoming a week where basketball has been very prevalent in national television ratings. People would rather watch the NBA during this time with the anticipation for their league’s push for its covenant All-Star game that comes in mid-February, and you can't forget to mention the NCAA Basketball with the excitement for the start of March Madness. There is too much for the NFL to compete with on television to take away a game for a whole new idea.
The replacement of the Pro Bowl is set to be a skills competition and flag football game that has no contact whatsoever. According to Chritstina Gough, a research expert with Statista, “ The demographics of the avid NFL fan is 35-44”. I don't know about you, but I don't think this demographic is going to be watching flag football on television.
Why would the NFL take away a title that means so much to the league's history, the fans and the players? The NFL takes pride in the process and journey it takes to receive a selection from the Pro Bowl committee, but taking away the game is making a mockery of that process.
Imagine having the best season of your career, but not being on a playoff-bound team. This means you won't have a chance to be in a primetime game after the regular season concludes, the Pro Bowl is your best chance at recognition. But instead of showcasing your skills, you are playing dodgeball against other players.
The Pro Bowl will always be there for players that are in the situation where their talent isn't necessarily seen and awarded. For some players they depend on Pro Bowl selections to have the criteria of a hall of fame career. Players like Junior Seau, Barry Sanders and Anthony Munoz, those who have a trophy case filled with Pro Bowls but haven't necessarily made that many postseason appearances in comparison.
The Pro Bowl has so many factors that allow it to stay in the mix of the NFL’s history forever. No matter what opinion or thought comes across the board, you must realize the significance that the game brings to the league. None can compare the game to its history for what it really does for the league, its fans , and most importantly its players.
Contact Calvin Scott with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CalvinAJScott.