This weekend is normally reserved for the preparation of sports’ Christmas, the Super Bowl.
We get our first chance to steer clear of Chris Berman yelling at us, everyone’s man crush on football’s Father Time, Brett Farve, and most importantly, John Madden impersonations.
But these things are being thrown back at us during our “off” week for the Pro Bowl, football’s sad attempt to copy baseball and basketball in their ever-so-fantastic all-star extravaganzas.
The all-star cash cows of sports have always been way too easy to disregard before. As a big-time sports fan, I honestly can say that I’ve never watched the Pro Bowl, and I’m proud of that.
It was always nicely placed after the season was said and done so that sports actually in season like basketball and hockey can take over their awfully short reign as the most important highlights on Sportscenter.
But now the Pro Bowl has been moved to the week before the Super Bowl, which normally is a pretty big deal. And occasionally, the best teams in the league partake in the year-end festivities, which means that a handful of the best players in the game such as Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, won’t be able to participate.
Now, I obviously wouldn’t watch the Pro Bowl even if it had a foolish meaning like, determining home-field advantage in the Super Bowl or something, but this doesn’t make sense.
It got me wondering about other sports and their meaningless ideas.
Although it holds a place near and dear to my heart, baseball is almost as bad as football in this regard. The only time dumber for the NFL to play the Pro-Bowl would be before the season when everyone is getting ready for the upcoming season.
But baseball decided no one needs to get ready for the season, I mean, stretching is a sign of weakness, right?
Anyway, baseball’s latest brainchild, the World Baseball Classic, is its way to either try and copy the World Cup or show the Olympics it has moved on after their break-up.
But the problem baseball faces is when to play this month-long tournament, which they play every other year. They could go hockey-style and stop play mid-season for a month, or play during the offseason.
The problem is if they play in winter, there will be no games played in America, and we’ve seen what happens when a worldwide event is played overseas during the last Olympics or any World Cup.
Now I know, you’re thinking, “Well Einstein, when should baseball play it?”
The answer is never. This is baseball’s sad attempt at making money by selling merchandise that’s cool for a month until it’s over, and then your Mike Piazza Italy jersey is almost cooler than your Ninja Turtle footie pajamas.
Baseball is also trying to pump life into its sport overseas. This is admirable on its part, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of taking your star players out of rhythm.
Baseball players are notoriously the most superstitious people. From not washing your batting helmet to not touching the foul line as you enter the field to play defense (that was mine), baseball players are creatures of habit.
Trying to make them start up a month or two early isn’t a good thing for them.
Plus, every other year, this will extend some players’ season by a month or two to about 10 months. Yeah, I know working 10 months out of 12, rough stuff.
But sports are taxing. There’s a reason athletes can’t do menial physical activities late into their lives. Sports are physically demanding, especially when you play every day.
The last place a sport is going to have a similar problem is the next occurrence we will see. In a month, the NHL is going to suspend its season to allow its players to play in the Olympics.
I’m all about patriotism and supporting your country, but these people are getting paid millions of dollars to play this game and stopping play for a month is never good.
I understand these guys want to represent their native lands, but hockey fans aren’t going to want to take this much time off. Yeah, I’ll watch Team USA play and I’ll root for Patrick Kane, but it’s not the same.
Right now the Hawks are playing some great hockey and after last year’s showing in the playoffs, a lot of fans in these parts are getting excited. After four months of watching some usually fantastic hockey, I’m going to have to settle for watching Team USA beat up on the minor leaguers Latvia is going to suit up and then get summarily get dismissed by Canada.
And like I mentioned before, all this is going to do is break up the rhythms these players develop during the course of a season, especially when it comes to those developed between teammates.
Hockey is a sport where players almost completely rely on each other to function and the first few games back will probably be sloppy contests.
I fully expect one or two teams to fall completely off their paces, especially teams that have been playing way above expectations like Colorado or Phoenix.
All in all, sports are filled with bad ideas, whether it’s signing Mike Hampton long-term or any Gilbert Arenas joke.
Sports are built on innovative ideas and no one is going to have all brilliant ideas, but some need to end or never start.
So this weekend, watch the Senior Bowl, which is correctly placed once all bowl games are complete, and prepare for your team’s draft.
And if you’re a Bears fan and have no draft picks to look forward to and a history of awful drafts anyway, go see Avatar. I heard it’s better than Titanic.
Bill Hopkins is a sophomore sports communication major from Oswego. He is the Scout sports editor.
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