The Pro Bowl Needs to Be Fixed
The Pro Bowl Needs to Be Fixed
By Jonah Cole
In MLB, the All-Star Game is not only a prestigious honor for players selected, but a competitive game where the best players from across the league get to go head to head with one another. However, the Pro Bowl is a different story entirely. Sure the best players are selected every year, but the game has become one of the biggest jokes in American sports. Obviously the Pro Bowl is limited by the violent nature of football, but to keep playing this sham of a game every year is a complete disservice to the fans. When Mac Jones is able to “Griddy” his way to the end zone after a 70 yard touchdown run, a serious examination of the Pro Bowl needs to happen.
What do you get if you win the Pro Bowl?
It used to be the case for MLB that whichever side won the Midsummer Classic would get home field advantage when one of their teams made it to the World Series. When that rule was changed, fans rightfully asked the question, what is to incentivize the players to give their best effort now? And that is for a sport where the risk of injury is minuscule compared to football. So surely the reward for participating in an extra game of football, where at any point you could suffer a serious injury, must be high, right? Unfortunately not.
A player on the winning side receives an $80,000 bonus, while a player on the losing side receives a $40,000 bonus. When you take into account that most players playing in the Pro Bowl already make multi-million dollar contracts, on top of lucrative sponsorships, these bonuses start to seem more ridiculous. So of course it makes sense that during Sunday’s game, players used two-hand touch rules rather than playing tackle football. Because why risk your body, your livelihood, for something so minuscule?
What can be done?
Something has to be done about the Pro Bowl. The annual event is becoming more agonizing to watch every year. But the event still needs to happen. The NFL needs to have an event where the best players in the sport can come together and be recognized for their achievements. However, the fear of injury is a valid one, so the NFL needs to find a workaround.
Perhaps the athletes can play flag football instead. All around the country, flag football is promoted as a safe alternative to tackle football, while still having the same explosiveness and intensity. Having an annual game of flag football allows for all sorts of intriguing possibilities. Davante Adams at quarterback? T.J. Watt at wide receiver? The possibilities are endless when you take the tackling out of the game, and just allow the players to have fun.
Or maybe the Pro Bowl can become a purely ceremonious occasion. The NFL gathers players in Hawaii every year, keeps their fun and light-hearted field day where athletes can participate in games like dodgeball, or skill competitions with other players at their position. But instead of having the game on Sunday, have an epic ceremony where each player, from the left guards, all the way to the star quarterbacks, are recognized for their individual achievements in front of a national audience. Bring in celebrity hosts to announce the players, have the athletes get dressed up in the fanciest clothes possible, and still have them receive their bonuses.
There is no one easy answer for how to fix the Pro Bowl. Everyone has their own opinion on how the NFL should fix the event. But watching Sunday’s festivities one thing became evidently clear to everyone at home: when even the players on the field do not take the game seriously, the need for change becomes clear and obvious.