What I appreciate about the NHL is how well they market the roots of their sport to their main core audience. Just look at the winter-classic when they play a game outside or the sudden-death overtime in the playoffs. They have a great ability to keep fans involved by putting them on the glass and embracing traditions like throwing your hat or a dead squid on the ice. Their fans are hardcore as they all stick around till they announce the stars of the game which is a testament to the fact they are the one sport not afraid to market solely to red blooded guys. It is the only 'major' sport that you actually care about in the Olympics which might be the reason they can have stars marketed from Canada to Russia, from Finland to the US and each country has a style all its own. Add to that the fact they have the greatest trophy in sports which is given after the best post-season and you wonder why it never resonates with anybody.
See during their annual all-star game they arranged the teams by letting two NHL players pick their own teams, like a real pick-up game. If you are going to have an exhibition in the age of free-agency you have to do something to spice it up and the NHL has done this better than anybody. A few years ago they paired the teams down to continent of their home-country which creates a natural rivalry which baseball never accomplished even with their quirky home-field advantage in the World Series thing.
The other sports could learn something from the NHL which is able to keep the game fun while actually putting on a decent product. Just look at the embarrassment which was yesterday's ProBowl or the lame All-Star game the NBA will host in a week..
Well TOR has come up with some suggestions for improving the other all-star games
NBA. Can the whole all-star game, three point contest and slam-dunk and instead replace it with a 32 team 3-on-3 half-court competition. Each NBA teams sends it's three biggest stars to play the equivalent of a pick-up tournament in the kind of format these guys all grew up playing. Play to 21 with normal baskets counting for 1 point and 'threes' counting for 2. You get the ball back if you score just like on the playground. This will build camaraderie within teams, competition between them but most important let's NBA players do what they most love to do, allow for an opportunity to go one-on-one. How cool would it be to have Kobe, Pau and Odom go up against Lebron, Wade and Bosh? Just imagine the strategy where your have to decide if you go with two guards and a forward or three big guys. Let these guys play for pride and fun and you'll see rating explode.
Forget the ProBowl where nobody hits. If you aren't going to even try to tackle then get rid of that all together. 11 on 11 flag football with no tackling, no physical blocking which will emphasize footwork but a lot of long bombs and high-scoring. Want to get the kids excited, let them see you playing the game they play on the playground. It's a bit rock-and-jock but who cares since nobody watches it anyway let us at least see the players faces for a change.
Then change the selection process to put the top 3 fantasy players at each position in the ProBowl while letting the Houston Texans offensive line be artificial.
This one is tough because having this in the middle of the schedule will always be limited with pitchers needing rest. But indulge me, get rid of the stupid one game thing and instead do one of the following
Make it a 3 game series with the National League vs the American league squaring off in a city for a weekend. Think about how silly this single-game is, there is no baseball series at any level which is ever decided in one game so if you are intent on tying the World Series home-field advantage to it, then make it realistic.
Baseball is a game which escalate not just with every pitch but with every inning and with every game of a series, decisions you make in game 1 have an impact on game 3. You already get a roster of 30 players, let them play and let the managers manage.
As for the other sports: the Rider cup is kind of cool while the Davis cup is kind of lame but none of them do it as well as the NHL.
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