All stars, no play

Posted by Katie Peverada

On Sunday night, Arian Foster tweeted "There is no defense being played. This is a disgrace! They should cancel the nba [sic] all-star game!" Foster, a running back for the Houston Texans, brought up an excellent point with his tweet. Why is there such a hullabaloo surrounding the lack of defense and overall effort in the NFL all-star game when the NBA all-star game is just as defenseless?
For the past few years, much to do has been made about the NFL Pro Bowl becoming nothing more than players accepting a free trip to Hawaii in exchange for running a few plays at half-speed. This is all assuming that they accept an invitation , as many of the top vote-getters bow out, citing injury.
The 2012 Pro Bowl especially lacked defense, with Brandon Marshall's unbelievable six catches, four of which went for touchdowns. There were four total punts in the 2012 game, and all of them came from the NFC side. This, coupled with the previous few all-star games, led the league and commissioner Roger Goodell to seriously consider cancelling the 2013 Pro Bowl.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending upon which way you look at it, the 2013 edition was played at the insistence of the NFL Players Association. The game itself did nothing to quell the thoughts swirling around that the Pro Bowl should be cancelled. However, there was a marked improvement in the overall effort of the players. The great Peyton Manning commanded his fellow players to put forth more effort, and results followed. Take the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, J.J. Watt, who split his pinkie finger open to the point that it required stitches. Splitting a finger open isn't something that occurs at half-speed.
But is a bloody pinkie finger enough to convince the league to keep the game going? Doubtful. The NFC outscored the AFC 62-35. It was again an offensive show that was easy to tune out. However, if the NFL wants to cancel the game based on the score, then it should look at Foster's tweet.
Foster was referencing the NBA All-Star game, which the West won 143-138. In the current season, the Houston Rockets lead the league in points-per-game, averaging 106.13. They are allowing their opponents 103.29 points-per-game, which is the second highest in the league. There is a substantial difference between the score of an average NBA game and the All-Star game. However, there are no calls to get rid of the game recognizing the best players in the NBA.
There is one large difference between the NFL and the NBA all-star games and most professional sports leagues all-star games for that matter. The NBA weekend features a slate of other competitions, ranging from a slam-dunk contest to a celebrity all-star game. This is where the NFL should open its eyes.
Even leagues that are less popular overall hold successful all-star weekends. The NHL has two days of competition with the Super Skills Challenge and then the actual game. Major League Baseball holds the Home Run Derby the night before its all-star game. For the record, the NFL used to hold a skills competition, but did away with it for some reason in 2007.
The NFL is far and away the most prosperous professional sports league in the United States, but it fails to grasp the idea that the fans are more interested in the things they don't normally get to see. There are 256 regular-season games in an NFL season, but fans are left to speculate who the fastest receiver is or which kicker is the most accurate

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