Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pro Bowl Blahs

Sorry that I've been neglecting this blog for so long. I need this blog for my thoughts that aren't necessarily music or band-related. And now that I have my very own laptop, I can blog pretty much anytime, anywhere. So here's some random blathering that I typed up a few hours ago:

I'm watching the NFL's Pro Bowl today, and while I'm glad that the league decided to return their annual all-star game to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawai'i, it still doesn't seem all that big a draw for the local audience from what the TV cameras show. Hell, the only reason a lot of those players are even there is because the League is compelling them to be there, by not excusing players from skipping the Pro Bowl for any other reason than injury, legitimate emergency, or for playing in the Super Bowl the following week.

The problem I see with the Pro Bowl is that for the most part, it's the same guys playing the same game at the same time every year. With the system in place for choosing players (a combination of fan and player balloting), it sets it up that once a player reaches the level of being one of the best two or three at their position, inclusion to the Pro Bowl becomes almost automatic for the remainder of that player's career. And after a while, going to Hawai'i right after the conclusion of the season may – as crazy as it seems – get boring for them. So what I think the NFL needs to do to spice up the experience for the players is quite simple: take the Pro Bowl on the road.

So where would you take the Pro Bowl to? Last year, the NFL moved the game to the site of that season's Super Bowl (Miami-Dade, FL), where the response was..... well, it was kinda meh. Let's face it, while Miami is a great place, it's just another NFL city to the players. So here's my thoughts on where the Pro Bowl should go: ANYWHERE BUT AMERICA. Here's some ideas:

First off, Canada makes a good place to start. With large domed stadia in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, the game would be pretty much weatherproof. Other pluses to having a Pro Bowl in Canada would be adding the Canadian Football League's All-Star Game to the Pro Bowl festivities, and having the game in Toronto would also help gauge that area's support for a possible NFL franchise in Hogtowne, be it either an expansion franchise or an existing franchise (with the Buffalo Bills the most likely candidate). The downside would be well, going to Canada in the dead of winter – probably not most players' idea of fun.

The next idea would be Europe, specifically the cities with past association to the NFL's World League of American Football (WLAF)/NFL Europa, with those cities being London, Glasgow, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main, and Berlin. Taking the Pro Bowl to Europe would bring a whole new level of excitement to American Football fans in Europe. Oh, you don't think there are NFL fans in Europe? Then why was it that any time I saw Dusseldorf's Rhein Fire playing at home (that being either Dusseldorf's Waldstadion or the aufSchalke Arena in the suburb of Schalke), there was always a huge, and most importantly local crowd there to support the home team? More over, staging Pro Bowls in Europe would give the NFL a barometer towards future expansion in Europe.

But in my opinion, the best route for the Pro Bowl would be taking it Down Under. If you're going to send these players someplace, why not send them someplace they've really never been to? And it wouldn't hurt to have the game in a Southern Hemisphere summer. Why not Melbourne or Sydney? Why not Auckland, New Zealand, or Cape Town or Johannesburg in South Africa? Hell, why not go completely off the proverbial grid and stage a Pro Bowl in Rio? Sao Paulo? Buenos Aires? Why not Tokyo, Beijing, or even Dubai? The NFL has long stated a desire to become a truly global entity, so why not take that next step, and take the Pro Bowl truly global? Why not create a continental rotation, where the 2013 game would be in Melbourne, then the following year in London, Cape Town the year after that, and so on?

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