All-Star doldrums and lack of interest

All-Star doldrums and lack of interest

This week Major League Baseball celebrates its midway point of the season. As is customary, the All-Star Game takes place, and once again some question, what’s the point of it?

For the players, there’s still the honor of being named an All-Star. That extends across every league; MLB, NFL, NBA, and so on. The problem here is that, at least in the MLB, it’s mostly by fan vote. As a result, you get a roster like you did this year with eight Atlanta Braves being chosen for the National League roster. (Full disclosure here, I’m an avid Braves fan, but I still have a problem with the roster selection process.)

The NBA and NFL have tried to combat this by using a weighted vote system. By and large, it works well for their respective sports. It ensures a diverse roster, which is something that MLB struggles with. MLB also has the unique issue where they require at least one representative from every team. If the idea is to showcase the league’s best, there may not be one on every team and some teams may get over-represented.

Then you have the problem of the competition itself. None of it matters. The MLB at least tried to make the All-Star Game have some sort of significance, by giving World Series hosting honors to the league that won the game. That idea was widely panned and the league quickly dropped it.

The NBA All-Star Game, while having arguably the best roster system, doesn’t really showcase what the players can do. It’s largely a shootout with no defense or true skill being showcased. To be fair, yes, the players have to score and there is a minor defensive effort, and many fans like it.

Let’s be honest, the NFL Pro Bowl, well… it’s a shell of the game that fans love to watch.

Why not have a showcase that matters? Why not provide incentives to make the games competitive?

At this point, the skills competitions in the respective sports are far more entertaining to watch than the All-Star games themselves. In 2022 only 6.2 million households tuned into the MLB All-Star Game, the lowest since 2019. The 2022 NFL Pro Bowl dropped over 6% from the year before to 6.28 million viewers. And the NBA, well it fell from 6.28 million in 2022 to 4.59 million in 2023.

In the grand scheme of things, fans will tune in to see the players from the teams they follow and hope they do well. Ask yourself though, are you honestly invested in the outcome of the game?