TopOfTheCircle.com

Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

Jan. 27, 2019 — Are All-Star games a waste of time?

It was in September of 2004 when Bruce Arena, the coach of the U.S. men’s national soccer team, posited that all-star games were, in his words, “a complete waste of time.”

In American sports culture, all-star games have been a staple since 1933. But the game of baseball is a relatively low-risk injury sport, which is a game within a game (think of the confrontation of pitcher and hitter) with a game in which interleague play did not become a regular part of the schedule until 1997. That meant that, for example, your favorite batter wouldn’t face a favorite pitcher from the other league except in the World Series or the All-Star Game.

Other athletic competitions have their own games, but one wonders for how long. The Pro Bowl, which used to feature some tough play and strategy, is a game where players simply give themselves up and the whistle blows before a tackle.

Both the NHL and AHL have all-star games which are shortened 3-on-3 games — in essence, a glorified overtime. The NBA has lots of offensive flair and very little defense; scores this year could be out of sight, given the average scores of games played this season.

Collegiate lacrosse and field hockey have their own all-star games; field hockey is usually held at the site of the Division I Final Four on the rest day between the semifinals and the championship game. Lacrosse’s all-star showcase is usually held a couple of weeks after the NCAA final weekend(s). But for all of the awesome athletes invited to these matches, you never see these games played on television.

So, one does have to wonder: in these days of oversaturation of athletic competitions, does an all-star game still serve its purpose? Does the lack of 1-on-1 matchups in many sports hinder some sports? How about the lack incentive to win the game?

One thing I’ve been noticing in terms of all-stars is the creation of an entire league of all-star players. The UWLX and WPLL are movable feasts which have some of the greatest female lacrosse players in the world, including members of the national team.

What I have also noticed is that, around the world, there is a great number of temporary leagues — Hockey India League, Big Bash Cricket League — which play a modified version of their sports for only about a month at a time. All the games are available for view by supporters, and the live-game experience is loud and vibrant.

I have a feeling these folks have something to teach the lords of American sport.

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