Coaches, athletes like NFL Pro Bowl, want continued
Matt Gad—Sports Writer
Other than the Super Bowl, we recently experienced the NFL’s Pro Bowl, where the league’s top players get voted in by the fans for an action-packed game down in Orlando, Fla.
While some football fans cherish the opportunity to watch their favorite players, others have called the game obsolete and an offensive showcase.
According to a 2018 study conducted by Statista, a leading provider of market and consumer data, besides the 2018 ProBowl, the event had suffered a six million viewer decline over seven consecutive years.
Assistant sports management professor Kevin McGinniss, who belongs to the former group, looks at the event from a more business point-of-view.
“[The Pro Bowl] is very worthwhile,” McGinniss said. “The NFL made a good decision moving the game to a week before the Super Bowl and, in all due respect to Hawaii, moving the game to the mainland and in a more densely populated area such as Orlando.”
Over the past several years, the league has toyed with some changes to try to increase the game’s viewership, including getting rid of the AFC vs. NFC format and appointing two players captain, similar to the new style of NBA All-Star weekend. The two opposing squads are then picked and put into primetime on a Saturday night. However, as of late, they’ve opened for a more traditional route: returning to the classic AFC vs. NFC matchup again in a 3 p.m. game the Sunday before the Super Bowl.
“It’s a good event which reaches out to the teams and their players. It’s starting to become less and less of a game and more of a sideshow, a little, but they enjoy it,” Southern football coach Tom Godek said. “You get to see some of the personalities you may not know on Sundays and Monday nights and stuff.”
This year’s game wasn’t much in the way of offensive fireworks, with the AFC taking it 26-7, but there have been times in the past where the game’s final score has been up there.
Godek said he doesn’t watch much NFL football during the season because he’s busy with his own program and he was not able to watch this year’s edition since they’re in recruiting season. He said he hasn’t thought much about the game’s actual state, but suggested it might be better in a more traditional slot during the season, like how many leagues have their All-Star festivities at the midway point.
“Just thinking about it maybe you have it during the bye week, an extra week off during the season,” he said.
Recently, the NFL has added some extra events on that weekend to try to drum up some more entertainment with the Pro Bowlers and their fans, namely a dodgeball showdown between superstar players from each conference.
“There’s a lot of youth and star power — a lot of rookies and second-year players,” senior wide receiver Earl Myers said. “It’s cool to see the best of the best play in the game. It’s more so the accolade of making it to the Pro Bowl, though. It’s a tremendous goal and getting to the Pro Bowl is a checklist and a nice little holiday for the players.”
Other than players being selected to various Division II All-Star games by the league after one’s college career ends, the Owls don’t really have a Pro Bowl-type of environment. The most closely-linked opportunity would be what they call “Thursday Night Football,” when the program lets the younger crop of talent on their roster — specifically freshmen — go against each other in an multisquad matchup.
“For the most part, the season is just about focus and paying attention to our opponent for the week but after the season we have a freshman showcase,” Myers said. “It gives us a chance to watch the freshmen and the redshirts who don’t get any playing time.”