Olympics should serve as replacement for All-Star games

By Johnathan Hettinger

Editor’s note: This column is written as part of a point-counterpoint. The other column, supporting the relevance of All-Star games, can be read here.

haven’t watched an All-Star game since Dustin Fenili’s birthday party in sixth grade.

Not an MLB all-star game, a NBA all-star game, a Pro Bowl or an NHL all-star game (if I’m being honest, I had to look up whether the NHL even has an all-star game). My lack of viewership shows how I feel about all-star games — they don’t matter, they’re a waste of my time and of everyone else’s, including the players’.

Sure, I, like everyone else, love seeing the best of the best compete against each other, no matter what the competition, but all-star games don’t provide fans with that opportunity. The athletes don’t compete at their highest level. Never in a real NBA game will you see a team score 89 points in the first half, especially if that team doesn’t win. I realize that no team will ever have the combined offensive firepower of Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, etc. But if the all-star game were a true measure of the world’s best basketball players competing, the final score wouldn’t be 163-155. 

Major League Baseball has tried to increase competition by increasing the stakes, with the winner of the all-star game taking home field advantage in the world series, but only two of the 30 teams are actually affected by this outcome, and it seems like an arbitrary and unfair way to determine who gets such a distinct advantage in the championship series.

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A perfect example of why all-star games don’t matter can be seen right now, on the coast of the Black Sea in southern Russia. 

While the NHL takes a break, the league’s best are competing against each other for Olympic gold. It’s amazing to see a team composed of Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel and TJ Oshie compete against another side composed of Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Ryan Getzlaf. Casual fans of the sport are much more likely to tune in because of national pride and seeing the world’s best compete on the highest stage.

Moving to a system where the Olympics are the only stage where the world’s best all-star lineups collide would provide an even bigger build-up for the games, but it would also provide more incentive for the world’s best to compete, which has been a problem in the past. Although this would take more time out of the different leagues’ schedules than an all-star break, it would only happen once every four years, so the leagues could justify a longer break. 

One argument against this is that the NFL couldn’t have an all-star game because other countries don’t play football, but, as my fellow writer Peter Bailey-Wells concedes, no one likes the Pro Bowl, anyway.

The most fun part of the All-Star break in every sport is the fun games that come with it, like the home run derby or the dunk contest. The leagues could still have these extra elements to showcase the fun talents of the world’s best athletes, but the all-star games are dated and unrealistic representations of the sports. 

Instead, let’s let the world’s best compete every four years for a gold medal. I’ll tune in to that.

Johnathan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jhett93.