Any Given Thursday

by Rich Shen and Austin Lim | 1/21/15 6:10pm

“The fact that you just submitted a Pro Bowl vote is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever witnessed. At no point were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having witnessed your idiocy. May God have mercy on your soul.” — Richard “Billy Madison” Shen ‘17

Last Sunday, many of us witnessed one of the greatest comebacks to ever occur in a playoff football game. The Seattle Seahawks, down 12 points with five minutes remaining, had just a .1 percent chance of winning the game, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com. Despite the odds, Seattle never quit and rallied back to force overtime. Three minutes into the extra period, Russell Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse on a 35-yard touchdown strike to end the game. Kearse had been the intended receiver of all four of Wilson’s interceptions.

The game perfectly illustrated why football can be such a thrilling ride, and how it can leave many of us craving more. Unfortunately, the only football this Sunday will be the annual Pro Bowl, which epitomizes the fact that All-Star games in professional sports never live up to their potential.

The idea of an invincible team of superstars is undeniably appealing. Look at the number of people who play career mode in video games and create leagues of fantasy sports with friends. These fans aim to construct an unbeatable team and watch as it destroys the competition. All-Star games are supposed to bring this fantasy to life.

Fans want to see the best players in their respective sports go head-to-head. After all, who doesn’t want to see Aaron Rodgers being chased down by DeMarcus Ware as he launches a deep ball to Calvin Johnson? Or see LeBron James dunking off an alley-oop pass from Derrick Rose over a helpless Kobe Bryant? (Fun fact: according to the share of team wins every player contributes in a given season, selecting Kobe Bryant as an All-Star this year would be the second worst selection in 35 years — second only to Kobe Bryant last year.)

The idea is so tantalizing, and yet, every year, All-Star games disappoint. You see players half-heartedly competing in a marginalized game, where their sole goal is to make it out without any injuries. As a sports fan, it is hard to watch an opportunity for something so great be squandered and rendered painful to watch.

To make matters worse, a player’s number of All-Star selections has a big impact on their legacy and their chances at getting into the Hall of Fame. Yet, every year some of the best players in their respective sports are ignored and overlooked for the All-Star games, meaning in the end they often miss out on earning entrance into the Hall of Fame for reasons beyond their control.

Rich and I, the sports geniuses that we are, have come up with a few solutions to this problem. Here’s a list of our top three ideas:

1. The players all sprint out of the tunnel and are greeted by a “Hunger Games”-like world. Picture Peyton Manning sniping Wes Welker (google “Peyton-Welker text conversation” for a good time) in the head with a coconut, giving him his 102,932,919th concussion (but seriously, how is he alive?), Andy Dalton (yes, he is in fact in the Pro Bowl this year) showing up for the game and having everyone laugh at him because he’s Andy Dalton and J.J. Watt wrecking every kicker and punter there before screaming to the audience, “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”

2. The players are all brought together in a room. It is dimly lit, and there is a feeling of angst in the air. Each player is handed a controller and given a set of rules. Then they play Madden against each other as themselves. Imagine how cool this would be — watching Richard Sherman play as himself and listening as he talks trash to Tom Brady, sitting next to him on the couch and Marshawn Lynch actually saying something (maybe). This scenario provides an alternative where the players actually try — as long as Vince Wilfork doesn’t eat his controller first.

3. Just get rid of the Pro Bowl. Seriously, no one likes it.

Once again, thanks for reading. Try to avoid walking past a TV on Sunday — you might accidentally watch some of the Pro Bowl.