I am one who likes the best players in a league in a given season to come upon a city and take part in events honoring their season and play a game for fun. All of that constitutes an All-Star game, and I am fine with them. But, there is a double standard. In one league, we criticize the players for not trying hard enough, and in another, we criticize because the game means something. What is the true meaning of an All-Star game, with all of the individual criticisms facing each league?
Dictionary.com defines an All-Star as an athlete chosen as the best at their position from all teams in a league. Now with all of the 4 major all-star games in the U.S and Canada, normally the game is a glorified exhibition where the players are there to have fun for the enjoyment of the fan who probably spent too much for the tickets. At least for the money, the fans should see something that is similar to an actual game. Take the Pro Bowl for example. The game means nothing, and most of the players don't want to get hurt, but an outward showing of effort would be nice. In the NHL All-Star game, I laughed when Marc-Andre Fleury let in 4 goals early on in the game, when the night before he was dominating in the Elimination Shootout. Does the effort by these players justify the hype surrounding the game? No, and most normally ideas to spice up these games fall flat, as evidenced by Bud Selig putting meaning to the Midsummer Classic. So, what is the true meaning of an All-Star game?
Maybe the meaning is for the players to have fun, and enjoy themselves. Sure that sounds nice in principle, but what happens when the players stop playing and the effort wasn't there? If I was paying hundreds to thousands of dollars to watch people stand around, I'd go to a political convention. So, what about putting the best from America and Canada against the best of the rest of the world? MLS does that, but that only works when America and Canada are not the premier destination. And finally what about for the owners and comissioner? This All-Star game idea is a real gold mine. It would matter more if people could watch the game, as 2 of the All-Star games are not on OTA TV. But here is the real reason why this game means nothing. It isn't a centerpiece event.
The Sports hype machine doesn't hype up All-Star games like they do major matchups in any sport. You may see more leadup to a Yankees/Red Sox game in May than you would for the All Star game. Jets/Patriots was hyped much more than the Pro Bowl. The NHL has the Winter Classic, which is now the midseason major event, not the All Star Game, which had been left for dead until Raleigh saved it. So, without the hype, do you think the fans, or the players will care as much? No, not as long as the game is a glorified exhibition. But, this game means something to the many fans who paid thousands of dollars to see the game live, instead of on their couches.
The game is for the fans, and their entertainment. It's to show off a city to the rest of the country, like Raleigh or Phoenix. It's to give the rabid football fans of Hawaii a chance to see a live pro football game with out flying 8+ hours to the mainland. The fans want to see their favorite players on the same field, or sheet of ice, or court for 1 night. The All-Star games meant more back in the time where players outside of your own team were harder to see nightly. Now, the games meaning is diluted. But the fans still come back. The meaning of an All-Star game is so that the fans can be entertained, and that the players can bring that to the fans, even if the same players are sent every single year. These games will never meet up with the hype that may be brought upon other regular season games, and as long as the game is not close to a real representation of the particular sport that will continue. All-Star games should just be fun times where the tension of a season eases for 3 days, and the fans can enjoy themselves too. Effort is relative, and as long as these games have no real meaning in a season (cough cough Bud Selig), the games are just fun to see. No matter what changes are made to spice up the game, it's still an exhibition for the fans.
And honestly, that's all the All-Star game should be.