2012 NHL All-Star Game logo2012 NHL All-Star Game

2012 NHL All-Star Game: Reasons the Pro Bowl Trumps Hockey's Elite Game

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 08:  A detail of the official National Football League NFL logo is seen painted on the turf as the New York Giants host the Atlanta Falcons during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Andrew KulhaSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 29, 2012

If given the choice between watching the NFL Pro Bowl or the NHL All-Star Game, I firmly believe the average sports fan will pick the Pro Bowl nine times out of ten.

There is no denying that the NFL is king in the United States, and even though hockey is considered one of our four major sports, it pales in comparison to football.

Nobody even cares about the Pro Bowl—we all know that it's essentially a cool vacation for the players and a glorified seven-on-seven drill—yet that's exactly how irrelevant hockey still is in this country.

The average fan will tune into a game they don't even care about over a game they know nothing about.

Need a few reasons?

 

Who's Playing?

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 11: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers participates in warm-ups before a game against the Oakland Raiders at Lambeau Field on December 11, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

This may seem like a very simple point but I guarantee you it plays a huge factor in this argument.

Name recognition is an absolutely huge sticking point for the average sports fan, and this is where the Pro Bowl gets its biggest trump card over the NHL All Star Game.

I couldn't even tell you three players that are playing int the NHL All-Star Game without looking it up, and this is my job. Imagine what the average Joe sports fan knows about the game.

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 19:  Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings skates with the puck during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on January 19, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Red Wings defeated the Coyotes 3-2 in an overtime
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Who is even playing in the NHL All Star Game? Who is worth tuning in for and taking valuable time out of my day?

I couldn't give you enough names.

On the other side of the coin, though, is the Pro Bowl, featuring names that seemingly everybody knows. Unless you live under a rock, you've at least heard the names Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees and understand that they both did something very special this year.

Those two names alone will get people tuning in, but then you add in guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Arian Foster, Jared Allen, Clay Matthews, Ray Lewis and Darrelle Revis, and you get what I'm saying here.

That's just pointing out a few of the big names that will grace the Pro Bowl.

 

Action

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 18:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers at Reliant Stadium on December 18, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Like it or not, the average sports fan in the United States wants to see action. They want to see tons of scoring, tons of big plays and tons of fun.

This is precisely what the Pro Bowl is. Other than honoring the players, the Pro Bowl purely exists for big-time plays, highlights and allowing the players to have some fun after a grueling season.

Fans can tune in to the Pro Bowl with the chance to see possibly 100 points scored between the two teams.

Meanwhile, the NHL All-Star game may provide 20 goals?

I understand that is relatively a massive amount for a sport that generally doesn't see more than five or six in any given game, but you have to understand that even those numbers will subconsciously play a part.

 

Marketing

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 5:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Boston Bruins on December 5, 2011 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Unfortunately, this is something the NHL is still struggling with, even though they have gotten a ton better.

The NFL is king because the NFL is everywhere, so really you have to credit the league for that. They jam their stars down our throats, and they hype up even the smallest matchups like they will be the greatest games ever.

The NFL is genius when it comes to marketing their brand. The NHL, on the other hand, is still trying to sell us a handful of players.

They are far behind the eight ball with this, and this is the deciding factor.

Along with marketing comes television exposure. The NFL is everywhere at all times, while in most cases you have to search for the NHL.

Case in point: The Pro Bowl is on NBC, while the NHL All Star Game is on the NBC Sports Network—I'm still not sure what that officially is.

Frankly, this is the reason the other two points exists. We know NFL names and players because the league does such an incredible job of marketing those players. We know the Pro Bowl will bring a lot of fun and action because it has been marketed as so.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at the podium during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The NFL has turned itself into a year-round product. When the Super Bowl ends, the draft begins, and when the draft ends, free agency and training camps are soon on the horizon.

The NHL is having issues with marketing just during the time they are officially playing games, let alone offseason events.

 

Conclusion

The one good thing the NHL did do is put their All-Star game at 4 p.m. EST, which is before the Pro Bowl at 7 p.m. EST, so they might be able to catch some random fans coming in for an appetizer before the main course of the Pro Bowl.

Other than that, I fully expect the Pro Bowl to gain far superior ratings over the All-Star Game, even being at different times.

The average fan can choose to watch both, but frankly the average fan doesn't normally sit around watching meaningless games all day.

When given the choice, viewers will choose the Pro Bowl.

 

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