Western Brown youth basketball camps a success Leto to represent Team USA in Australia Broncos hard at work in preparation for fall season Eastern approves bowling team Phyllis Ruth Lois A Manley Eddie L Carr Thomas L Carnahan Cameron Barkley Walter J McGee Gary J Graham George D Johnson Walter F Crawford Jr Charles E Meranda Jr Corbin testifies before Ohio Senate Five arrested in Hamersville drug bust Neil Diamond tribute band coming Hyde finds home at Midway Youngsters work to improve on hoop skills at Eastern basketball camps Sizer named All-District Honorable Mention Western Brown’s Barnes earns All-State, All-District honors Local players compete in SWOFCA Ron Woyan East/West All-Star Game 6th annual Ravye Williams Memorial 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament set for June 24 Clarence E Teal Rosie B Poe Monard C Boots James P Conrad James T Dinser Scott J Swearingen Eastern’s Farris earns award for top 2-point field percentage in Ohio Georgetown’s Seigla earns All-District honors OHSAA announces 2017 football regions and playoffs format Western Brown volleyball camps a success with over 100 in attendance Rigdon finishes high school running career with 10th place finish at state track and field championship meet Grace E Fite Women return to county jail as funds start to run low Georgetown Council takes action on vacant structures Veterans honored in Mt. Orab John McGee Timmy Burson Patricia A London Mary J Hall Kenneth R Behymer Western Brown’s Joe Sams commits to Marietta College WBHS to hold girls youth basketball camp Huseman signs with UC Clermont Day to continue baseball career on collegiate level at UC Clermont Western’s Pack signs with NKU WBHS to host youth boys basketball camp Eastern’s Rigdon, Hopkins are STATE BOUND James Ratliff Robert P Lesko Armstrong sentenced to twenty years on child porn possession charges Russellville hires new Village Clerk Russellville Council approves purchase of two ambulances FP School Board changes millage funding formula Thirteen charged by Brown Co. Grand Jury Local athletes advance to track and field regionals SBAAC awards baseball, softball, boys track and field First Team all-stars SHAC awards baseball all-stars Lady Broncos finish as SW District Div. II runner-up Lady Warriors cap off season as SE District Div. III runner-up Impressive post-season tourney run reaches end for Lady Rockets Rose M Crone Thousands visit Traveling Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall Strategies discussed to join Maysville/Mason County KY with Brown Co. communities for economic growth Road and bridge work planned in county Linda M Lawson Margaret G Newkirk Gregory R Dunn Sandra L Haitz Wesley A Cooper Everette F Donell Lady Broncos move to SW District Div. II finals Lady Rockets top Cincy Christian 22-1 to earn berth in district finals Lady Warriors head to SE District Div. III finals with win over Gallia SW District Track and Field Tourney action gets underway Russell E Conn Robert T Fisher Philip L Paeltz David Beals Gregory A Smith II William G Mullinnix Patricia Ogden Brittany Stykes remembered by friends and family 2018 county budget could be cut by up to ten percent Georgetown Police Chief updates council Over 40 vendors, crafters at 2017 Annual Craft Show Cropper’s time as GHS girls basketball coach expected to end after 21 years at the helm Barnes’ perfect game and big hits lead Lady Broncos to round one sectional win Broncos advance in sectional play with win over Mt. Healthy Kenny B Williams Stephen E Marcum Christopher J Lovett Brandon M Traylor Gaslight renovations set to begin Ripley students view mock crash at school ‘Angela’s Curbside Cuisine’ taking area by storm Fisher sentenced to 17 years for child porn possession Fundraiser for Russellville 200th Celebration May 6

NFL’s Pro Bowl still needs work

If it weren’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t have known it was happening.

After the conference championship games last week but before the Super Bowl next Sunday, I was ready to take a little break from football. After all, it’s not like there was any game being played this weekend anyway, and I had the season finale of Galavant to watch.

However, I made the mistake of checking my Twitter account late Sunday night, and that’s when I realized there was one other football game left to be played: the Pro Bowl.

I never really watch the Pro Bowl on purpose. If I stumble upon it by accident and the score isn’t ridiculous, or if there are Bengals in key positions I could watch, then I’ll tune in for a while. I don’t make it appointment viewing.

Apparently, very few people do. The ratings for this year’s game, which aired on ESPN, were down from 2014. The 2014 ratings were down from 2013, when the game aired on NBC. This trend has been continuing for years now, and it’s easy to see why: the Pro Bowl is boring.

From 1970 to 2013, the game pitted the best of the AFC against the best from the NFC, and most of those games were tolerable. But something changed in the mid-2000s. Carson Palmer, then with the Bengals, led the AFC to a 31-28 victory in 2007. That’s a normal, competitive game score. The next year, the final score was 42-30. Two years after that it was 41-34, ending in the mockery that was the 62-35 game in 2012.

Even that game received higher ratings than the one that aired Sunday night. The NFL saw this, and decided to make some changes to the game in July 2013 in an attempt to reignite interest. They did away with the AFC/NFC format, switching to a fantasy draft with captains. They added a two-minute warning to the first and third quarters so fans could see teams run two-minute offenses. Also, kickoffs were eliminated, the play clock was shortened and zone coverage was allowed in all downs.

It appeared to have worked, at least on the field. For the first two years (2013 and 2014), the average margin of victory was 2.5 points, compared to 19 the prior four years. Yet the ratings still continued to decline. This year, ESPN’s broadcast of the Pro Bowl was watched by fewer people than FOX’s showing of the MLB All-Star Game and TNT’s broadcast of the NBA All-Star game.

Why? Speaking personally, I don’t want to watch defensive backs not play defense. They can’t play the same way they do in regular-season games because of the risk of injury, so they play softer. If I wanted to watch defensive backs try to play two-hand touch with wide receivers, I’d go back and watch a few of the Cincinnati Bearcats’ games from this past season.

There are other reasons the Pro Bowl is struggling. Even the NFL admitted that it wanted to stop the game back in 2014, but the Players Association wouldn’t let them, saying the players “loved and they want to be there.” Which is weird, since in 2015 28 players were selected to the game, but declined to play in it because of injuries, for example. This season, that number grew to 43. If the players don’t want to be there, why would fans want to watch?

If they’re going to play the game, which based on the fact that ESPN owns the rights to it through 2022, I’m going to assume they will, it may be time to make more changes.

Look at the NHL. The National Hockey League hosted it’s all-star game Sunday night as well. It received roughly one-fourth the ratings the Pro Bowl did, though to be fair, ESPN is in nearly 20 million more homes than NBCSN, the network that aired the NHL All-Star game. While that number is going down (reports say ESPN lost seven million subscribers since 2013), the Worldwide Leader clearly has an advantage there, but not in entertainment value.

The NHL’s game was actually fun. Part of that was because of a fan vote that elected John Scott, an enforcer with five career goals to his name, as captain of the Pacific Division team. While rumors persist that the NHL orchestrated a trade involving Scott with the intent of removing him from the game, in the end they let him play in the three-on-three tournament.

Scott actually scored two goals and was named the game’s MVP. If that weird story wasn’t enjoyable enough, the league held a skills competition the night before. The NFL used to have one, but in 2007 they stopped. The event wasn’t aired live and it didn’t even take place in the stadium. Instead, it took place at a field near the hotel.

Adding something like that would be a step in the right direction for the league, because it’s becoming clearer every year that the Pro Bowl simply isn’t enough to draw fans in. Something has to be done.

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By Garth Shanklin

gshanklin@civitasmedia.com

Reach Garth Shanklin at 937-378-6161 or follow him on Twitter at @GNDShanklin.

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2016 News Democrat