Some county offices may be moved G’town Council approves 2017 budget Family doubles in size with adoption Sardinia Mayor looks forward to 2017 2017 Fayetteville Firemen’s Festival set Floyd Newberry Jr Donna F Lang Gene Warren Dwight L Fulton Virginia A O’Neil Anne L Durbin-Thomas Marietta Dunn Charles L Latchford Broncos win ‘Battle of 32’ Lady Broncos claim win over Bethel-Tate Jays top Warriors, fall to Mustangs Lady Warriors claim top spot in SHAC with win over Lynchburg-Clay Broncos buck the Lions, 54-51 James N DeHaas Questions still linger in Stuart explosion New direction for Brittany Stykes case New public safety director now on duty in Brown Co. Fayetteville Mayor anticipates a good year for the village Chamber of Commerce announces awardees Robert Bechdolt Carl E Lindsey Audrey F Maher LeJeune Howser Tammy L Connor Henry C Mayhall Jr Chad Spilker Frank W Kemmeter Jr Wanda J Howard Dorothy Huff Colon C Malott Eastern varsity teams come out on top to capture Brown County Holiday Classic crowns WBHS Army JROTC hosts rifle shooting competition Bronco varsity wrestling team unbeaten at 8-0 Blue Jays finish 1-1 in Ripley Pepsi Classic Mona G Van Vooren Hiram Beardsworth Avery W McCleese Ethel E Long Children learn safety from ‘Officer Phil’ Microchips can help locate lost pets Local GOP plans trip to Washington Three sentenced in common pleas Estel Earhart Roy Stewart Tenacious ‘D’ leads Lady Jays to victory over Blanchester on day one of Ripley Pepsi Classic Fayetteville’s Thompson, Jester earn SWOFCA All-City honors Jays fall to Blanchester on first day of Pepsi Classic Ticket details announced for OHSAA basketball and wrestling state tournaments Jerri K McKenzie Randy D Vaughn Georgetown JR/SR high to have new library Georgetown saw many improvements in 2016 Three sentenced in common pleas court Esther O Brown G-Men go on scoring rampage for 77-41 win over Cardinals Warriors climb to 4-2 with wins over West Union, Lynchburg Rockets top Whiteoak for first win Shirley M Bray Carter Lumber closes in G’town Wenstrup looks forward to 2017 Seven indicted by county grand jury John Ruthven holds pre-Christmas Open House New pet boarding facility now open in Georgetown Denver W Emmons Carl W Liebig Mary L McKinley Blake C Roush Louis A Koewler William D Cornetet Western Brown dedicates Perry Ogden Court Lady Warrior win streak hits 5 Lady Rockets wrap up tough week on the hardwood Barons rally for win over Broncos Georgetown to hire two paid Firefighter/EMT’s Noble receives statewide law enforcement award County helps family in need after house fire Flashing signs banned in G’town historic district ‘Christmas Extravaganza’ at Gaslight Thelma L Ernst Roy L Bruce Ken Leimberger Cathye J Bunthoff Lending a holiday helping hand G’Town Christmas Parade enjoyed by spectators Mt. Orab Auto Mall collects over 1,100 canned goods for local families “Celebration of Lights” held at fairgrounds Thirteen indicted by grand jury Lady Warriors hit the hardwood with high expectations Warriors reload after graduating four starters Six seniors hit the hardwood for Rockets Lady Rockets packed with size, talent Lady G-Men to rely heavily on young talent G-Men seek improvement after last year’s three-win season Skilled crew on the return for the Blue Jays Broncos begin quest for SBAAC American Div. crown

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