I saw a post on another blog linking to the voting page for the NBA All-Star Game. I could not tell you the last time I voted for an All-Star game in any of the major sports let alone watched one from start to finish. Here are a few ideas to get fans engaged. Hey, this might even get non-fans to watch the game.
Start Voting Later
Generally voting for the All-Star game starts too early. The NBA All-Star voting has already started and they have not played 10 games. Voting should start at the halfway point from the beginning of the season to the All-Star Break. For the NBA this would be right around the 20 game mark, for the MLB the 40 game mark, and in the NFL it wouldn't start until week 11 or 12 because the playoffs need to be factored in.
Let Players and Coaches Vote
The All-Star games are supposed to be a popularity contest. Unfortunately, this keeps some of the best talent in the games out of the league’s talent showcase. Instead of having coaches choose just 1 or 2 players, let every player and every coach on each team cast a ballot. These ballots should be weighed more than fan’s ballots. Players are better judges of talent then fans, allowing them a say would allow fans to see the best players and give name recognition to deserving players that otherwise may be overlooked.
Change Up the Opponents
Get rid of East/West, North America/World, AL/NL, and AFC/NFC. Do something unique every year. U.S.A. vs. the World, Teams who made the playoffs vs. those that did not, players from high payroll teams vs. players from low payroll teams, animal mascots vs. others, the possibilities are endless.
Let the Fans Coach
How many more people would watch if they could vote for coaching decisions? This would the most fun for football but other sports could join in the fun. How cool would it be if you could vote for Manny Ramirez attempting a suicide squeeze in the 7th inning. We have the technology for instant responses from an online audience, this would not be that hard to implement.
Shorten the Games/Change the Rules
Why do the All-Star games have to follow the regular season game format? The Pro-Bowl should have 8-minute quarters and start every drive with a 1st and 5. The MLB All-Star game should start each inning with one out already on the scoreboard. The NBA should eliminate traveling or add a four-point line. No one tunes into an All-Star game to cheer for a team, they tune in to be entertained, make it entertaining.
Vote for the Score
Why isn’t a 450-foot home run worth more than one run? Let the fans in attendance vote within 30 seconds of a play happening for the score a play deserves. LeBron James makes a miraculous shot from behind the backboard; he gets 5 points. Adrian Peterson walks into the end zone in behind his O-Line; reward him with 4 points.
I know none of these will ever happen; the leagues worry too much about tradition and playing it safe. Still, with attendance and television ratings lagging, would it hurt to make the one meaningless game people watch fun?