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(Steve Nesius / The Associated Press)

Which All-Star game shines brightest?

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All-Star season is upon us. It’s the time of year when sports fans get together and celebrate the proud North American tradition of watching the top stars of our favourite sports face each other to determine not that much. However, not all four major league sports are created equal: Due to their unique formats, some All-Star games are far more entertaining than others.

 

  1. NFL

American football is a perfectly fun sport to watch, but let’s face it—the Pro Bowl isn’t. The game takes place the week before the Super Bowl, so stars like Tom Brady are preoccupied with bigger things, and those who aren’t playing are already on holiday. Though there is now a relatively-small monetary prize, there is otherwise no major incentive for either team to win. In such a contact-heavy sport, players don’t want to go all-out against each other when there isn’t much on the line. All together, these factors contribute to a bland final product.

 

  1. NBA

The NBA All-Star Weekend, and its entertaining set of skills competitions, just misses second place. With much of each event centred around the stars themselves, the league gets to display the players’ creativity.

The game itself is filled with a continuous highlight reel of flashy passes and spectacular dunks at the cost of any semblance of defence, so some fans enjoy it much more than others. This season, the NBA switched to a player draft format similar to what the NHL used to have. However, the NBA did not televise the event, a sore point among fans. The dunk and three-point contests have gotten somewhat tired over the years, and with players’ personalities coming to the forefront, performances—like the Shaq-lemore stunt of 2014—can become draining.

 

  1. NHL

An event of many faces, the NHL All-Star Weekend has historically pitted the league’s two conferences against each other, including a short stretch where two players were selected as captains and would draft teams from the All-Star pool in a televised event. The current format, however, is the most unique of all four leagues. A 10-player team is selected to represent each of the four divisions. Instead of one full-length game, the stars play three short tournament matches for a monetary prize. These feature three-on-three hockey instead of the standard five-a-side, which supposedly elevates the excitement. However, the game itself often lacks hitting and defence—two of the sport’s most entertaining elements.

The skills competition is well worth watching. Players compete in a number of events, such as hardest shot and fastest skater, giving fans a spectacle unlike in any the other league.

 

  1. MLB

The MLB All-Star break boasts perhaps the best skill competition, where the Home Run Derby encourages baseball’s biggest sluggers to pound as many balls as possible into space. Whoever hits the most home runs wins, while players can earn extra points for distance, which provides fans with constant entertainment value.

Baseball doesn’t require a team to have perfect chemistry, so players can provide a worthy product without any prior experience with their teammates. Furthermore, although the MLB no longer uses decides home-field advantage with the All-Star Game, the game’s quality drops off less from its typical product than in the other sports. The MLB doesn’t have to rely on gimmicks or odd formats to make its game entertaining.

 

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the MLB All-Star Game still determined World Series home-field advantage. In fact, the MLB started using regular season records to determine home-field advantage in 2017. The Tribune regrets this error.

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