Over the last century, the world of professional sports has changed dramatically. Television, sponsorship, and merchandising have created a multi-billion dollar industry and produced an incredible spectacle for fans the world over.
Different sports have experimented with ways of adding excitement, such as the NBA introducing the shot clock in 1954 and the XFL experimenting with shootout overtime.
Another popular tool used by some sports leagues is an all-star game. In basketball, this is an exhibition match that has run since 1951 and sees 24 of the best players from the league compete under standard NBA rules. Without the pressure of the game affecting the outcome of the league, players are free to attempt entertaining maneuvers like alley-oops and slam dunks. It’s also a chance for fans to see all of the greatest talents in the league playing together in a single game.
Aside from the game itself, the build-up to it can also help to increase fan engagement in the league. The NBA and other leagues ask fans to take part in the selection process by voting on the players they want to appear.
While most other US leagues also host an all-star game, including the NFL, MLS, MLB, and NHL, the concept is rarer elsewhere in the world. Yet, it could be something that other sports could benefit from.
In Formula 1, the focus on the individual performer is much more prominent than in team sports like basketball. However, the car and its maintenance can also have a significant effect on the outcome of the race too.
The sport was recently bought by the US investment company Liberty Media. Since their acquisition, the sport has begun making changes that it hopes to make races more exciting. One of the biggest changes will be new rules that will drastically change the design of Formula 1 cars in 2022, with the intention of making it easier for drivers to overtake each other.
In 2020, some of the sport’s drivers from past and present took part in esports competitions. This included names like Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, and Lando Norris as well as former drivers like Jenson Button, Juan Pablo Montoya, and the 74-year-old Emerson Fittipaldi.
This meant drivers from different generations could compete together, finally settling the long-held debates of which one is better.
The popularity of the esports events among fans shows that there is demand for other all-star events, particularly ones that bit retired drivers against retired ones. It’s more difficult to organize than a basketball game, so this may mean we’ll never get to see something like this happen.
Like Formula 1, poker is a sport that focuses mostly on individuals. And nowadays, it’s more accessible than just about any other sport in the world since it can be played through online sites and mobile apps. Beginners have a wealth of resources available to them that allow them to learn the basics of the game and hone their skills for free before entering real money games high stakes games.
The biggest event in poker is the World Series of Poker, an annual tournament that has been run in Las Vegas since 1970. Some of the most successful winners, such as Doyle Brunson and Erik Seidel have won multiple times and because poker doesn’t require physical exertion like other sports, players can compete well into the latter half of their lives.
This means the WSOP has many characteristics of an all-star game, but some of the best players don’t compete together at the same time, so bringing them together at one table could attract a lot of fans.
The North American MLS already hosts an all-star game, but leagues in Europe don’t. The biggest football league in the world, the English Premier League could benefit from an all-star game, as could other leading club competitions in Europe, such as the Bundesliga and La Liga.
Like in the US, a Premier League all-star game would create a lot of buzz with England’s biggest names competing together on the same pitch. It would likely also result in significantly higher television viewing figures since fans from all clubs would be tuning in together.
An all-star game is probably unlikely in England or elsewhere in Europe though as fixture congestion is already a problem and there would be many critics who’d criticise it for being too much of a gimmick.
Despite these criticisms, all three of these sports would benefit greatly from hosting an all-star event of some sort.