Since 1951, the NBA has invited the top talents around the league to participate in their annual All-Star game. Despite being once vastly popular among fans, the All-Star game has lost its sense of purpose over the last few years.
With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there is even more reason to postpone the event. Instead of an NFL Pro Bowl, the league took initiative and promoted Madden 21 and hosted a virtual game. Still, the NBA has not adapted to this point. Once viewed as one of the most proactive leagues across the sports world for their efforts to display the NBA Playoffs in a ‘bubble’, we wonder why they haven’t remained adaptive in this case.
Fans Losing Interest, Ratings Show
Over the last 20 years, there has been a significant drop in viewership. During the 2019 season, the league’s 6.8 million viewers appeared to be a 11% drop from the season prior. Their 3.8 rating matched the lowest in league history, along with the games played in 2008 and 2010.
The NBA has seen an ongoing issue when it comes to general viewership over the last few seasons, but the All-Star game has been particularly difficult to watch. While certain contests such as the three-point and slam dunk contest can appeal to a younger audience, there have been respective issues in those departments as well.
Star Players Not Interested
Even if there was a market demand for the All-Star game, wouldn’t you want the players competing at somewhat of a high level? Based on recent reports, we have already seen superstars such as LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Giannis Anteokounmpo call out the league for planning the game as scheduled.
The All-Star game has never been an all-out competition to begin with, but even younger players have similar thoughts. Sacramento Kings’ De’Aaron Fox, who has never appeared in an NBA All-Star game before, is among players who disagrees with the league’s decision.
“If we have to wear masks and do all this for a regular game, what’s the point of bringing the NBA All-Star Game back?” Fox said. “But obviously money makes the world go round so it is what it is. I’m not really worried about, if I’m voted in, so be it.”
Critics will argue that the players are paid millions, so one extra game can’t hurt. As a counterpoint, we have to remember that the purpose of regular seasons for all sports leagues is to appeal to fans in return for their revenue. The NBA had an 8.7% positivity rate before the start of the regular season, so jumping through unnecessary hoops for an extra cash grab just isn’t worth it; especially when there is a broken formula in appealing to various demographics.