Pro[fessional] Bowl[ing]


  • Ken Durden /
Instead of suffering through three hours of what the NFL offers up as their version of an all star game — The Pro Bowl — I’d rather watch another “pro bowl,” professional bowling. The slow, thunderous rumble of a three-holed ball as it careens towards the pins, the signature crack of a strike and the empty sound of the gutters carry more emotion and hold my interest in a way that the NFL’s end-of-season exercise in self-deprecation ever could.

The NFL Pro Bowl has been the victim of some pretty substantial ribbing over the years. The complaints have largely been associated with the notion that it’s difficult to play a sport that’s overwhelmingly contact-dependent when the outcome of the game is meaningless. Furthermore, it’s difficult to get fans to watch a game that’s so diluted and removed from the intensity it typically provides.

The NFL faces legitimate challenges when trying to sell the Pro Bowl to the public. But with the unlimited resources it seems the league has at its disposal, the attempts to drum up interest seem feeble at best.

Currently, for instance, the game comes down to two retired team captains drafting players to their respective rosters like a playground game of kick-ball. The players then dress in uniforms looking like they’ve been designed primarily for playing laser-tag, and facing the pesky what-do-we-do-when-it’s-time-to-tackle scenario. The league is certainly making the game different, but whether or not it’s getting better is still up for debate.

Baseball, basketball and even hockey are simply better suited for an all-star game than football. All three can revert to a version of themselves that depends more on speed, agility and creativity than it does contact. Hockey players can avoid checking one another for one evening and still play a competitive, albeit high-scoring, game for the fans. If a wide receiver is trotting down the sidelines on his way to the end zone and a defender lets up at the last moment on the hit and gives him a gentle shove instead of a powerful thwack, well, then it just doesn’t seem like football anymore.

If I were stranded in a waiting room somewhere, drinking stale coffee and trying to occupy my brain while my tires were being rotated, and the keeper of the too-high-up television walked in and announced that they only had two channels available, one of which being third-quarter action from the NFL Pro Bowl and the other being seventh-frame drama from the Professional Bowlers Association, give me the bowling. I’d rather watch a non-contact sporting event with an outcome that weighs heavily on the contenders than I would a bunch of premier athletes jogging around and not giving a rip, ten out of ten times.

I think it’s fair to say that I’m not alone.

Nic R. Krause was born a cranky, curmudgeon of a child in a Minnesota suburb. He was plucked from the muggy tundra and relocated to Colorado Springs 22 years ago. From intramural jai-alai, to his complicated relationship with the Minnesota Vikings, Nic, plainly stated, is bonkers for sports. Follow him on Twitter @NicRKrause.

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