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NFL considers eliminating Pro Bowl due to flagging viewership

The National Football League is thinking of ways to spice up Pro Bowl week, and one option they are considering is removing the showcase game itself.

Gidget Alikpala
Pro Bowl
Alex Menendez

In an effort to stimulate interest in Pro Bowl week, the NFL is considering eliminating the all-star game that is the event’s centerpiece.

The Pro Bowl has been played every year since 1950 except for pandemic-plagued 2020. Fans used to be interested in the game in its early days, but viewership has significantly declined in recent years. From a high of more than 13 million viewers in 2011, the audience has plummeted to less than seven million watching the game in 2022.

An exercise in futility

The NFL has tried to jazz up the Pro Bowl by making rule changes and shuttling the arena from one exotic venue to another (Hawaii to Florida to Las Vegas), but these steps have apparently not had a lot of impact.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has taken note and realizes that the league needs to take steps to rectify the situation.

“The game doesn’t work. We need to find another way to celebrate the players,” he said.

Pro Bowl’s lack of competitiveness

The Pro Bowl has long been criticized for being a low-stakes, half-hearted game that doesn’t inspire the players to fully participate because of their fear of being injured. Some of those chosen to be part of the all-star teams prefer to skip the event.

Aside from the athletes generally trying to avoid getting unnecessarily hurt, those who are playing at the Super Bowl particularly want to stay away from action as the Pro Bowl takes place shortly before the championship.

Options that are being considered include a flag-football-type of competition, or a different kind of skills contest altogether.


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