NFL Pro Bowl – Effort

The NFL Pro Bowl was a sorry affair according to all who saw it. The idea I want to explore today is exactly what sort of effort was required from the players to make it an entertaining event and how this sort of obligation effects our own lives.

Let’s look at some of the reasons the players would choose not to play hard.

  1. Professional Football is a particularly violent sport and injuries are common.
  2. The game has no effect on the standings of the teams.
  3. Football is a team sport and the players are unfamiliar with one another and have had little time to practice.

I think we can all see the power of the first argument and the fact that players don’t want to risk career ending injuries in a game of this nature. The baseball All Star game fell prey to this same malaise, so much so that a new rule was created to enliven the game. The NHL All Star game has long been a showcase for offense with defense taking a back seat and the normal fierce body checking all but eliminated.  The NBA All Star game is such that pregame events are more exciting than the game itself.

The other two arguments resonate with me as well and I do see good reason to, at least, play a bit more easily and let the offensive stars showcase their talent.

Now let’s see what motivations the players have to play hard football.

  1. It’s entertaining for the fans.
  2. Professional pride in doing their job.

The first argument is a tough one to nail down because not all fans are entertained by the same thing. Some fans love a defensive struggle while others like an high scoring, high flying game. It’s fair to say that most fans came away from this year’s Pro Bowl feeling dissatisfied.

I think it is also accurate that interest in the various All Star game has declined, probably because of the exposure the players get on multiple media outlets. Twenty years ago All Star games were a chance for people to see the stars of other teams for the first time. Now, we can see them pretty much as often as we desire.

Professional pride is an interesting argument as well. I’m all about professional pride but when the outcome of my efforts make no difference, or very little difference, it does become hard to put forward maximum effort. I think the world would be a better place if we all gave it our best but it is unrealistic to expect people to work their hardest under every circumstance.

I suppose, in conclusion, the lesson to be learned is that when the value of an event is reduced it is only natural to expect  people to put forward less effort and there are probably few artificial ways around this fact. We can try to assign value to something but people generally see through such subterfuge.

If you want people to put forward their best effort then there has to be good reason for them to want to do so. This goes for business projects, school, sport, and most aspects of life.

So get out there and give people good reason to shine and you might be surprised by the result.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist

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