The Student News Site of Souderton Area High School

The Arrowhead

The Arrowhead

The Student News Site of Souderton Area High School

The Arrowhead

The Student News Site of Souderton Area High School

The Arrowhead

The Arrowhead

High Horse: Flag football retracts excitement from Pro Bowl

A steady decrease in television viewership highlights the decreasing interest in the Pro Bowl. What used to be a game played by the league’s best players has become a skills tournament that includes dodgeball, passing games and flag football.

The lack of actual football in the rebranded “Pro Bowl Games” has caused a decrease in interest from sports fans in the United States. This past year has drawn even lower viewership than the past few years.

According to the Sports Business Journal, the viewership from the 2023 Pro Bowl is the lowest it has been since 2006.

The Pro Bowl drew just under six million viewers this year, and was the second year that the NFL hosted a seven-on-seven flag football game, as opposed to the full contact game they had hosted since the Pro Bowl’s creation. 

The new Pro Bowl has become a weekend of skill challenges and mini games where the two conferences compete for points, culminating in a flag football game instead of a tackle game.

Many traditional football fans do not approve of the shift in the Pro Bowl Games. After all, the Pro Bowl is supposed to be a competition between the league’s best players, so why would we want to see them play dodgeball or flag football, and not the sport that they are being honored for?

The new Pro Bowl takes away the excitement of watching football, and replaces it with a two-day schedule of short and largely uninteresting activities.

While the flag football game can be interesting, it is nothing compared to actual football. It lacks the speed, power and big-play potential that comes with tackle football, detracting from the viewing experience.

The NFL decided to remove the tackle football game due to the risk of injury in a technically meaningless game.

While this is a valid concern, there are very few examples of serious injury during the Pro Bowl. The worst example is tight end Tyler Eifert’s ankle injury during the game in 2015 that required surgery and caused him to miss half of the next season. 

People in favor of removing the tackle element of the Pro Bowl often point out injuries like this, along with Patriots running back Robert Edwards, who blew out his knee, effectively ending his career after his rookie season. It is important to note, however, that his knee was injured during a flag football game in Hawaii during Pro Bowl weekend, not during the game itself.

As for flag football and the new skills challenges, the potential for injury is not necessarily gone. In 2023, Browns edge rusher Myles Garrett dislocated his toe during the skills “gridiron.”

Clearly, the change in activities has not reduced the likelihood of injuries, it has simply changed where they will come from.

This past Pro Bowl included an obstacle course for offensive and defensive lineman that included lifting and crawling under extremely heavy gates, sliding over and crawling under tables, and full sprints on an artificial turf. All of these obstacles have a level of inherent risk of injury, but lack the excitement of a game of real football.

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Jacob Godshall
Jacob Godshall, Opinion Editor

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