There are very few things you can count on in life. However, for over 3 decades one thing you cold count on was the NFL Pro Bowl being played in Hawaii every year. Now, even that looks like it may be coming to an end, as the NFL will more than likely suspend the Pro Bowl for 2013, and then make a decision on the future of the game after that.
In fairness to the NFL, the game itself has become somewhat of a running joke, as players are not really in Hawaii for the game, but for all of the extra curricular activities that Hawaii offers. What extra curricular activities do players enjoy most? Well, that depends on the player, and digging into that is really for another article. The fact of the matter is this: The players don’t play hard, the game is a joke, and even though it is still the highest rated sports program on during Pro Bowl weekend, the overall gig is not a real money maker anymore.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has expressed concerns about the quality of play, and the league is holding talks with the players’ union about the future of the Pro Bowl game. The people were speaking on condition of anonymity because the NFL has not made the discussions public. While no one has come directly out and said that the Pro Bowl will be suspended in 2013, it is more than likely going to happen; at least for that year.
Now, here is where Hawaii loses in all this. Whether or not the game is suspended in 2013 or not has no bearing on the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, as the game was not scheduled to be played here next year. However, beyond that Hawaii has a huge interest in keeping the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, should the NFL make the choice to continue the game.
While the game itself may not be a huge moneymaker anymore, the money that the overall Pro Bowl festivities brings Hawaii every year is substantial. The Hawaii Tourism Industry understands this well, and that is why they are one of the companies heading up the campaign to keep the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. The weekly Pro Bowl festivities in Hawaii are worth several hundred million to the state. This money comes from all of the activities and spending that happens during Pro Bowl week. You can see why Hawaii is pushing to keep the game.
(Hawaii Tourism Authority President Mike McCartney said talks continued today with the NFL about holding next year’s Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
“We want the game in Hawaii,” McCartney said this morning. “We’re negotiating in good faith.” McCartney said suspending the Pro Bowl next year “has always been a possibility.”
But he said the state would want to continue a partnership with the NFL even if the Pro Bowl is suspended or eliminated. “There’s no question Hawaii wants to continue its partnership with the NFL in different ways.”
The AFC’s 59-41 win in Honolulu in January often resembled touch football. The game still gets solid TV ratings — although viewership dropped 8.1 percent in January, the Pro Bowl still was the highest-rated sports program of the weekend.
But it’s also costly, particularly when played in Hawaii. And with so many defections — there were 20 replacements for non-participating players in 2012, including Pro Bowlers from the Giants and Patriots who were otherwise occupied with the Super Bowl — is the game still considered something special by the players?
The fact of the matter is that Hawaii fans booed the Pro Bowl heavily in January because of player effort. Players were embarrassed, and so was the league as a whole. The NFL has also stated concerns that Aloha Stadium is very old and not really up to NFL Football standards. While this is a fair statement, it really isn’t the main driving force behind cancelling the Pro Bowl or doing away with it all together.
What happens remains to be seen. Hawaii wants the game back here and the Hawaii Tourism Authority needs the game back here. However, right now it doesn’t look good. We will see what develops over the next few months.
On a quick side note: If the NFL were to do away with the Pro Bowl game, they would still recognize Pro Bowl players and then celebrate the honor for the players in a different way.