We speak of the All Star/Pro Bowl games.
Taking the game of basketball to a new level, the NBA All Star game this past weekend came up with a pseudo-hybird contest of the schoolyard game H-O-R-S-E with a dollop of baseball.
Much of this new stuff came in the fourth-quarter period, which, unlike the organized, regular hoops game, was untimed. One team had to score 24 or more points in the third quarter in order to win.
If the cumulative score of the first three quarters was 100-95, the “Final Target Score” would be set at 124 points. The team with 95 points would need to score 29 points, the leading team scoring 24 points -- 24 being the number worn by the late Kobe Bryant.
And with the fourth quarter untimed, that meant the game ends with a winning basket -- kind of like a walk-off home run in baseball -- which is an untimed sport.
Hard to follow? Heighten drama? Complicated, perhaps even to the players? Well remember, it’s all about entertainment.
In recent years, professional sports leagues look to mix up the action to show off their top athletes in one big contest.
Some years ago, Major League Baseball made an interesting move for its All Star event between the American and National League, giving the winning league home field advantage for the upcoming World Series. That ended in 2016. Home-field advantage is now awarded to the World Series team having the better regular season record.
Also to inspire consumers interest, NFL’s Pro Bowl -- which in the past was played after the Super Bowl -- is now run the week before the Super Bowl, hopefully to entice still in-market TV football viewers.
Like the NBA All-Star game, the Pro Bowl has a number of rules that differ from regular season play. Additionally, NFL players, to avoid injuries, don’t do much if any real tackling. Is that a good thing, entertainment-wise?
Starting in 2015, the NHL All Star game also shifted its interleague competition game dramatically, having four All-Star teams, based on the league's four divisions, compete in a single-elimination tournament.
Sports leagues continue to include skills competitions, such as the popular NBA dunk and three-point contests. Major League Baseball has its popular Home Run Derby.
All this comes as TV ratings for all-star events remain weaker, no different from other TV programs.
Still, marketing events are a major attraction. The NBA, for example, has close to 20 different sponsored events. TNT reports selling out all its TV commercial inventory for the All-Star game at its earliest date ever.
With fewer big-rated live events -- sports and otherwise -- expect more ways to entertain sports viewers in upcoming events, as well as efforts to charm marketers’ advertising/sponsor dollars.