This weekend, I’m like a little kid stuck inside on a rainy day. I’m booorrred.

The bye week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl is always a challenge, as far as finding top notch sports entertainment goes. It’s all anticipation and bluster. It’s a week of idle chatter before a week of more idle chatter, but at least next week’s idle chatter ends with the Super Bowl.

College basketball is still in that it’s almost tournament time but not quite, so here’s some mildly interesting games to tide you over. The Boston Celtics had a game against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night (as I write this, tipoff is still hours away), and that game could be a preview of the NBA Finals. But it’s just a preview. What good is a preview if the movie is months away, if it comes out at all?

These days, the Super Bowl hype machine is powered up seconds after the conference championships are over. The two week break before the Super Bowl is good for one thing, getting players as healthy as possible for the biggest game of the season. Looking at you, Rob Gronkowski.

But Trav, the Pro Bowl is Sunday night. You can watch that.

Don’t insult me.

The Pro Bowl is not football. The Pro Bowl is a copy of a copy of a mimeograph of football. It’s as close to playing football as one can get without actually playing football. Players allow themselves to get tackled with the force of a stern warning.

Nobody wants to get hurt in the Pro Bowl, and it’s amazing the NFL still finds enough players willing to even go through the motions of the game. Nobody wants to get hurt in an all-star game. How would you feel if you lost a chance at life-changing money because your knee blew open like an overstuffed bag of garbage in a game that doesn’t count?

The New England Patriots have done a lot of smart things over the last 18 years, but one of the smartest was a few seasons ago, when they en masse declined invitations to play in the Pro Bowl.

It used to be, an invitation to the Pro Bowl came with a vacation to Hawaii. Now the NFL took that away. When I was young and didn’t know any better and watched the game, I always hoped a player would take the field wearing a lei. It seems like something John Riggins would’ve done.

If the NFL insists on going through the motions of an all-star event, it should eliminate the game. Make it a skills competition culminating with 7 on 7 games of two hand touch. That won’t eliminate the potential for injury, that comes with life, but at least it wouldn’t be pretending to be something it’s not.

While we’re talking about events masquerading as sports, let’s talk about the other all-star event this weekend, the NHL All-Star Game.

If you like watching the best goalies in the world get hung out to dry by lackluster defense, then the NHL All-Star Game is for you. Like the Pro Bowl, the NHL All-Star Game is played by athletes doing just enough to get by. Like their NFL counterparts, you can’t blame NHL players for this. Put on a show, and go back to your team in one piece, ready to play games that matter.

The current format of 3 on 3 mini-games makes the NHL All-Star Game a little more interesting, and the players seem to genuinely enjoy the skills competition Saturday night. Give the NHL credit for trying to make the event entertaining.

We have a week to go before they actually play the Super Bowl. Soon, the Patriots and Eagles will arrive in Minneapolis, and we fans can get down to some serious football talk. It begins with Super Bowl Media Day on Monday, where Tom Brady could get interviewed by a guy dressed as a giant banana.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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