Doing anything with your life is infinitely more productive than watching the Pro Bowl. Yet for reasons that define all logic, millions of you will watch a game of flag football tonight.
Specifically, a conservative guess is that at least 10 million people will be unable to resist the otherworldly magnetic pull of the NFL, and you’ll tune in this evening. Last year NBC’s broadcast averaged 12.5 million viewers, which is a number we heard repeatedly the next morning, right next to other fun facts like, say, the 2012 Pro Bowl getting more viewers than the World Series a few months earlier.
That’s an insult to all of humankind.
Of course, what we didn’t hear nearly as often is that despite the girth of that overall number during a game which led to Roger Goodell quite rightfully flirting with the idea of axing the Pro Bowl entirely, the ratings still took an 8.1 percent dip.
Ratings don’t reflect the quality of the game. Instead, with the Pro Bowl they’re a measure of the NFL’s dominance over the North American sporting landscape. As we enter a week in which New Orleans will be overtaken by insanity in various forms and otherwise sane-minded folk will actually pay money to sit in the stands during media day, it’s clear that Goodell could have Colin Kaepernick stare into a camera for an hour and say nothing, and people would watch. And LOVE it.
So yes, tonight’s ratings will merely reflect an addiction, and this is the one day of the year when said addiction makes us — the NFL-loving public — do something truly unhealthy. To be clear, every pro sports all-star game sucks, but the NFL’s attempt fails spectacularly because the sport ceases to be even a shadow of itself without defense. There’s minimal defense played in the NHL and NBA all-star games too, but the basic, core skills needed to hit a jumper or deke a goalie remain. When football is stripped of defense, nothing can be taken seriously.
We have to end the Pro Bowl, and the only way it will stop existing in our lives is if we simply don’t watch. You could just not watch TV at all tonight, and, I dunno, make a lovely candlelight dinner for your significant other. Since that’s not happening, here’s a list of programming this evening that will provide much more entertainment than anything happening in Hawaii.
Storage Wars, Texas (A&E, 7:00 p.m. ET): This is smack in the middle of a Storage Wars marathon that starts at 5 p.m. and ends at midnight. So basically, it’s just your standard evening of visual stimulation provided by the good folks at A&E.
Roseanne (TVLand, 7:00 p.m. ET): Uh oh. Becky and Mark are coming home for Dan’s football team reunion, and Roseanne smells trouble. Hey look, football.
Johnny Test (Teletoon, 7:30 p.m. ET): Wait. There’s a kid with a rocket pack and a TALKING DOG?
The Last Airbender (Nickelodeon, 8:30 p.m. ET): If talking dogs aren’t your style, then surely I can interest you in a fire-breathing dragon, yes?
Grandma’s Boy (Comedy Central, 8:00 p.m. ET): And our search ends. If you turn down the opportunity to watch or re-watch a cinematic classic that re-defined the stoner genre, I question your priorities in life.
Honorable mentions go to Spongebob Squarepants (Nickelodeon, 7:30), and the Hardcore Pawn marathon on TruTV.