Opinion: Fan voting for all-star games is a mistake


Credit: Joe Park

WSPN’s Brian Cohen argues that fan voting for all-star games is wrong.

Brian Cohen

The all-star game is a staple in three major North American sports (basketball, baseball and hockey). These all-star games pit the best of the best against each other, making for a game of epic proportions, or at least that’s how it should be.

All four of these all-star games have some sort of fan voting element. Only basketball relies entirely on fan voting. The NBA All-Star game players are decided by a fan vote, which determines both conferences starting lineups. This is an unprecedented amount of control for the fans. In most other major North American sports, the fan vote has a more limited impact.

The NHL All-Star game is an example of a more limited fan vote in terms of importance, where the fan vote decides the captains for each of the four all-star teams and then the rest of the players are voted in by the NHL.

Despite the varying importance of the fan vote in each of the four major sport’s all-star games, they are all flawed because of the potential for ballot stuffing. No example is more current than John Scott, former enforcer for the Arizona Coyotes, who is now a member of the St. John Ice Caps, the minor league affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. Along with being a minor league hockey player, John Scott is also the captain of The Pacific Division All-Star team. Scott was appointed to the all-star game in spite of being waived numerous times and posting a mediocre stat line of only one assist and no goals in eleven games, according to ESPN.com.

Scott’s appointment to captain of the Pacific All-Star team contributes to a troubling trend, the devolution of the All-Star game into a popularity contest, where the most popular players are voted in. Instead, the best players should be recognized and rewarded with a spot on the All-Star team. Scott’s appointment was the result of a viral practical joke. People thought it would be funny to vote for an unworthy player, just to see if they could get him appointed.

The problem with these all-star games being a popularity contest is that the appointment of players who have not performed well enough blocks players deserving of the recognition. This ends up tarnishing their reputation while simultaneously artificially inflating the reputations of undeserving players.

Kobe Bryant is an example of  false inflation of a person’s reputation. Bryant is currently the recipient of the most votes for the upcoming NBA All-Star game while putting up the worst year of his entire career, coming in at number 42 in PPG (points per game) while shooting the worst field goal percentage of any volume shooter in the NBA, according to ESPN.com. This leaves players such as Demarcus Cousins on the outside, looking in, despite Cousins having both a higher PPG than Kobe Bryant and a greater field goal percentage.

The NBA All-Star game itself may not be important, but being appointed to it still holds great significance. Bryant being appointed instead of Cousins shows that the fan voting system is flawed and will end up tarnishing legacies.

These all-star games have varying importance, baseball being the most important as it decides which league will have home field advantage in the World Series, the National League or the American League. Hockey’s all-star game is the least important because it’s only played with four players on each team including the goalie, compared to the usual six people in a standard NHL game. Despite the fact that some of these games don’t matter, the appointment to these teams will matter because it’s a key component in determining the legacy of an athlete.