The Pro Bowl, one of the most popular NFL games, boasts an average of around eight million viewers each year. Fans of the NFL tend to bond together over this game since it combines the best of the best players from all teams to play against each other. Multiple players from different teams can be on the same team – Either AFC or NFC. The Pro Bowl officially ended on Sunday, January 31st. Here are the highlights of it.
What made the Pro Bowl unique this year is that it wasn’t played live. It was originally scheduled to be played at Allegiant Stadium, in Las Vegas. However, due to the coronavirus, plans were cancelled. The NFL decided to have players participate this year in the Pro Bowl virtually, by hosting it on a game called “Madden NFL 21.” One thing to also note is that there were only four players per team, along with other celebrities. The NFL has recognized the attention from the esports and celebrity communities, which has potential to bring the league’s ratings up. Popular streamers of esports have chosen to stream the virtual match.
The idea of playing it on a game instead of in real life has drawn some controversy. Many have stated that the Pro Bowl tested gaming skills, instead of the skills that the players had used and acquired throughout the season. Others supported it, saying that it was a great experience to see their favorite players play video games, while also communicating with their audiences. People who supported the virtual format also stated that the game “Madden NFL 21” is accurately based on the player’s actual skills and experience in real life football.
The NFC team ended up winning, and player Kyler Murray was named the MVP. He helped bring the score to a 32 – 12 victory over the AFC. The Pro Bowl event as a whole consisted of events tied together in a week. The watching parties that were streamed also helped people get together with friends virtually, since they cannot meet in person. A student who watched the Pro Bowl stated, “I usually get together with friends and family in real person, but this year that couldn’t happen. However, I was able to accomplish this by meeting virtually. It was different, but still enjoyable.” While the number of viewers for the Pro Bowl significantly decreased this year, it showed the NFL’s initiative in coming up with another plan due to the coronavirus.