With the NBA All-Star weekend fast approaching, it has become apparent that the Slam Dunk Contest, which was once a must-see event, is no longer taken seriously.
The dunk contest, in the early 2000s, captivated fans. NBA superstars like Vince Carter made it famous. For many people, the dunk in basketball is the most exciting way to score. An event that pits the best and most exciting players against each other to see who can pull off the best dunk seems great, but in past years, the competition has become dull.
The dunk contest, like many all-star events in sports, such as the home run derby in baseball and the Pro Bowl game in football have exponentially dropped in viewership over the past few years. Each event suffers from the same problem: the best players have no interest in participating. CAS freshman Sushi Adolakha is often disappointed by all-star events and the dunk contest in particular.
“The dunk contest has become stale,” Adolakha said . “The best players don’t compete anymore. Maybe because they don’t want to embarrass themselves by falling flat or they don’t have the time.”
CAS freshman Baldur Dagbjartsson echoes the same sentiment about the quality of players competing.
“I firmly believe that the dunk contest should be taken away from the All-Star weekend,” Dagbjartsson said. “The reason is that no one wants to see a bunch of mediocre athletes attempting to win the hearts of the millions. People want to see the all stars like Lebron James compete, and in recent years the lack of all stars in the dunk contest is really hurting it.”
Lackluster all star events are not specific to basketball. In baseball, the hottest hitters are afraid that the home run derby will mess with their timing or they don’t want to end up hitting zero home runs in front of the nation, so they turn down any offer to participate. The Pro Bowl suffers from a similar problem because it occurs right before the Super Bowl, whicih means the players from the best two teams don’t compete for fear of injury.
Why watch the dunk contest when the NBA has better all star events now? Although the dunk contest has become lackluster, the NBA now offers other, better all-star events. The three point competition will probably be more competitive because the best shooters don’t have to worry about injuring themselves or looking foolish. The skills competition and all star game itself will be more worth viewers’ time.
The dunk contest takes place on Feb. 14 at 8:00 pm, and scheduling the event on Valentine’s day this year could be a sign that the NBA has stopped caring about getting the highest viewership. LS freshman Francesca Rookwood shared that sentiment.
“It’s really an inconvenient time,” Rookwood said. “People will only watch it if they have nothing else to do.”
The dunk contest is not beyond redemption, but salvation looks increasingly more unrealistic because protecting talented stars is far more important to league organizations.
Email Kyle Luther at [email protected]