Goodbye All-Star Game (J-League Version).

Greetings from my new home at the University of Missouri.

In the world of professional sports in North America, it is quite common to have all-star games where the best players in a single league get together and play against one another, in what is thought to be a great moment for the sport and all the players who participate.  In some cases, such as the NBA, the all-star game is a big affair with a whole weekend in a host city with plenty of people coming to watch a variety of events, the game itself, the dunk contest, and just to hang out with fans of the game.  There are other cases, such as the NFL pro-bowl, while having similar events, just do not have the attraction or fan interest as other all-star games.  In such situations, there has been talk about getting rid of the game as it has little or no meaning to many stakeholders, yet whether it be stubbornness, tradition, or some other factor, the all-star game looks like they are here to stay in North America.

Outside of the U.S., there are few examples of an all-star game, especially in football (soccer), however both the J-League of Japan and K-League of Korea have put together all-star competitions with the best players in the league playing against each other, or all-star’s from another country.  Yesterday it was announced that the J-League would no longer host an all-star game this season, the primary reason being that the sponsors had all pulled out of the game as there has been little interest in the game itself.  Previously the game had been sponsored by: Kodak, Tarami (a food company), and most recently by JOMO (Japan Energy Corporation whose gas stations are named “JOMO”).  With JOMO no longer seeing any reason to sponsor the game, the J-League has already axed the game from the schedule for this season, and questions are whether anyone will step in in future seasons to sponsor the game.

Honestly, I think that an all-star game really makes no sense for the J-League and the sponsors, as it is only a single game, and has very little following, even among the most hardcore of Japanese soccer fans.

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