American Football Database

An all-star game is an exhibition game played by the best players in their sports league, except in the circumstances of professional sports systems in which a democratic voting system is used. The players are often chosen by a popular vote of fans of the sport and the game often occurs at the halfway point of the regular season, although this is not the case for some all-star games (such as the Pro Bowl). The method of choosing teams varies, but the selection is usually based upon geographical situation of the clubs or the nationalities of the players involved.

All-star games are played as though they are regular games, but since they present a special showcase for skills, they hardly play out that way. Coaches try to get everyone into the game (while constrained by normal substitution rules), with the players not exerting themselves as they would in a regular season game (to minimize the risk of injury.) In hockey, for example, there is no serious checking, while in football no blitzing is allowed. In basketball, typically there is all but literally no defense played until the game's fourth quarter. An exception to this rule would be the Australian Rugby League State of Origin, where physicality at a level often leading to on-field scuffles is fairly common.

The term "all-star" is not generally used outside North America. Because of the promotion and relegation system prevalent in most countries, an all-star game would not be necessarily representative of the season's stars. Japan's J. League All-Star Soccer is one of the few such games. Moreover, all-star games are not often played in many sports (such as association football) that are popular outside North America because such sports play more games between individual nations, which are usually much more popular than all-star games would be. In the United Kingdom, all-star teams (both real and fantasy) are usually denoted with the Roman numeral corresponding to the number of players allowed on the field - for example, a soccer or cricket XI, a rugby league XIII and a rugby union XV.

Major League Baseball is usually recognized as organizing the first professional league all-star game when it was held as part of the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago. It was the brainchild of Arch Ward, then sports editor for The Chicago Tribune.[1] Initially intended to be a one-time event, its great success resulted in making the game an annual one. Ward's contribution was recognized by Major League Baseball in 1962 with the creation of the "Arch Ward Trophy," given to the All-Star Game's most valuable player each year.[2]

Professional all-star games

  • All Stars Game - National Rugby League - (Indigenous All Stars vs NRL All Stars)
Note: This annual game involves a publicly voted selection of the best club players from the league versus an Aboriginal team in honour of reconciliation.
  • American Hockey League All-Star Game
  • ECHL All-Star Game
  • Major League Baseball All-Star Game (National League vs. American League)
  • Honkbal Hoofdklasse All-Star Game (North All-Stars vs. South All-Stars)
  • National Basketball Association All-Star Game (Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference)
  • Philippine Basketball Association All-Star Game (South All-Stars vs. North All-Stars)
  • J. League All-Star Soccer (J-WEST vs. J-EAST, generally)
  • Korea Baseball Organization All-Star Game (Eastern vs Western)
  • National Hockey League All-Star Game
    • The game has had a number of formats throughout its history.
      • The original format, used from 1947 through 1968 with two exceptions, saw the previous season's Stanley Cup champions take on an "All-Star" team made up of the First and Second NHL All-Star Teams plus other star players.
      • In 1951 and 1952, the competing teams were the First NHL All-Star Team, supplemented with stars from the league's American franchises, and the Second NHL All-Star Team, supplemented with stars from Canadian franchises.
      • Beginning in 1969 and continuing through 2009, with some exceptions, the format was geographic—most recently Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference.
      • For 1979 and 1987, a single team comprising the NHL's best players faced the Soviet national ice hockey team in a two-game series.
      • From 1998 through 2002, the teams were divided by player nationality, with a "North America" team made up of Canadians and Americans and a "World" team drawn from the rest of the world.
      • In 2006 and 2010, the league did not hold an all-star game, instead releasing its players to play ice hockey at the Olympic Games. The league held an all-star game in addition to releasing its players to the Olympics in 1998 and 2002.
      • The current format, first used in 2011, involves the selection of 42 players—six in fan voting, and the other 36 by the league. The selected players then choose two of these individuals as team captains. Two days before the game, a "fantasy draft" is held in which each captain takes turns in selecting his teammates.
  • Pro Bowl - National Football League (American Football Conference vs. National Football Conference)
Note: In American football, the term "all-star game" refers to the American Football League All-Star game, last played in 1969; or the College All-Star Game, last played in 1976.
  • Major League Lacrosse All-Star Game (Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference)
  • Major League Soccer All-Star Game
    • The game has had several formats throughout its history:
      • Originally, the game pitted Eastern Conference and Western Conference all-star teams. This format was used for all games save one from 1996 through 2001, and also in 2004.
      • The 1998 game pitted an "MLS USA" team, consisting entirely of Americans, against an "MLS World" team drawn from all other nationalities.
      • The 2002 game matched an MLS all-star team against the US national team.
      • The 2003 game was the first in which an MLS all-star team played a visiting foreign club team. This format has been used ever since, with the exception of 2004.
  • NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (Race winners from previous and current season, as well as Sprint Cup champions and All-Star Race winners from the previous 10 seasons)
  • National Lacrosse League All-Star Game (East Division vs. West Division)
  • Major Indoor Soccer League All-Star Game (Format varies)
  • WNBA All-Star Game (usually Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference)
    • In 2004 and 2010, the East-West format was not followed; instead, the USA national team faced a team of WNBA all-stars. These games are not considered official All-Star Games by the league.
    • In 2008, no All-Star Game was played; the league took a break for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
  • Women's Professional Soccer All-Star Game
    • With the league only having been inaugurated in 2009, no format for the game has yet been established.
      • The first game in 2009, which took place after the season, employed a format similar to that of recent MLS All-Star Games, with a team of WPS all-stars taking on a visiting foreign club team (specifically Umeå IK of Sweden).
      • The 2010 edition took place at midseason. Of the 36 players, 22 were selected through a voting process, and the other 14 were selected by the league. The top vote-getters among U.S. and international players, respectively Abby Wambach and Marta, were named captains. They picked their first 10 teammates from the remaining 20 All-Stars selected through the voting process, with the league then filling out each roster.
      • No All-Star Game was held in 2011 because the season ran up against the Women's World Cup.
  • Triple-A All-Star Game (Baseball; International League vs. Pacific Coast League)
  • Double-A All-Star Game (Baseball; players from American League-affiliated teams vs. players from National League-affiliated teams)
  • AIFA Kickoff Classic (American Indoor Football Association All-Stars vs. expansion team)

Former events

  • Marlboro Challenge (1987–1992, CART series winners from the current and previous seasons)
  • CFL All-Star Game (various years and formats)

College all-star games

College football

Other college sports

  • North-South Senior All-Star Game, the NCAA men's lacrosse all-star games
  • NCAA vs UAAP, All Star Collegiate Basketball between the top two college leagues in the Philippines

High school all-star games

High school basketball

  • McDonald's All-American — featuring the most highly recruited high school players from across the nation.
  • Jordan Brand All-American - similar game among blue chip athletes

High school football

  • NUC All-World Gridiron Classic
  • Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic (Alabama vs. Mississippi)
  • Big 33 Football Classic (Pennsylvania vs. Ohio)
  • Bayou Bowl (Houston metropolitan area, Texas vs. Louisiana)
  • Don Raabe Big 30 Charities Classic (Southern Tier, New York vs. Northern Tier, Pennsylvania)
  • Lions Club All-Star High School Football Classic (Erie County, New York vs. Niagara County, New York)
  • Maryland Crab Bowl (Washington, DC vs. Baltimore, Maryland)
  • Oil Bowl (Texas vs. Oklahoma)
  • DFW Bowl (high school) All Star Football Game featuring top players from (Dallas) vs. top players from (Fort Worth). The game is organized by North American All Stars. The game is also referred to as the North Texas East/West Classic.

High school lacrosse

  • Under Armour All-American Lacrosse Game


Australian rules football

  • E. J. Whitten Legends Game (Victoria vs. All Stars, a team representing the rest of Australia—annual)
  • AFL Hall of Fame Tribute Match (Victoria vs. Dream Team—only edition in 2008)


  1. "All-Star Game History", Baseball Almanac.
  2. Newman, Mark. "All-Star MVP Awaits Your Vote",, July 10, 2006.

See also

  • Ideal team