Every Sport Should Just Do A Slam Dunk Contest And A Home Run Derby

Dunks. Home runs. Home runs and dunks. Two of the most beautiful and pure things in sports. Two of the most beautiful and pure things in life, really. Physical feats of strength and grace that show off the outer limits of what the human body can do. Magical little moments capable of extracting an “oooooh” and/or an “ahhhh” out of even the most jaded among us. Both things that can result in complete strangers high-fiving and hugging each other in the crowd. Both perfect in their own little way. Both really, to put a fine point on it all, just very, very cool.

How cool? Well, think about this: Two of our most popular yearly sporting events are just tributes to how fun they are. The Slam Dunk Contest happens every year during NBA All-Star Weekend and is a mascot-hurdling blast even when the contestants aren’t household names. The Home Run Derby happens every year during baseball’s All-Star festivities and features the sport’s biggest and strongest boys absolutely mashing rapid-fire dingers to the moon. They’re great. I love them both very much. And I want more of them.

This brings me to my proposal.

Have every major men’s sport hold both a home run derby and a slam dunk contest during their all-star events. Especially the big three. Baseball players trying to do dunks. Basketball players trying to hit home runs. Football players trying to do both, which is honestly my favorite part of this idea, in part because football does not have a good showcase event like this and in part because football players are fascinating physical specimens. Show me a massive defensive lineman holding a baseball bat like a pencil and trying to smash baseballs into little clouds of dust. Show me wide receivers gliding through the air to attempt windmill dunks. Show me, well, all of it.

There is precedent here, kind of. This is where I once again share the video of the 1992 Celebrity Slam Dunk Contest where everyone from Ken Griffey, Jr. to Michael Irvin to Barry Bonds to Deion Sanders competed. The terrible video quality makes it even better because it makes the whole thing look like an urban legend. Like Bigfoot might show up. I would also like to see Bigfoot dunk and hit home runs. But that’s another article. For now, please just marvel at athletic excellence.

Are they the best dunks anyone has ever done? Eh, no. Could almost any bench player on any NBA team outdo this collection of Hall of Famers from other sports? Probably. Does any of that make this video less interesting to me? Not even a little.

In fact, it might make it even better. This is a no-lose proposition like that. Yes, sure, it would be fun to see the kind of damage someone the size of Aaron Donald or Joel Embiid could do to a baseball if they put a good swing on it and connect, all that strength and length creating what many respected physicists refer to as “a big whomping.” But it would also be fun to watch them flail about like amateurs while they try to make their bodies attempt a new and unnatural motion. It would be humanizing in a way to watch these superhumans become mortals. And funny. It would be very, very funny. This is where I post a video of Charles Barkley swinging a golf club, which does not, technically, have anything to do with home runs or slam dunks but still gets to the point I’m making. And is also very funny.

There are some logistical hurdles here. I’ll accept that criticism. The NBA All-Star Game takes place in February and it could be hard to hold a Home Run Derby in a host city that does not have warm winter weather or an indoor baseball facility. It might be tough to convince a collection of proud athletes to subject themselves to ridicule by attempting an unfamiliar skill in a public setting. I don’t know how many baseball players can even dunk well enough to participate in a contest, just based on the thing where Ken Griffey, Jr. is one of the most athletic players to ever put on a glove and even he wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire in that video up there.

But we can figure this out. Swap out the baseballs for softballs. Lower the rim to 9.5 feet. Throw some obnoxious prize money at everyone so it recruits the best of the best to give it a go. Make it fun. Make it silly. Do whatever you have to do. Just make it happen. For me. Please. The NFL already nixed the actual Pro Bowl and replaced it with a series of goofy little carnival games. We are so close to making this happen. We can do it.

We should do it.


Home runs.

Home runs and dunks.

For the people.