I turned on the Nickelodeon broadcast in the same spirit that many people drink before a wedding or gulp down bags of mushrooms before a boring summer concert; playoff Mitch Trubisky didn’t feel interesting enough to me, a sober person, and I needed to see him covered in slime to get through the next few hours. That is, if Trubisky was even going to enter the Slime zone.
There’s a lot we could say about Viacom’s experimental NFL broadcast for kids, which debuted at 4:40 p.m. ET Sunday in the middle of wild card weekend and turned the typical soccer-watching experience into a kid-friendly aesthetic. with simpler graphics, a casual broadcast team explaining the intricacies of the game, and, yes, the digital slime that pours into the end zone when a team crossed the goal line (I think it’s brilliant, strategically, for parents who They don’t want to give up control of their remote on a particularly exciting Sunday to a crowd of rebellious, Caillou-hungry kids.) To be honest, my plan was not original. Fear and hate scam where we talked in great detail about the neon green and orange psychedelic adorning the field and how the random insertion of SpongeBob SquarePants characters felt like a fever dream of intrusive pandemic lockdown; the moment when all the haunting cartoons and nursery rhymes that live in our heads during the endless, uneventful days finally seep into the adult programming we use to escape that reality for a few moments every weekend. A kind of real hell.
The truth, however, is that the broadcast was a revelation for me at the end of a long season, and it may not be the kind of thing that the football broadcast ruling class wants to hear. Stripping the game of all its self-importance and arrogance was an absolute pleasure. I went through the pregame show, which featured a conversation between SpongeBob, Patrick Star, and Sandy Cheeks about what soccer Really I mean, better than what would have happened to me if I had spent the last half hour talking about thoughtless platitudes about the type of football at the Ford Toyota Built America Stand Flag No Politics Unless it’s My Politics Pregame Show. The use of the timeout was cordially explained to me and I smiled as the Nickelodeon crew peppered some cartoon knockoffs, Wyle E. Coyote blowing smoke and flame emojis over the highlights, a welcome departure from the haughty insider talk and soft on most streaming tandems, who often use their platform to get comfortable and make excuses to the trainers who give them access during the week.
It made me wonder what the hell we have been doing all these years. I walked out of Sunday’s game with no doubt that football would be completely fine if we took off the business pants of the current operation like Nickelodeon did over the weekend and let the things we love about sport speak for themselves. If we accept the nonsense of the whole thing. From ourselves.
Perhaps this is just a problem for people who make a living from sports, but for so long it has felt as if the collective arrogance surrounding the way the game is analyzed, written and broadcast to a national television audience he was preparing to swallow the whole game. I’ve noticed it in myself, the way I sometimes roll my eyes at a casual fan who asks why a player who has a ton of dead money left in his deal can’t be easily traded, or why he has mathematical sense not to gamble. a given situation. I’ve noticed it in the complete opposite way with the legions of people clinging together to criticize the cheering players, choosing not to participate due to injury (or fear of COVID-19) and those feeling free to express strong opinions. about rubbing misdiagnosed. routes, emboldened by their own particular brand of soccer analyzer / enabler. Sometimes I feel unbearable, sometimes I feel like the person on the other side of the conversation is unbearable. Either way, the overly serious and exhausting conversation continues. Nickelodeon reminded me: What if we just turned off the noise, removed all our attached thoughts and pretenses about what the game should be, and enjoyed it for what it is?
The truth is that soccer is a game: a silly war simulation for children invented for peacetime in the late 19th century. People throw themselves at each other and sometimes hit each other in the groin with errant passes. Have you ever intended to become what you are, and might it be worthwhile to step back and see it from a child’s eyes every now and then?
I’m not saying that during the Super Bowl, when a coach is in a moment of tearful prayer or reflection, their face should automatically turn into a hamburger through a sponsored Instagram filter (at least not each time). But I wonder if anyone else felt the lightness, the palpable friendliness of the entire broadcast and missed something about the reasons we enjoy watching sports in the first place. It felt a bit like the first time we saw a close match with Tony Romo on the call and the way we got to hear him jump on his desk and ruffle Jim Nantz’s hair during a moment of wild excitement (at least that’s what it sounds) . The way he didn’t care if he yelled or yelled if something cool happened.
I feel like by some coincidence it was a secondary demographic; the kind of person who grew up watching Doug and Hi Arnold! until my head ached and I was forced to go out into the sunlight to play. And I’m glad I’m back here, with all the trappings of childhood, to remember how good something can be in its purest and most innocent form.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.