For more than 20 years, the NFL has developed its next generation of fans via EA’s Madden franchise, a pro football simulation that attracts kids to the sport like a house made of candy — and teaches most of them better clock-management skills than many NFL head coaches possess.
Now, the league will try to attract America’s youth to the various houses made of money.
The NFL has created a cartoon series that will debut on Nicktoons, a cable channel owned by Nickelodeon, which in turn is owned by Viacom, one of the few entertainment conglomerates that doesn’t televise NFL games. (Yet.)
First reported by Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal on Monday and officially announced later in the day by the league, Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core focuses on the exploits of “Ish” — short for Ishmael, and also a common slang alternative for one of the seven words that can’t be said on television. The 22-episode series consists of two-to-five-minute shorts, culminating in a one-hour episode that will premiere the day before the Super Bowl.
In Rush Zone, Ish learns that “all 32 NFL stadiums” (at last count, there were only 31) “serve as secret strongholds of an otherwordly benevolent life force that he has been chosen to guard.” The villain, Sudden Death, wants to find the pieces of the “life force,” reassemble them, and end humanity.
Sure, it sounds far fetched. Almost as far fetched as an effeminate sponge that lives in a pineapple next to the magic oil fountain.
The show is based on NFLRush Zone, an online role-playing game with 2 million registered users.
We don’t fault the NFL for coming up with ways to attract more kids to its product. It’s good business. Indeed, at a time when the NFL is concerned about making sure that folks still continue to choose coming to the stadium in lieu of watching games at home, there’s no better way to do it than to get kids to pester their parents to take them to the “secret strongholds” of the “life force” that they see on the same televisions that their folks otherwise use to watch football games.