Monday, October 11, 2010

Run! Hide! The Commercials Are Coming!

This kid didn't need explosions to sell hot dogs.
I love football season, a fact that is no secret to anyone who knows me.  But along with football season comes a football frustration: the cover-your-eyes, hide-the-children commercials we must endure when our favorite team plays.  Read my latest column on the newspaper's website, click here for the printable version, or just keep right on reading...

We’re a sports family, and football is king of the family’s sports universe.  Now that the NFL season has started, my kids’ eyes and ears runneth over their weekly quota of physical violence, alcohol, vulgarity and sex.

But the violence isn’t from linebackers who flatten running backs, the vulgarity isn’t from inebriated football fans, and the sex isn’t from scantily-clad cheerleaders.

It’s the commercials.

Children are responsible for a sizable portion of the NFL’s profits.  Look at all the kids wearing jerseys and hats on local playgrounds.  Network cameras find plenty of cute kids sitting in $100 seats drinking $6.00 sodas.

So why does the NFL allow its advertisers to bombard its youngest fans with images that make their parents cringe?  A football game might feature touchdown after touchdown, but even a 45 to 38 shootout isn’t as offensive as many of the commercials.

I thought maybe I was just being hypersensitive due to the 8- and 11-year-old eyes sharing my couch, so I conducted a completely unscientific experiment.  I kept tally marks on a sheet of notebook paper during an NFL game and counted all the violence, alcohol, general rudeness, and sexual content in the commercials.

There were five gunshots, although perhaps machine guns should count more than one.  There were 11 physical attacks and three fiery explosions, each of which included flying bodies.

I counted only one dead body, however, considering the way explosions work, some of those flying bodies may have qualified.

There were 10 kisses, some romantic, some mere pecks, some included with the four shots of people in bed together, and several combined with the 10 shots of people naked, nearly naked, or getting naked.

I counted only three insults.  Then again, I didn’t count political ads.

Nobody’s surprised at the five beer commercials.

Promotional spots for TV shows are by far the worst, seemingly pulling out the five most squirm-worthy moments from an upcoming episode and packing them into 15 seconds. 

Did I mention I only kept track for one quarter of the game?  Fifteen minutes on the game clock, forty-five minutes real time.

I don’t want to brag, but like most men, I can run a remote like a teenager texts.  Used to annoy my wife, let me tell you.  Now my clicking thumb is the Sunday afternoon MVP, taking us from one football game to another whenever the on field action breaks for a TV timeout.

With all the commercials, some sixty-minute football games are approaching four hours.  And if commercials have taught us anything, we know how important it is to seek immediate medical attention when certain things last longer than four hours.

Monday morning during breakfast the girl said something mischievous, and I jokingly shook my fork at her, a four-pronged, stainless steel law finger.  “Geez, Dad,” she said.  “Watching all those violent commercials must have had an effect on you.”

“Maybe,” I said, “but if commercials made me a violent fork shaker, how come nobody’s running around the house without any clothes on?”

Without hesitation, my wife added, “Don’t look at me.”

See?  Another MVP vote for the remote control clicking thumb.


  1. The worst are the negative political ads. And the ads for "adult" medications....

  2. At least there's only eight days until this round of political ads is over. Then we can cycle through the same beer and movie ads, TV promos, and ads for medications that may cause a "sudden decrease or loss of vision or hearing."

    But on the bright side, at least we get that E-Trade kid. He's hilarious.


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