“You want the NFL? GO to the NFL”

For just about every week in August and September, commercials with this tag-line uttered by a raspy, bellowing voice that sounded like a poor man’s James Earl Jones would impose itself in the middle of just about every sports-related telecast I’d watch. GO to the NFL? Did I really have to? It seems like the NFL will GO to me. Between Twitter, Facebook, the radio, VH1 reality shows, billboard ads, blogs, cereal boxes, newspapers, television, and restaurants named after football stars, I don’t really have much of a choice but to GO to the NFL whether I want it or not.

But do I want it? Yeah…yeah, I do.

Needless to say, I GO-ed to the NFL. The first day of football games provided tons of events and excitement that I couldn’t keep track of by only watching one game. I logged into the overly advertised NFL Game Center, which is a web-page that gives play-by-play updates of every game you want to follow, and compliments it with video highlights, game statistics, and a comment box for discussion. After the game is finished, the page looks like this example.  Related videos such as post-game press conferences and game analysis are added as well.

If football is an addiction, then this website is the opposite of rehab. Just about every media use is included right within the confines of one page.  It not only gives you all the information you could possibly want out of the game, but it does it by automatically refreshing itself after every play, saving you the arduous task of clicking a button. It surveys over an event we otherwise have no means of watching, and allows us to discuss it with other fans, providing us with hours of potentially entertaining distractions.

The Game Center function is a great addition to any fan’s Sunday afternoon, but it is far from perfect. If people only want to know the simplest summation of a football game, namely the “who”, “what”, “when”, and “where”, then this site is perfect. However, if one wanted the true essence, the “how” or “why”, then this does not provide a great substitute for sitting in front of a TV set. Game Center attemtps to solve this problem by offering video highlights as the game goes on, but they’re few in number, and never in a timely fashion.

There is potential for intelligent discussion in the comment box they provide, but it’s typically polluted with nonsensical trash talk or ignorantly biased interpretations of statistics or plays, usually laden with numerous spelling and grammatical errors. These are posts that are probably written by people that look like this:

Fans sometimes need to rely on other fans for an accurate depiction of a game, but the NFL seems to care more about allowing anyone a voice rather than just civilized people. More filters and moderation of the chat-boxes would be a great improvement.


That being said, all of these subtle imperfections is great news for the NFL. Their Game Center is not perfect, but the fact that there are people (sad ones like myself) who have an insatiable appetite for the content they provide, must speak worlds about what they are doing perfectly. They continue to reap the success of putting their seal on America’s most popular sport by being the most profitable sports league. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to enjoy a bowl of Ochocinc-O’s. Yes, they do exist unfortunately…