Football and war should never be equated. Any human who isn’t Kellen Winslow Jr. nor hopped up on the adrenaline from catching seven passes for 88 yards in a sporting event and whatever levels of testosterone are present in a 6’4” 240lbs all-star collegiate athlete knows that. And though football and war sometimes tragically kinda cross paths, no “football as war” analogy is ever appropriate.
That’s why I sort of get a funny feeling about the companion series for Electronic Arts upcoming video game release Battlefield 3.
The first-person shooter puts players in charge of a military campaign “set near the Iran-Iraq border, where the US Marine Crops is fighting the Poeple’s Liberation and Resistance.” EA will release the title on October 25. In preparation for that release, EA is marketing the game by way of the three-episode web series Battlefield 3: Operation Gridiron, which will culminate in a cable broadcast finale October 24 on Spike TV.
The original web series was filmed in a “top-secret location” and stars professional NFL players Drew Brees, Clay Matthews, Jared Allen and Larry Fitzgerald and a few Navy Seal Team Sixers teaming up and facing off to compete in “realistic challenges pulled straight form the gritty war scenarios players will face” in Battlefield 3.
In terms of being an entertainment product for 15 to 35-year-old men used to market another entertainment product for 15 to 35-year-old men, Operation Gridiron looks like it will be the most engaging and successful companion web series ever. All-star athletes, professional football, video games, war and amazing production quality make for one helluva compelling combination. Still, the whole property leaves me feeling a little off.
Aside from the implicit association the series makes between war and football, that feeling has little to do with the content of the series. If anything, EA and the stars of Operation Gridiron go to great lengths to show a good amount of deference towards America’s armed forces. “Taking to the battlefield in these real-life war settings was really exciting and eye-opening,” said Brees. “Every day men and women face challenges similar to what we tackled in this show but with potential dire consequences. Filming this show once again reinforced my respect for the soldiers who fight every day for our freedom.”
That’s a nice sentiment, but it’s still tough for me to get completely on board with the program. I think it’s because, at least for me, Winslow Jr.’s now nine-year-old tirade still ruins any association between sports and war. It’s kinda like how Quarterlife ruined web and television series that have a character who talks directly to his or her webcam. That portion of Marshall Herskovitz’s program was done rather poorly, so when viewers see any similar storytelling tactic, negative associations quickly surface. Or, it’s kinda like how I ruined analogies that one time when I compared Quarterlife and breaking the fourth wall to football and war.
Regardless, if you want to see multi-millionaire athletes in combat gear, watch Battlefield 3: Operation Gridiron here.