By Meghan Gaucher

On Sunday, Feb. 5th during the big game between the Giants and the Patriots, crowds of viewers fell silent after the chirps and spirited cheering for their desired team to view and judge the Super Bowl commercials for 2012. Aside from Coca Cola’s ad starring the polar bears and Acura SNX’s ad featuring Jerry Seinfeld, the National Football League’s (N.F.L.) Play 60 Program got some air and positive publicity from viewers across the United States.

In the Super Bowl Play 60 commercial, young girls and boys accompanied by pro football players “get their whole body in the game” on the game field and on the home field. The slogan, “be a player, get up and play 60 minutes a day” is used by the Play 60 Ad Council to promote “the N.F.L. movement for an active generation”, according to nflrush.com. By including star athletes in Play 60 ads like Arthur Blank from the Falcons, N.F.L. encourages kids to jump in and pledge to Play 60 initiative to promote exercise and join the fight against child obesity.
Obesity in the United States has dramatically increased due to high-fat, high-calorie diets and lack of exercise-due to such time-killers as television and video games. In 2010 alone, no state had a presence of obesity less than 20 percent, according to cdc.gov. Put into effect at a grassroots level, N.F.L. Play 60 has hosted after school team-based programs and educational sessions to create student awareness about obesity and the importance of exercise. Coaches and athletes support Play 60 year round, holding special activities around key NFL events such as: Thanks Giving, Kick-off, the Draft and the Super Bowl.

The such contests as the Punt, Pass and Kick to the Pro Bowl or the Play 60 Super Bowl Contest that bring athletes and children together in an active, friendly setting usually on school grounds or community fields and parks. “Our players recognize the value of staying healthy,” Roger Goodell, the N.F.L. commissioner says. “It’s important that young fans recognize the benefits of exercise. Play 60 is a tool that ensures children to get their daily physical activity.” Many of these contests and after school events require a submitted essay and photograph by a teacher or administrator in order to win a visit from the N.F.L. Play 60 bus full of pro football players.

Although video games have played a part in rising obesity levels, N.F.L. Play 60 has shed light on a new and evolutionary way of exercise through its rather recent partnership with XBOX 360. Whether inside or outside of the house, families participated in the contest “Kinect for XBOX 360 Super Bowl Challenge” in which Drew Brees and Play 60 teamed up with XBOX and Kinect to challenge everyone-young and old- to participate in a total of 60 minutes of controller-free activities with Kinect for XBOX 360 anytime during Super Bowl Sunday. XBOX, a video game console owned by Microsoft created Kinect, a controller free video game that allows players to virtually participate in such videos games as Kinect Adventures or Kinect Carnival. Many parents, kids, sponsors and professional athletes have rectified the innovation and appeal that Kinect possesses that contributes to bettering general health. “Weather and daylight can limit how long kids can play outdoors safely, but with Kinect for XBOX 360, your body is the controller,” says Yusuf Mehdi, chief officer of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, “Our games get kids kicking, jumping and running right in their rooms.”

Drew Brees, who can win Super Bowls and break passing records also has excellent gaming skills. His involvement with N.F.L.’s Play 60 has created a challenge for a group of regional kids in a track and field match through Kinect XBOX 360 on Super Bowl Sunday. Brees, an endorser of the product, explains: “The stuff that’s so much fun now is the dancing,” he says. “It’s hilarious. It’s interactive, and we get a kick out of that.” Track and field, however, was not something Brees thrived at; more than a dozen of the participating children beat him in the 100-meter dash. At the end of the event, the participants were each given his or her own XBOX 360 Kinect video game console, a black box that can sense a user’s voice commands and movements. For many of the youngsters, this console was not his or her first gaming system.

The large consumer market of Kinect is only one of the highly advanced technological innovations of the recent century. Video games and gaming systems have been evolving from hand-held devices to large, intrinsic video game consoles. In 2011, the U.S. gaming industry as a whole is worth 65 billion dollars, an extremely profitable market for producers such as Microsoft. The producers of Halo, for example, sold 2 million units in the first 24 hours in Sept. of 2009, according to Yahoo News. N.F.L.’s partnership with XBOX 360 Kinect has launched Kinect into the spotlight, creating an alternate world of exercise for many of its users.

XBOX 360 and the N.F.L. announced a multi-million dollar partnership that made XBOX the official sponsor for N.F.L. Play 60, according to The New York Times. The contract has allowed the organization to promote active living while having fun with Kinect for XBOX 360. Dennis Durkin, vice president of Microsoft Corp.’s Entertainment Business says, “We believe that XBOX 360 Brand represents many of the same values as the N.F.L., including fun, fitness and entertainment.” Kinect with XBOX 360 has sponsored 250 million dollars to get programming for Play 60 events. Over the six years since Microsoft signed the sponsorship with the N.F.L., the project has created 1,500 youth events and 100 fitness zones for the future generations across the United States, according to the official Play60 website.

After the Super Bowl when New York fans celebrated the victory of their beloved Giants and New England fans sulked about the loss, there was still some unition between the opposing fan clubs: Super Bowl Commercials. Some ads will immediately be forgotten and some will stick, making an impact on its viewers.

Do the Super Bowls ads stack up to what people want to see or what they need to see? Among many other hilarious and clever ads, the N.F.L. Play 60 ad touched on the serious crisis of child obesity and promoted awareness of their cause and their mission.