Volume 2, Issue 15, The 67th Edition
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
"When are you going to write a column about Pokemon, Mom?"
My son has been pestering me to write one for a LONG time. Never mind, that I write a bowling column. In Michael's world there are two things that preoccupy his thoughts--Pokemon and bowling. Actually, since the kids he bowls with are the same way, the two favorites are interconnected. While they're on the approach, they're thinking just about bowling; but while they're waiting for their turn, it's nonstop Pokemon.
If by chance you haven't been graced by Pikachu, the stupid yellow hamster, and his Pokemon friends, I want to live in your world. But those of us with children or who work with other people's kids break out into hives at the mere mention of something related to the phenomenon. Chances are you've seen it already, and just didn't realize what you saw. Pokemon is everywhere, with T-shirts, video games, stuffed animals, trading cards, and a very popular Saturday morning cartoon.
How popular you ask? In the first episode of the season last weekend, 3.1 million kids were glued to their television sets. When I read it about Pokemon's success in the newspaper this weekend, I immediately thought, "Boy, the pro tours could use some help from Pikachu."
The PBA recently walked away from the television contract they had with CBS with a weekly rating hovering around 1.2, and the telecast ratings on ESPN are a bit lower. After reading the article on Pokemon's popularity, my first reaction would be to have a Pikachu or a Pokeball symbol (it looks just like a fishing float with red, white, and a little black) on Marshall's microphone during the opening sequence for the tour telecasts. My son would tune in just for that. The glimmer of hope that they might see something else Poke-related would keep kids watching, and PBA would have a younger audience. And that alone would give the advertisers the young, impressionable demographic they so actively seek.
If that's not enough to satiate viewers, how about Pokemon patches on the players? Any of the bowlers wanting to be a hit with the youth and preteen set merely need to form an allegiance with one of the 150 characters in the video game or trading cards. I'm sure some of the players who are parents could explain to the rest of them what characters are more popular. Nintendo has some deep pockets, and I'm sure the licensing fee to the PBA would be no problem for Nintendo. How bad would it for the PBA to stand for "Pokemon Bowler's Tour" for a week?
Some bowling centers have already captured the popularity of this game with children by running Pokemon leagues. The leagues offer packs of trading cards each week and the kids bowl league like normal. Hopefully, the center hands out the cards after the kids bowl, as I can only imagine the fights breaking out over who got which cards. I'm sure there are Pokemon bowling parties with all the paper goods strictly Pokemon as well.
But the more obvious marketing crossovers have yet to be touched by the bowling world. Where's that Pokeball? Or bowling bags? The kids already have clear, high-bounce balls with their favorite characters inside, and I'm sure having Pikachu or Charmander inside a bowling ball would be a kick for young bowlers. And actually the characters' "home," a Pokeball would make a nice ball too. Michael has already entertained the possibility of painting his Red Pearl Hammer half white to pay homage, and I've already vetoed the notion. But think of the incentive to throw the bowling ball. The kids in my son's league already playfully announce what Pokemon they're throwing, and what Pokemon they're defeating when they hit the pins. Can Pokemon Bowling be far behind?
Is Pokemon a passing fad just like pogs, Power Rangers, and Beanie Babies? I'm sure it is, but while it's here, is there anything wrong with combining something that the kids love with something we want to introduce them to? Michael is taking the Pokemon flyer to school on Monday to interest the other Poke punks into bowling a league. There's nothing wrong with that.
See, Michael, I actually wrote you a column on Pokemon and bowling.