In a constantly changing sports landscape, news came out yesterday that I can safely say NO ONE saw coming. The kid-focused Nickelodeon Network has been awarded one of the broadcast spots for the additional playoff game as a result of today’s playoff expansion news. While part of me has to wonder if this is actually a play by Netflix to get live sports on their platform in response to Amazon Prime getting Thursday Night Football rights last season, that’s an article for another day. If the plan really is to gear this broadcast to a younger audience, Nickelodeon needs to lean into their deep roster of characters to make this pop.
Play-by-play: Arnold, Hey Arnold! (1996-2004)
In recent years, every network has tried to their darndest to get a former high-caliber quarterback in the booth to add their flair to the broadcast. I’m calling for more of the same, as Arnold historically led the fourth graders to a Mud Bowl victory over the fifth graders. He wasn’t just QB1, he called the final play that won the game. Normally the QBs are used for color, but Arnold is so well-spoken I want his charming voice painting me word pictures on every snap.
Color Commentary: CatDog, CatDog (1998-2005)
CatDog gives us a perfect 2-for-1 option on the color. The fact that at any moment the color commentator could end up in an argument with themself is too good to pass up.
Boogermobile: Stoop Kid, Hey Arnold! (1996-2004)
While it didn’t work for Monday Night Football, we are going to recreate this for our broadcast and fix its wrongs. We are going to rig up a mobile stoop to rove the sidelines. It’ll be much smaller than the Boogermobile was and thus less intrusive. Unlike on the MNF broadcast, the chemistry between Stoop Kid and Arnold is already there, so no awkward pauses and conversations when we go live to the stoop. In fact, he and Arnold are forever connected through football, as it was an errant football that brought them together for the very first time. Also, Stoop Kid is the OG when it comes to social distancing, and when sports do resume it will be important for the youths to see a champion of a noble cause in action.
Sideline Reporter: Ren, Ren & Stimpy (1991-1996)
Ren would be hilarious and him interviewing the coaches heading into halftime would be appointment viewing. Imagine the Houston Texans are playing that first week of the playoffs (because of course they will). Then imagine that coach Bill O’Brien makes a bone-headed move (because of course he will). Insert Ren: “Bill, you ran a fake punt on your own 31 when nursing a lead? You Eediot!”
Statistical Analyst: Squid, Rocket Power (1999-2004)
You don’t need an expert, you need a genius. While the Nickelodeon stable has a certain boy genius at their disposal, I’m looking at Sam the Squid to fill our role here. We’ve seen Squid apply advanced knowledge of physics and statistical modeling when helping Otto work out that impossible skate trick on the halfpipe. That combination of smarts and sports is exactly what we need.
Rules Analyst: Jorgen Von Strangle, The Fairly OddParents (2001-2017)
This one’s a no-brainer. Von Strangle’s whole schtick is enforcing the rules, who better than he to speak on them to our young audience?
Studio Host: Angelica Pickles, Rugrats (1991-2004)
You need someone who can keep everyone on task to run the studio show. You need a real boss. As such, we should look for the bossy beast of Rugrats, Angelica. Will she be easy to work with? No. Will she get the job done? Oh yeah.
Studio Analysts: SpongeBob, SpongeBob SquarePants (1999- ); Quailman, Doug (1991-1999); Norbert, The Angry Beavers (1997-2001); Reptar, Rugrats (1991-2004)
Here is where we get to throw in some great Nickelodeon characters regardless of fit. Obviously, SpongeBob was always going to appear, he’s effectively the wildcard here. He’s as likely to share a grand revelation as he is to sputter absolute nonsense. Quailman is just someone I always enjoyed, and that is enough to get a rolling spot on our show apparently. Norbert always had a witty reply at the ready, I think he will play off of SpongeBob perfectly. And Reptar? He’s basically gonna be our Gronk.
Special rule change for the Nickelodeon playoff games, no OT. The teams will participate in a combination of Double Dare and Legends of the Hidden Temple challenges to determine the winner. It’s really not gonna be that different.
If the broadcast were anything remotely close to the way my inner child desires it to be, the Nickelodeon game will be THE game to watch every postseason.