USA Network set up a miniature football field in Times Square on Wednesday to promote its new original series Necessary Roughness about a Long Island psychotherapist who counsels star athletes and other high-profile clients.
As crowds of tourists milled around on the way to Broadway matinees, staff members in USA t-shirts ushered them into five “stress relief zones,” as they called the distinct areas designated for sumo wrestling, boxing with 6-foot high punching bags, dancing “to silent music” (with headphones on), hurling footballs at a target, and receiving complimentary massages. The synthetic grass-carpeted field looked out of place amid Times Square’s usual foot-traffic congestion. Signs advertised, “USA Network’s THERAPLAY: Therapy has never been this fun.”
New York Jets star running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who was hired to promote the show, signed autographs and posed for photos against a USA wallpapered background. Tightly gripping his miniature “Necessary Roughness” football (wouldn’t want to fumble a promotional event), he told The Observer, “I really think it’s a great thing they’re doing here because a lot of people probably don’t know about [sports therapy] and they walk through here and realize they can get massages and sumo wrestle and all this stuff.”
“Actually I have tried this kind of therapy with boxing,” he admitted, as a young boy with a disposable camera shouted “LT!” He added– raising his voice above Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” on the stereo– “Obviously I get massages all the time.”
While the event’s marketing appeared to target stressed New Yorkers (advertisements asked consumers to “tackle their issues and loosen up”), the primary clientele were children; adults, for the most part, watched on the sidelines as their kids and teens strapped on sumo suits and rolled around on the “field,” dancing to their favorite music on headphones.
“It looked like fun for the kids, so we’re going to throw the ball around—we just got a massage!” said Brian Mahoney, on vacation from Miami with his son Matthew.
Adult New Yorkers, however, seemed too busy to waste an hour boxing or sumo wrestling. Pedestrians looked on in bemusement at the little Theraplay oasis in the center of the city that never sleeps (let alone de-stresses!)