World Cup marred by the advertising on ESPN

My nephew, 9 years old, was watching one of the early games of the World Cup when he came into the kitchen and asked his mother, “Can we go see The Purge?”

“Is that a kids movie?” she asked. No he said. It’s rated R.

Then he said, “What does “purge” mean?”

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Screenshot from The Purge: person with mask

Later he admitted that even the commercial he had seen, with his 7-year-old brother, was too scary to watch, let alone the movie.

Have you seen these ads? Watch the trailer, embedded above. That will give you a pretty good idea of what the ad I saw was like. The movie is about some future time when there is an annual purge in the U.S. during which, for 12 hours, murder will be legal and public services, like police an EMTs, will not be available. Fine, if you like that kind of thing, go see it.

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Screenshot from The Purge: Bloodied frightened-looking woman.

But the ads are airing during the World Cup when probably millions of young children are watching. My own 15-year-old son said that he and his brother – who is 18 YEARS OLD – turned the channel from ESPN when the ad  came on because it was so disturbing.

There are so few opportunities for shared national cultural and media events today that adults and kids from across all demographics can enjoy and talk about together, and here is one of those few, marred. How many parents thought that a soccer game would be a safe bet for their kids?

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Screenshot from The Purge: Man with bat and mask

Who is complicit?

ESPN is owned by Disney. (Think Disney cares about your kids?)
The Purge is produced by Universal Pictures, which is owned by NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast.


  1. Thanks for writing this Erin. We didn’t watch a lot of the World Cup and it is broadcast on a different network here in any case, but I have a similar problem with baseball games. Major League Baseball puts a lot of effort into drawing young fans to its games and telecasts, yet our carrier–Sportsnet–often shows ads for violent video games and television shows during broadcasts. My sons love baseball and watch just about every game and I am so fed up with having to tell them to avert their eyes or mute the screen because of some violent imagery. Recently it was the new FX TV show The Strain. Prior to that it was shows like Fargo and violent games like The Last of Us. I wrote to Sportsnet and they didn’t even bother to respond. More parents need to speak out has you have to make it stop.

    • Definitely a problem in the sports broadcasting area. Parents definitely get blindsided all the time. I once wrote to the New England Patriots about a violent ad during a game and they of course said they had no power to do anything about it. Really? Billionaire owner Robert Kraft has “no power”? Not buying it!
      Common Sense Media ran a petition recently to get sports broadcasting companies to stop with the violent promos, so we know we’re not alone.

      • Amazing how they throw up their hands and say they can’t do anything. Glad Common Sense Media is on it. I’m sure I signed that petition but, honestly, I lose track sometimes. So many petitions on so many important issues!


  1. […] with protecting children from inappropriate horrific images, as Erin McNeill pointed out in her blog post about the ad for The Purge that interrupted family viewing during the World […]

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