Like a sketch from “Borat” or a prank from “Punk’d,” the latest spot from DirecTV tests the patience of a group of young athletes under pressure from an undercover heckler. Olympian and pro women's soccer player Sydney Leroux surprises a women’s soccer team with a special appearance while looking quite a bit different.
Disguised in a beard, large sunglasses and a beanie, the star athlete turns misogynistic remarks she dealt with her entire career on a group of young players. Posing as a new coach during practice, Leroux shouts comments like, "Nice kick—pretty strong for a girl” and “this is why nobody watches women’s sports. I’m bored,” leaving the team shocked and frustrated.
One player decides to confront Leroux: “I found it really disrespectful that you were saying I’m a girl and I can’t do these things that boys can do,” the young woman, Jojo C., tells the disguised pro. “You should try a little more constructive criticism rather than pure insults,” other team members chime in.
Leroux soon reveals herself, to excited shouts from the team. Together, she and the players (who are wearing DirecTV jerseys) discuss how to overcome ignorant comments or speech. “It makes me really proud to see you guys stick up for yourselves,” Leroux tearfully concludes. “It makes me excited for the future because it’s in your hands and girls can do anything.”
The spot is part of a larger partnership between DirecTV and sports sponsorship platform LeagueSide as the companies report that youth participation in sports has dipped due to growing financial uncertainty. So far, DirecTV reports it has sponsored 850 youth sports leagues this year and plans to continue the program.
As part of the partnership, the companies are holding a sweepstakes to sponsor 20 young athletes with $500 sports scholarships. Interested parents may enter to win on the campaign’s website.
The campaign breaks following a difficult week for DirecTV in which NFL Sunday Ticket viewers were affected by a digital streaming outage. According to USA Today, it plans to reimburse some viewers who were affected for the second week in a row.