America Supports You: Troops Battle Pro Athletes Via Xbox
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2008 Deployed troops have no doubt been in fights they’d rather have avoided, but thanks to a new program, they can now pick their battles, and have some fun doing it.
“Pros vs. GI Joes” is a California-based troop-support group that’s offering servicemembers deployed throughout the Middle East the chance to challenge professional athletes on their favorite Electronic Arts game via Xbox Live.
“(It’s) not your typical ‘support the troops’ nonprofit organization that packages up all the good stuff that our troops miss when they’re deployed,” said Greg Zinone, founder of Pros vs. GI Joes. “I created (the program) with my wife, who’s a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and currently serving her second tour in Iraq, for the simple reason of wanting to give a little something to our troops that they can only get because they are … overseas.”
At United Service Organizations centers throughout the Middle East, selected troops will sit in ultimate game chairs and play their favorite games against their favorite pro athletes back home. The games will play on a big-screen TV. Two additional sets will allow for live interaction between the two competitors, Zinone said.
Matches will be held on a rolling basis as the athletes make themselves available. Additionally, Pros vs. GI Joes plans to hold three five-week, cross-country tours that will coincide with major league sports seasons as well as special-event matches throughout the year, he added.
“Supporting our troops is a no-brainer,” Zinone said. “Pros vs. GI Joes gives those people that love sports and video games, or those that just feel that it’s a heck of an idea, a chance to do something for the troops that they … would love to do while, at the same time, feeling a personal connection.”
Pros vs. GI Joes recently became a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.
The group hopes to gain some exposure from the affiliation, exposure they would gladly share with other troop-support groups, Zinone said. “There are a lot of amazing (troop-support) organizations out there, and each one deserves all the attention it can get,” he said. “If some of that attention can run through Pros vs. GI Joes, well, then let it flow!”