Since the release of Pokémon GO last week, fans of the augmented reality mobile game have been roundly criticized. They've been called clueless "zombies," derided for their slavish devotion, and asked not to play in such hallowed locations as Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Holocaust Museum.
Amid this backlash, however, The Pokémon Company and Niantic Labs, which developed the app, has found an unlikely ally—the National Association for Runners and Joggers.
Leaders of NARJ, which represents runners from all 50 states, heaped praise on the game and its makers at a news conference Saturday in New York City's Central Park.
"The National Association for Runners and Joggers endorses the Pokémon GO phenomenon 110 percent," said NARJ spokesman Reed Rothchild. "No longer are we the number-one object of ridicule on our nation's sidewalks and paths, in its parks, and in any number of other public spaces. Finally, there's another group of pedestrians being mocked and taunted."
"That means a new bunch of people finding dead bodies, being criticized for using cemeteries, and just generally looking goofy," Rothchild continued. "It is a most welcome change, and we wish the makers of this game much continued success."
He paused to shout at a nearby group of teenagers wandering past, staring at their phones: "Hey! Get a life!"
The teens continued, apparently not having heard the exhortation, as Rothchild turned back to the group of reporters.
"Anyway," he said, "we could not be happier. On behalf of every runner and jogger in the U.S., we say to the makers and users of Pokémon GO: Thank you."
"We don't know how long this fad will last," Rothchild said as he jogged away from the news conference. "But we intend to enjoy it while we can."