Big Game, Little Taste

american sports
Photo by Skitterphoto on

At the risk of having an NFL operative show up at my house with bad intentions, I think it’s time that we discuss why the most popular sport in America continues to be the instrument of its own demise. I think it’s time that we acknowledge what an insidious exercise the halftime show has become given the league’s ongoing perplexity on how to deal with its players committing acts of violence against women. If they believe that tossing together a few trendy mainstreamers could ever be enough to make fans forget the image of Kareem Hunt kicking and shoving a woman outside of a hotel in Cleveland, well, that just might be the most head-scratching play-call of the Roger Goodell era.

Like any multibillion-dollar industry, sustainability is the goal and what better way to ensure the future than to target a demographic whose loyalty is too often taken for granted? The public perception is that millennials are too busy taking selfies and being social justice warriors to truly understand the issues anyway, so whatever the league can do to appeal to the shallow side of things is considered a smart business decision.

Because of parasitic entities like Spotify and Apple Music, the relationship between young people and the music they listen to has changed so drastically that they don’t even realize how little the halftime show has to do with actual music. It’s an extravagant 12-minute endorsement of a corporation that doesn’t even care enough to compensate musicians for their services, which, come to think of it, reflects the the modern belief that paying for music in any form is an archaic activity.

Sure, certain artists have been able to transcend the pretentiousness of the platform (e.g. Prince, U2), but, if you’re tuning in to experience a moment of any cultural significance, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Combine this with the controversy surrounding Gladys Knight accepting an invitation to sing the Star Spangled Banner in front of her hometown crowd, and you see more evidence as to why music and football just shouldn’t mix.

I respect Colin Kaepernick’s right to kneel whenever he pleases, but placing him on a pedestal next to Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos comes off as insulting to the legacies of athletes whose dissension actually meant something.

What exactly has he sacrificed? He had one year of success before the rest of the league figured out how to stop him, so it’s not as if we’re talking about a top-5 quarterback here.

I remember reading stories about Ali being denied service in a restaurant upon returning home from his gold medal-winning performance in the 1960 Summer Olympics. What I don’t recall is the bizarro world in which the Turlock, California-raised, Che Guevara t-shirt-wearing Kaepernick was ever the most significant player, athlete, and cultural spokesperson of his generation.

Ms. Knight can do what she wants, as well, because it should be obvious by now that the league needs her more than the other way around.

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