Super Bowl LIII (53) is set to be played Feb. 3, 2019. The Super Bowl is the yearly playoff game of the National Football League (NFL). Super Bowls in recent years have proven themselves to be more cultural events rather than just sports events. As a result, Super Bowl parties have become national pastimes in themselves, even for people who have no stake in the outcome of professional football games. In addition, even for people who do not care for the sports, most people are interested in the half-time shows. Frequently, new artists with a growing momentum, and seasoned artists with decades worth of fans perform at the yearly event. Now, the typical set up of the half-time show is still up in the air, as the expected second performer has yet to be found.
The problem seems to be not so much the headlining act, Maroon 5 (although some writers have questioned having the rock group perform at the Atlanta Super Bowl), instead, the refusal to play the Super Bowl is a critique leveled at the NFL.
Ostensibly, the reason for the NFL boycott is because of its treatment of Colin Kaepernick. According to NewsOne.com, some performers are still upset over the half-time show incident in 2004, when Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” added a new phrase to the American lexicon and according to NewsOne.com, caused then-CBS executive, Les Moonves, to try to ruin Janet Jackson’s career.
Jay-Z was probably the first famous musician to say “no” to the NFL, having given a much-publicized refusal in September. But lately, NewsOne.com, TheGuardian.com and others report, Maroon 5 has reached out to “more than half-dozen stars to appear as featured guests during the 13-minute slot midway through Super Bowl LIII, but so far, none have agreed to do it” Variety.com reports.
Among the boycotting musicians are Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, Lauryn Hill, Andre 3000, Cardi B, Usher, Pink, and Nicki Minaj.
The timing of the NFL boycott and the involvement of Maroon 5 — the rock band fronted by “The Voice” coach and judge Adam Levine, sounds like a public relations nightmare for the singer. With the conclusion of season 15 of “The Voice,” and with many fans upset about Levine’s alleged lack of support for one of his singers who happens to be black, now seems a bad time to have yet another problem that might concern race.
Some writers have offered ideas of who could perform in the empty slot. Suggestions were frequently made of choirs and similar groups. But what about a jilted former contestant of “The Voice?” Could someone get DeAndre Nico to prepare a few songs? The irony would be great, and the slot would be filled.
The NFL has been tied to issues of race ever since the organization’s representatives banned Kaepernick when he started to kneel during the National Anthem. Other players began to take a knee in support and further protest. The support for Kaepernick did not seem to sit well with the NFL’s representatives.
Now, with popular artists boycotting the NFL’s biggest event, one that manages to attract non-football fans, it seems as though some resolution is needed. The Super Bowl used to be one event that brought people together across racial, political and other spectrums. With the Super Bowl as the public knew it in jeopardy, the event might prove to be more of a dividing force than anyone expected.