Super Bowl Halftime Show: The Controversy That Never Ends


Sydney Hancock

HALFTIME CONTROVERSY: Major artists like Rihanna still refuse to associate themselves with the NFL. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez are set to headline the 2020 Super Bowl, but the NFL has yet to separate it’s image from the Colin Kapernick situation, and the debate continues to this day.

Rebekah Rahman, Staff Writer

The highly anticipated announcement of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez headlining the 2020 Super Bowl has garnered a mostly positive response from fans. However, this has reignited the seemingly never-ending discussion over the NFL’s mishandling of the Colin Kapernick situation and their non-existent attempts to address the controversy.  A recent partnership with rapper and billionaire Jay-Z seemed to show promise for social-awareness and change, yet many are divided on whether are not this is nothing more than a business deal. As such, popular artists that would be prime-candidates for the halftime show still refuse to associate themselves with the organization.

It is safe to assume that football has become an irrefutable part of American culture. Junior Ryan Cho support this sentiment by saying, “It’s football, and this is America. No one is going to stop watching anytime soon.” As it follows, the NFL is the leading organization for the nation’s beloved sport. An organization that is rife with a tangle of controversies. From an endless list of scandals plaguing its players to mistreatment from the league itself. One controversy would prove to be the most relevant and impactful even to this day. On Sept. 1, 2016, Kapernick took a knee during the national anthem to bring awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement and their stance on police brutality. Although Kapernick had sat down before kneeling, his kneel was highly publicized and gained both criticism and support from fans and his colleagues. According to The New York Times, it was not until this year that Kapernick was able to settle “their grievance cases” with the NFL as Kapernick was supposedly “blackballed” from playing football with any team since then.

Freshman Zoe Schbao said that the situation should have never gotten volatile in the first place because “kneeling is not an issue, it’s just voicing your opinion on a bigger issue.” Nonetheless, this year NFL tried to do damage control by announcing their partnership deal with Jay-Z, who is known for showing support for Kapernick and rapping about his disagreements with the League’s response. Jay-Z’s record label, Roc Nation, will now curate the halftime show as well have creative control over their new Inspire Change initiative, which includes merchandise that will be for sale. Additionally, the label will use its artist and collaborate with others for Songs of the Season, a series of concerts that will have inspirational songs that will air on broadcast television. The Undefeated sums up the divide amongst fans of Jay-Z by stating, “Attempting‌ ‌to‌ ‌fix‌ ‌the‌ ‌league’s‌ ‌image‌ ‌might‌ ‌be‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌uphill‌ ‌battle‌ ‌of‌ ‌Jay-Z’s‌ ‌career‌ ‌—‌ ‌especially‌ ‌while‌ ‌he’s‌ ‌trying‌ ‌to‌ ‌use‌ ‌the‌ ‌platform‌ ‌to‌ ‌benefit‌ ‌his‌ ‌own‌ ‌business‌ ‌interests.‌ ‌It’s‌ ‌capitalistic.‌” Sophomore Connor McNeish adds that people are valid in their criticism and that it “seems like a business deal that won’t do anything.”

This year, Rihanna revealed in a recent interview about her upcoming album that she was asked to perform for the Super Bowl in 2020. Rihanna is known for not shying away from sharing her strong political views, and says, “I‌ ‌just‌ ‌couldn’t‌ ‌be‌ ‌a‌ ‌sellout.‌ ‌I‌ ‌couldn’t‌ ‌be‌ ‌an‌ ‌enabler.‌ There’s‌ ‌things‌ ‌within‌ ‌that‌ ‌organization‌ ‌that‌ ‌I‌ ‌do‌ ‌not‌ ‌agree‌ ‌with‌ ‌at‌ ‌all,‌ ‌and‌ ‌I‌ ‌was‌ ‌not‌ ‌about‌ ‌to‌ ‌go‌ ‌and‌ ‌be‌ ‌of‌ ‌service‌ ‌to‌ ‌them‌ ‌in‌ ‌any‌ way.” A statement especially surprising considering she is signed under Roc Nation as well. Last year, the Super Bowl had the lowest viewership in eleven years. Fans admitted disappointment and disinterest in the Maroon 5 and Travis Scott halftime shows. Senior Ana Enciso did not watch either but is “very excited to see Shakira and Jennifer Lopez perform, it will be great to see an artist of my ethnicity on such a big platform.” While it seems like there will be no full support towards the NFL any time soon, it is obvious that the Super Bowl will still be anticipated and watched by many.