In a year that has already featured one controversy surrounding an annual entertainment event comes another.
After months of speculation, the National Football League announced that pop-rock group Maroon 5 will headline the 2019 Super Bowl Halftime Show, following in the footsteps of artists like Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars. To add to it, rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi (of Outkast fame) were added to the set—along with a $500,000 donation to social justice group Dream Corps.
Though seemingly well-intentioned, the NFL’s announcement shows that the league is more interested in playing politics than genuinely tackling issues. The addition of two black artists comes months after word leaked that Maroon 5, a band comprised of predominantly white males, would be headlining the show and critics complained that the group was seemingly endorsing the NFL’s alleged actions against quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The donation also seemed like a preemption, a hope that by doing so, the NFL can stand on firmer ground by having the group headline. But it begs the question—why try to rectify a poor decision when it could have been averted in the first place?
While Maroon 5 has continued to be a dominating force in mainstream music, the group’s biggest hit of 2018 was Girls Like You, a track off their sixth album featuring rapper Cardi B, who won’t perform at a Super Bowl until an apology is given to Kaepernick.
Despite this, the league chose to go with them versus an artist that could’ve broken more ground on stage and is more culturally appropriate—Drake being an option, given his meteoric rise over the last ten years that culminated in his wildly-successful album Scorpion.
This decision gives credence to constant criticism of the NFL over the last two years—the League doesn’t truly care about the issues surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s efforts to “take a knee.” News stories that have leaked since the initial announcement delved into the group’s efforts to find a person of color to join them, with the donation to Dream Corps (with possible donations to Black Lives Matter, among other organizations) sealing the final nail into the idea.
If the NFL truly wanted to show their cognizance of the issues surrounding police brutality and racial injustice, they could’ve brought on Scott or even Outkast to headline the performance. Instead, the league chooses safety over morality, displaying an uncaring attitude toward one of this generation’s most prevalent issues.