NFL’s Lily White Halftime Shows

Jim Henley is shocked that the NFL is following up its all-white Super Bowl halftime show in Motown with an all-white halftime show for the Saints’ return to the Super Dome.

Back in the early 1990s I could scowl “political correctness” with the best of them. But when it comes to the world of business, a lot of “political correctness” is really sound management, sensible customer relations and effective marketing.

He has a point. Granting that the NFL is the country’s most popular spectator sport by far and that the time-tested, noncontroversial pop acts tend to be white, it’s still an odd choice.

Surely, they could have snagged, say Aaron Neville. Or, how cool would it be to bring out Fats Domino, who we feared died in the aftermath of Katrina? I don’t care if he can even still sing, that would have been a grand gesture.

FILED UNDER: Race and Politics, Sports, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Fersboo says:

    Surely, they could have snagged, say Aaron Neville. Or, how cool would it be to bring out Fats Domino, who we feared died in the aftermath of Katrina? I don’t care if he can even still sing, that would have been a grand gesture.

    And even if they had done something like you suggested in good faith, they would have been mocked and ridiculed for pandering.

  2. Anderson says:

    Isn’t the NFL supposed to be worried that it can’t attract enough black fans? I seem to recall reading that somewhere, a while back.

    Clever, aren’t they? Maybe they should be running the new Ford/GM juggernaut … or is the Juggernaut the supersized SUV that the new corporation plans to manufacture?

  3. legion says:

    I doubt it’s overtly racist; merely venal. I’m only going on gut instinct here, but I believe the (white) acts they’ve been booking are selling much more product than the currently-available black acts they could be booking. I’m not saying I agree with the sentiment, but it’s a truism in this capitalist society that symbolism will generally lose out to the dollah bills, y’all.

  4. Anderson says:

    but I believe the (white) acts they’ve been booking are selling much more product than the currently-available black acts they could be booking.

    ??? … I don’t follow you here, Legion. What do you mean by “currently available”? Would Kanye West or Beyonce or whoever not outsell a pack of geriatric Irishmen?

  5. Mark says:

    But they had P-Diddy (or whatever his name is) on opening night!

    Regardless, I see the point about the lack of diversity. After all, this is America, not a progressive blogger meeting in Harlem!

  6. Anderson says:

    Doh! I posted that comment to Legion without grabbing the very low-hanging-fruit summary of his position:

    He ain’t saying they’s a gold-diggah,
    But the NFL don’t be booking any halftime …

    How does that line end? I forget.

  7. legion says:

    Anderson,
    That’s why I’m only admitting to gut instinct here… 🙂 Kanye, Diddy, Beyonce, etc. could certainly make money, but the Nawlins show is with U2 and Green Day, which are pretty serious crowd draws. Fats Domino or Aaron Neville, OTOH, while kickass choices (and with far more connection to the area than U2 & GD), wouldn’t generate nearly the buzz.

    Besides, they’ve already got 99 problems…

  8. Steven Plunk says:

    Whatever happened to a color blind society? Isn’t that the goal?

  9. Stormy70 says:

    I would rather see the wonderful marching bands than overrated pop acts that sound like crap on TV. Marching bands would be the best thing they could do for a half time show. NFL morons. I hate the state of pop today.

  10. Anderson says:

    Whatever happened to a color blind society? Isn’t that the goal?

    The point is that the NFL seems a bit behind on achieving that.

  11. Steven Plunk says:

    How do you achieve a color blind society? By forcing quotas? By complaining when halftime shows don’t have the right amount of diversity? It starts by being color blind from the get go.

  12. Anderson says:

    It starts by being color blind from the get go.

    But that would be a really dumb idea, since quite obviously, if certain people continue to discriminate, we’d all have to play Emperor’s New Clothes and pretend that we couldn’t see that, say, every teacher in the school district was white.