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Thu, May 23

Sports Column: NFL missing opportunity when booking halftime entertainment

I was sitting on my sister's couch watching the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show in 2004 when, like the rest of the country, I wasn't sure of what I had just seen.

But in the moments after the infamous Janet Jackson halftime incident and the introduction of the term "wardrobe malfunction," the fallout (pardon the pun) was clear - the Super Bowl halftime show wasn't going to be the same.

In the previous 38 Super Bowls, the halftime show has featured the University of Arizona marching band (Super Bowl I), "Up with People" and Michael Jackson.

In the eight years since, the NFL has given football fans the likes of Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, the Black Eyed Peas and this year, Madonna.

Of all those halftime shows, Madonna's was the best, and some have called it the best ever as it continued the tradition of extravagance that fans have come to expect. But I still think the NFL is missing a golden opportunity here.

It's understandable that from the outcry that followed the Jackson incident, in which the Federal Communications Commission fined CBS a record $550,000, the NFL wants to be cautious when selecting halftime entertainment.

But an idea the NFL should look to explore when selecting the entertainment for next year's Super Bowl halftime show in New Orleans is to look for something that symbolizes the music and culture of the host city or state.

With billions of people watching worldwide, the Super Bowl halftime show is a great opportunity to show the world just how this country is a melting pot of different cultures. The Olympics does this during the opening ceremonies when they have performances that are designed to introduce the host country to the world. Why not have the NFL introduce one of its cities to the world in a similar fashion?

New Orleans is rich in music and culture. I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard find an accomplished entertainer with New Orleans roots. Plus, the halftime show can be used as a coming out party for the city, to show the country and the world that the city is back from Hurricane Katrina, and the scenes that played out on TV of people being air-lifted from their flooded homes and the heartbreaking stories and struggles the city faced in the aftermath.

In 2014, when the Super Bowl is played in New Jersey, book Jersey native Bon Jovi; in 2015, when the Super Bowl returns to the Phoenix-metro area, book Phoenix resident Alice Cooper.

But will a shift towards finding entertainers with local ties to the host city or state solve the problems the halftime show has encountered since the Jackson incident? Rapper M.I.A. flipping the bird at this year's Super Bowl comes to mind, as does The Who taking the stage in Super Bowl XLIV in 2010 and it looked more like a geriatrics convention than a rock concert.


But it would be nice when watching the halftime of the most celebrated sporting event in this country, an event whose bid process is comparable to hosting an Olympic games, that the NFL would see this golden opportunity to showcase the host city and show the country and the world how unique it is.


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