Can the Super Bowl Halftime Show
One simple trick to get 18 minutes of our lives back
I saw a very interesting news nugget about this weekend’s Super Bowl halftime show.
An artist is putting up millions of his own money to augment the already existing budget for the Super Bowl halftime show. That works out to about The Weeknd spending $500,000 a minute for the 14 or so minute show.
That makes me ask: do we really need the Super Bowl Halftime Show the way it’s currently presented?
This is by no means a criticism of The Weeknd; I’m a fan of his work, he’s one of the most creative artists making music, and he got totally screwed by The Grammys. You probably have not been able to get away from “Blinding Lights”, which has been stuck in my head basically since last year’s Wrestlemania.
I mean, watch the video. It’s fantastic.
The issue is not with him, it’s with the existence of the halftime show in the first place.
Halftime at an NFL game lasts about 12 minutes. That gives teams the opportunity to go into the locker room, make adjustments, and get back on the field without cramping up or getting too tight. Players’ bodies are used to having that 12-minute break.
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has previously told reporters that he prepares his team for the long halftime by giving them a pep talk.
"It really gets into a whole restarting mentality," Belichick told The Star-Ledger in 2012. "It's not like taking a break and coming out in the second half. It's like starting the game all over again. It's like playing a game, stopping, and then playing a second game."
I understand, to a certain extent, why the NFL lets this happen. It’s not about football, obviously. It’s about money and ratings. The NFL wants to hold the attention of viewers and make broadcasting the Super Bowl more profitable for their television partners.
Though in some years, there is better, alternative programming because of how long the show drags on.
But we’re talking about the biggest football game of the year, the game that decides the championship of the most-watched spectator sport in the U.S. A longer halftime hurts the integrity of that game more than anything else could. The longer halftime changes the flow of the game, something that Belichick mentions. But it goes beyond that.
Player safety is a potential issue when we talk about longer halftimes. I mentioned the issue of cramping and tightness when it comes to longer halftimes. That, obviously, increases the risk for player injury in the second half. But there is a chance, albeit remote, that the presence of all of the cords, bodies, and equipment on the field may damage the field itself. This is more true of grass fields than turf fields, but the chance is there. That not only increases the chance of player injury but field conditions of course also impact the integrity of the game whether it be by injury or changes in footing.
So what’s the impact of all of this? The impact is more on the game than it is on culture. Through fifty-four Super Bowls so far, I can only remember distinctly things that happened in three half-time shows.
Super Bowl XXXVI: In the first post-9/11 Super Bowl, U2 plays “Where the Streets Have No Name” while the victims of the terror attacks scroll behind them.
Super Bowl XLI: Prince playing “Purple Rain” in the rain like the complete badass he was.
Super Bowl XLIII: Me feeling bad for 3D TV owners as Bruce Springsteen slides into the camera during the first 3D Halftime Show presentation.
Nobody needed that moment.
I know I’ll probably get called a curmudgeon but I don’t care all that much. Just have a normal halftime show and get us back to what we actually came to see.