‘Take a Knee’ movement causes Super Bowl halftime turmoil


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Justin Timberlake performs in the 2018 Super Bowl halftime show.

On Sunday, February 2, the New England Patriots will play the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl. Millions of Americans will tune into this prized sporting event from their living room. A less cherished but vital institution in the United States is politics. It is inevitable these two aspects will intersect. Historically, football has been a uniting factor in society, but in recent years, the line between the two has been blurred.

These two worlds collided when Colin Kaepernick, former NFL football player for the San Francisco 49ers, knelt during the National Anthem in solidarity for victims of police brutality. Soon after, Rihanna was offered the opportunity to perform at the halftime show but refused because of Kaepernick’s expulsion from the NFL. Later, Cardi B also declined to perform with Maroon 5, already booked for the show. As a result, last year’s headliner Justin Timberlake was offered and accepted a spot.

Rihanna and Cardi B’s actions speak volumes to the general public, as they aim to resolve issues they care about, such as police brutality, all while exercising their First Amendment rights. On the whole, celebrities part of minority groups have shown their alliance with Kaepernick. Artists such as Timberlake and Maroon 5 typically stay under the radar on political issues, electing not to take a stand.

Critics claim Timberlake and Maroon 5 have the luxury of choosing whether or not they want to take a stand on the issue because they are not an ethnic minority. But on the other hand, Travis Scott and Big Boi in Atlanta, who are playing alongside the band Maroon 5 in the 2019 Super Bowl, are expected to stand up for Kaepernick because they are both part of ethnic minority groups.  

Sophomore Brianna Petrus said Timberlake and Maroon 5 shouldn’t have to face criticism because taking the job doesn’t necessarily mean they are against what Kaepernick kneels for. Petrus also said that even if they don’t believe in what Kaepernick did, they shouldn’t be ridiculed for their opinion.

Sophomore Lane Zwick suggests politics might not have been a motivator for Maroon 5, Travis Scott or Big Boi in Atlanta.

“They could just be performing for money as well; it doesn’t have to be a political thing.”

But the question still remains whether or not those performing in the 2019 Super Bowl will be criticized.

“People are in sports, [and people are in politics so] politics are always going to be in sports, no matter what we think,” Zwick said.