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Politics don’t matter, it’s sport and music that shouldn’t mix – The Irish Times

Some argue that sports and politics should not mix, forgetting the real curse of our time: the clumsy and increasingly frequent attempts to unite sports and music.

To claim that sport can be apolitical seems like a misguided instinct to me, but if anyone wants to start a petition to maintain a giant crowbar between the worlds of sport and music, I’ll sign.

Admittedly, this is a subject on which a cultural force no less powerful than Apple feels differently, Apple Music has just been unveiled as the new sponsor of the extravaganza that is the halftime show of the Super Bowl, replacing Pepsi. But then the Super Bowl might be the exception that proves the rule: sports and music shouldn’t be allowed to mix. And yet they do.

Late Friday night, Roger Federer’s swansong at the Laver Cup, held at London’s O2 Arena, illustrated the awkwardness of it all.

Goulding was the kind of booking that could offer a touch of available glamor while also sealing the sense of occasion for a full crowd that had paid big bucks to be there.

You could see what the organizers of the not particularly serious men’s tennis competition – which includes Federer’s own ‘sports and entertainment’ agency, Team8 – must have been thinking when they hired Ellie Goulding for some tweets according to -match.

What if the Swiss great’s farewell somehow ended up – against all odds – becoming emotionally flat? Goulding was the kind of booking that could offer a touch of available glamor while also sealing the sense of occasion for a full crowd that had paid big bucks to be there.

Tennis being tennis, however, the two scheduled matches lasted an absolute eon, meaning it was well after midnight when Federer hung up his racquet, collapsed on the court and cheered the singer on as she burst into Still Falling For You.

The performance gave photographers plenty of time to capture Federer and his doubles partner Rafael Nadal sobbing in unison. Everyone was still in love with Roger. It was just unfortunate that for Eurosport viewers, unable to see much of a career video montage, it seemed like the duo were bawling uncontrollably at the experience of witnessing not one but two of the Goulding’s old hits.

Sports and show business have long been intertwined, as veterans of hard-to-hear, cringe-laden pre-final stadium entertainment know. It’s not always so sobering. It’s usually a harmless ceremony that signals crowds and viewers alike that it’s time to stock up on refreshments.

Few music festivals are interrupted for five-sided outbreaks, however, unless the defensive moves needed to avoid being rhythmically elbowed in the chest at concerts can be counted as a sport, it’s usually the music that appears at sports party, demanding a seat.

There’s an obvious reason for that: nothing can attract a mass audience like a major sporting event. The music industry – which likes to place its bets on a small cohort of first-team, worked-to-the-death performers – is watching the massive popularity of the ball game du jour and engineering a pitch invasion praying that rubs off on them.

What do sports authorities get in return? Good vibes, ideally, assuming they didn’t mess up the sound system.

The hype surrounding the final game of the US National Football League (NFL) season is one of those things about American culture that I’ll never fully understand, like gun ownership or the Grammys, so it’s hard to vouch for the number of Super Bowl purists. there, hating every moment of his traditional halftime hustle and bustle. But undoubtedly the Super Bowl is a special case, with its annual mid-game concert more important to some viewers than the Super Bowl itself.

Of course, both the Apple Music deal – which would have cost $50 million (52 million euros) a year over five years – and the confirmation that Rihanna will be one of the musicians performing at next February’s event in Arizona sparked much discussion in the media.

With Rihanna rejecting a title spot in 2019, telling Vogue it would be “a sellout” and “a catalyst” for the NFL, her acceptance of a 2023 appearance is not without significance.

The NFL promotes the halftime show to cement the Super Bowl’s status as a family event with appeal to young viewers. Lately, he’s also used it for reputational purposes, partnering with rapper and music mogul Jay-Z’s Roc Nation from 2019 to help repair his image following the former’s much-criticized treatment. quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and Civil Rights. activist Colin Kaepernick.

With Rihanna rejecting a title spot in 2019, telling Vogue it would be “a sellout” and “a catalyst” for the NFL, her acceptance of a 2023 appearance is not without significance.

Apple, meanwhile, has a new reason to try to reach American sports fans, having recently paid for baseball and American football rights for Apple TV Plus and started pursuing American football rights as well.

Ambitions for Apple Music are more opaque. Indeed, the news of the show’s part-time sponsorship may have already helped him achieve an infinitesimal part of his goals by reminding people that Apple Music is a thing that exists.

What is Apple Music and what does it want from us? The answer has been hard to discern since its launch in 2015. The theory that streaming services – despite, or perhaps because of, the catalog access they offer – have been bad at discovering new artists has many supporters. But even compared to its competitors, Apple Music lacks personality and verve.

In its financial statements, Apple lumps it together with the App Store, Apple Pay and iCloud under “services” and hasn’t offered an official subscriber total since mid-2019, when it topped 60 million. . It likely remains well behind Spotify’s tally of 188 million premium subscribers, making Apple Music the Pepsi to Spotify’s Coca-Cola.

The Swedish streaming market leader overtook Apple in the sports sponsorship game this summer by becoming the main sponsor of FC Barcelona and immediately threatening to “bring the worlds of music and football together”.

Barcelona are saddled with debt, so gleaning money from an unprofitable audio streamer isn’t the worst deal they’ve ever signed. Still, unless Spotify persuades Harry Styles to add the striker to his career portfolio, his assignment looks set to be disappointing.

More untimely collisions between sports and music – or “exciting moments”, according to Spotify – now seem inevitable, with Super Bowl halftime fandango, once treated as a unique curiosity, ominously resembling a pattern. Of the industry.

Sports fans who show up and pay solely for the, uh, sport can only hope for the best possible outcome in this predicament: no new hardware.