Why I don’t care about the Grey Cup halftime show announcement (and you shouldn’t either)

Photo courtesy: Fred Chartrand/CFL.ca

There has been a lot of hand-wringing in recent days about the Grey Cup Halftime Show and the lack of an announcement from the CFL as to who will be performing on the biggest day of the football calendar. The subject has dominated the late-season conversation on Twitter, with 3DownNation‘s own Joel Gasson adding fuel to the fire with his own article earlier this week.

I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter.

The assumption that an announcement needs to be made anything more than a week in advance of a sold-out game — especially one that was always going to sell out in football-crazy Regina — doesn’t make any sense to me.

Think for a moment, can you name this week’s CFL Top performers? The most dedicated fans of the game could likely name one or two of the people on that list. Now tell me if you can remember who the top performers were in Week 15 without going to Google.

I work with some of the most dedicated CFL diehards here at 3DownNation and I’m betting they couldn’t either.

Why? It’s because no one cares. The answer to that question is irrelevant in our day-to-day lives.

Yes, the halftime show is something that should be prestigious, and an honour to perform in. There have been many multi-platinum-selling artists that have done so.

That said, did Shania Twain being announced on August 10 in 2017 make anyone write down the Grey Cup date on their calendar as a must-watch event? Or was it largely forgotten once the news cycle died down, before coming back to the public’s attention the week of the game?

If the game is a quick sell-out, as it typically is, the announcement should take place on the Monday before the event. It allows for the conversation to remain current, in the public eye, and front of mind for the casual fan.

Simply put, the message of, “Hey fans, don’t make plans for roughly 8 p.m. eastern in five months because we have 12-16 minutes worth of thrilling halftime entertainment that will surely convert you into a lifelong fan of football” doesn’t really work. Instead, we should get, “Hey fans, make sure to tune in this upcoming Sunday when you might still remember this!”

Having the announcement on Monday would also allow for the last-minute halftime show-driven traveller who is willing to take an offloading season-ticket holder’s seats in their disappointment that their team didn’t make it.

“Hey, let’s go to Regina because a Tom Petty hologram is playing Grey Cup halftime with a John Lennon hologram! Can’t miss that!”

Let’s not forget that no matter who the act is, you will have an equal number of people celebrating and complaining because it isn’t their cup of tea musically. Old people whining because they don’t like the “hippity-hops” and young people wondering why another classic rock band is being booked will both sound off in equal measure. Now, the CFL has lessened the amount of time people have to complain, and those who didn’t get to see their team make it will care even less when they’ve decided not to go to the game after all.

The Grey Cup is not the Super Bowl. Millions of people watch the NFL championship game for the spectacle, the commercials, and the halftime show while the game is an afterthought. No one is watching the Grey Cup for the same 10 ads on repeat and a halftime show that is, more often than not, a bit shrug-worthy.

Even Bell Media doesn’t equate the two, as the Super Bowl is on the free channel CTV while the Grey Cup languishes on the paid channel TSN despite both being owned by the media conglomerate.

No matter who performs on Grey Cup Sunday, it won’t be Lady Gaga jumping off the roof or a silhouetted Prince melting brains with a guitar solo. It won’t be a collection of the greatest artists of a musical genre all performing together.

The best the CFL has had in recent memory is Shania Twain on a dogsled and a bunch of acts that I had to look up to remember.

Whomever it is that takes the stage, be it a multi-platinum artist, a group of cultural dancers, or a Tae-Kwon Do demonstration, all I ask is for there to be no in-game interview. I don’t care what they think of our game. I just want to hear Dustin Nielson describe the action while Matt Dunigan tells us about it after the fact.

All of this is to say that to the real CFL fan, the halftime show doesn’t really matter. You will like it or you won’t. You will watch it or head to the fridge for refreshments. You will think the act is famous enough or you won’t. None of this will change the ratings and none of this has affected ticket sales.

It’s the game that matters and it’s the game that draws our attention.

Ryan Ballantine is a lifelong Stamps fan and host of the Horsemen Radio Podcast. He has been covering the team since 2008.