Justin Timberlake, who will headline the Super Bowl LII halftime show while I’m not watching, was asked at a news conference this week whether he would support his son Silas if he wanted to play in the NFL. said Thursday that he will not allow his 2-year-old son play football. Timberlake responded : “Uh, he will never play football. No, no.”
Let us assume, for the sake of the quiz, that the reason Timberlake will veto football for his son is that he does not want his offspring ending up with the IQ of his fellow Mickey Mouse Club cast member and one-time girlfriend, Britney Spears. So why, if the singer does not approve of what playing NFL football does to brains, is he participating in the biggest showcase of the most dangerous major professional sport?
Your Ethics Alarms Super Bowl Ethics Quiz is…
Is Timberlake a hypocrite to accept payment to promote the Super Bowl and participate in pro football’s biggest event, while stating that he would not permit his son to play football?
My answer: sure he is. This isn’t like the cases we have discussed in past posts where American performers have accepted huge amounts of cash to perform for dictators abroad. Those have been private events, and a performer does not endorse his audience. Timberlake, however, is actively participating in the promotion of football and the NFL, to to the nation, and particularly to children. The Super Bowl has always been equal measures of sport and hype, and the half-time shows are hype. If he believes football is dangerous, which it is, he should not accept a fee to make the sport attractive to kids, or help the NFL attract impressionable young viewers.
[Update and Correction: readers Arthur in Maine alerted Ethics Alarms that star performers in the Super Bowl halftime show are typically not paid, but do the show for publicity. This doesn’t change my answer at all.]