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Column: Kid Rock Performance Speaks Volumes About NHL

It’s like Mountain Dew for your ears.

It MUST be 2003. People are paying attention to Donald Trump, Burger King is making money off of something made out of Cheetos and mac and cheese, and Kid Rock is performing on national television. The Michigan native and Detroit Red Wings fan has been tabbed to perform at the NHL All-Star Game next week.

In case you’ve forgotten, which I hope you have, Kid Rock rose to relative prominence in the late 90s/early 2000s with a brand of music that’s equal parts rock, rap, country, and Funyuns. In recent years, he’s been seen working with political campaigns and endorsing various right-wing initiatives. Also, wearing wife beaters and fedoras simultaneously.

The NHL has never lacked entertainment value; hockey is simply fun to watch. It hasn’t seemed to gain the same attention or prominence of other American professional sports leagues, which is what makes this choice baffling. It’s not even what his political leanings are or what things he’s done, it’s simply hiring a polarizing figure, no matter what he believes or does, to headline the league’s biggest event of the year.

There are plenty of big-name safe bets the NHL could have used to garner positive media attention and shed good light on the sport; Kid Rock is the opposite of that. A suggestion? Neil Young, a rock star and a Canadian, meaning 75% of NHL fans love the guy already, and the general public would be excited to see a classic back at work. Kid Rock is reason enough for parents to have their kids change the channel and tell them to “stop watching that garbage”.

People are politically tired nowadays. Regardless of which way you lean, you’re probably exhausted of everything having to make a statement or shove a message in your face. If the NHL is trying to grow its fanbase or get more viewers, this is the absolute last place to start. In a statement, NHL Executive Vice President Steve Mayer said:

“It’s all about the entertainment at the end of the day for us, and this selection was purely based on that, and the fact that Kid Rock is a hockey lover. That’s simply the background here.”

That’s not too hard to buy, and perhaps it’s not the easiest thing to find an musician and NHL enthusiast who’s not busy occupying NBA floor seats in late January, but Kid Rock is as entertaining as Velveeta is healthy. Regardless of their intentions, however, the NHL isn’t making the best publicity move with this one. It does pose the question, however, if anything nowadays can be done while organizations and individuals alike continually walk on eggshells? Again, there are a few safe bets out there for situations like this, but as long as the country continues to politicize everything and individuals continue to make themselves some sort of political banner, everything will cause some sort of reaction.

Unfortunately for the NHL and Kid Rock, this reaction is pretty bad all across the board.

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