When I first heard that Macklemore had been named as the NRL grand final entertainment, I was a little disappointed. I find his music quite tedious, especially ‘Thrift Shop’ and the song about the moped.
Events in the last few days have changed my mind as I now look forward to him performing ‘Same Love’ to a national television audience. Despite the fact it is one of his most popular songs (and in my opinion his best) it comes at a time in our country’s history where its subject matter is as topical as ever. Much like when it was released in his own country in 2012.
Many will argue that politics and sport should be separated, namely former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, but that is something that is never going to happen. Just have a look at recent events in the NFL to see proof of this.
It’s not a new phenomenon either; Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ raised fist salute at the 1968 Olympics just one example from the past.
The same-sex marriage vote has also already seen much of Australia’s sporting community come forward to share their opinions, as they are well within their right to do. Many of the country’s major sporting codes, the NRL and AFL included, have already expressed their support for the ‘yes’ campaign, as has one of league’s most famous identities in Andrew Johns.
Players have also come out on the other side of the debate, most famously Israel Folau in a tweet a couple of weeks ago.
The NRL has two reasons to support their entertainment performing a song that is considered controversial.
One: the message of the song is in line with the stance that the competition has already supported.
Two: controversy gets people interested. Many have already weighed in on whether the song should be performed and news media have been running stories on it all week. There will be masses of people tuning in to see Macklemore’s performance that wouldn’t be watching the grand final otherwise. Who knows, they might even hang around to watch the game too.
Fox Sports and Channel Nine will be licking their lips about point two as well. Ratings are sure to be higher than they usually are, which is perfect in a year when no NSW teams have made the decider. Those in charge have every right to be worried about crowd numbers and the level of interest in Sydney, one of the game’s main markets.
There are many things to look forward to on Sunday. Macklemore’s performance is just one of them. We’ll get to find out who will win the final year of the under-20s, whether the Papua New Guinea Hunters become the best lower grade team in the ‘country’, and if the Cowboys can keep this miracle run going.
While not sharing where I sit on the issue, it probably becomes apparent on reading this article. Bring on Macklemore and bring on the grand final!