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The NHL Flips Off Its Fans Again

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I’m real tired of this, man.

Utah Jazz v Denver Nuggets
What year is it? 1995? 1850?
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The NHL announced its headline entertainment for the 2018 All-Star Game, and guess what?

Look: the NHL is probably never going to be as cool as other major sports leagues, and that’s not the end of the world. We’re all used to the NHL announcing past-their-prime rock acts as entertainment. For example, they brought the Goo Goo Dolls out to play the Winter Classic this year, a band whose biggest hit was twenty years ago. That’s not exactly cutting edge, but hey, okay. I like a couple of Goo Goo Dolls songs! Whatever.

The problem with Kid Rock is not just that his music fucking sucks, although it does. He does a terrible Skynyrd-by-way-of-Limp-Bizkit mix of rap, country and rock that is significantly worse than all of those parts. One time he just did a shitty sing-rap over “Sweet Home Alabama” and pretended it counted as a new song (Kid Rock is from Michigan, by the way.) Even that song was his last significant hit, and it was a decade ago, so it’s not like he’s current. But hey, whatever, somebody likes his music.

Kid Rock is a vocal supporter of the Republican Party of the United States; he initially endorsed somnambulant brain surgeon Ben Carson before deciding he liked Donald Trump in 2016. More generally, Kid Rock regularly uses the Confederate battle flag on stage and in his iconography, and has sold t-shirts where red states are marked as “America” and blue states as “Dumbfuckistan”. More than once he’s gone with “fuck Colin Kaepernick” as a crowd-pleasing line at a concert.

Of course, the man born Robert Ritchie is entitled to his opinions like anyone else. But as one of those anyone elses, I’d rather the league I’m a fan of not make a headline choice out of someone whose public grandstanding is mostly about telling people like me to eat shit. More than that: a league that is predominantly white with predominantly white fans dug into the remainder bin of washed-up rock acts and decided to dig out Kid Rock in particular. Neat.

Before the tired response of “stick to hockey”, the league could have done as it often does and picked one of a thousand anodyne rock bands from the last thirty years, and it chose someone who is explicitly political. Fine. His politics are a middle finger to a hell of a lot of the fanbase, and I’d bet a hell of a lot of people who might be fans of the NHL are turned off by stuff like this. The NHL got ratioed on its own tweet announcing they’d picked him. Feel the enthusiasm!

More than anything, this is just tiring. If I’m left to follow my uncool, fourth-place league, that’s okay, I love hockey and I love watching it. I’d rather the league not go out of its way to show that it neither gives a shit about improving its popularity beyond its current demographic, nor about a lot of the fans it already has. But hey, I guess that’s too much to ask.

Man, fuck Kid Rock.