Move over Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson -- there's a new contender for most controversial halftime show ever.
Halfway through a lacrosse game between the Boston Blazers and the Edmonton Rush, the music started pumping and the Blazers' mascot, Scorch, sat down in a chair on the field. Shortly thereafter Scorch was approached by several scantily clad "fans" who proceeded to give him a lap dance in what was billed as a "promotional event."
Someone in the audience took a cell phone video and posted it to YouTube. In the video, you can hear people saying "Oh my God." Young children can be seen in the seats.
Faster than you can say Facebook Fan page, the Blazers site started heating up with comments, some calling the scene no big deal and others expressing outrage.
Boston Blazers' President Doug Reffue posted an apology on the team website that reads in part, "The halftime act was not executed as we expected. … As a father myself it is important to me to rectify the situation." The Blazers are now offering 2,000 free tickets and have hired a p.r. agency to do some damage control.
However, National Lacrosse League Commissioner George Daniel did agree to talk and said, "Obviously we feel it was an error in judgment." Although Daniel added that he didn't think calling the scene a "lap dance" was accurate because "what went on there is probably not more graphic than what you see dance teams do sometimes."
Whatever you want to call it, it's the biggest story to hit the National Lacrosse League in, well, forever. And it's not going to make it any easier for the NLL to sell itself as family entertainment – which it desperately wants to do.
The 10 teams that are part of the league draw an average of 10,000 fans a game. Almost all the players hold day jobs and play for the league on a part time basis. The average salary is about $1,000 a game. Compare those numbers to the average Major League Baseball salary of nearly $3 million in 2009.
Still, scandal or not you can't beat the price. The Blazers website offers a blazin' good deal: four tickets to a game, hamburgers, french fries and soft drinks a mere $99.00. Compare that to an afternoon at Fenway Park which – depending on the seats – could cost the average family $500 dollars not include parking. On the plus side, though, it's unlikely Wally the Green Monster, the Red Sox mascot, would ever be allowed to sit for a lap dance.
Today, Daniel, the league commissioner, is trying to look on the bright side of this public relations disaster. "Yes, we would like more mainstream coverage, we would like to be the lead story on ESPN but that doesn't happen … so if people did find out about the Blazers through this … in the long run it's a good thing."