By Derek Johnson
As I type this it’s Saturday morning and I’ve got ESPN Game Day on the TV. I just turned the sound down, as they began their weekly Tom Rinaldi segment. I’ve got some jazz on in the background now.
American society as we know it is being emasculated with each passing year, and ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi is a symptom of the cause.
Each Rinaldi segment features somebody that died from cancer, is dying from cancer, whose father died from a rare disease, some player that got run over by a tractor, or some other tragedy related to a player or coach from the college football landscape.
I’ve never liked Rinaldi but have never given it much thought. But as I was listening to a recent edition of the Husky Half Brains podcast, co-host Race Bannon pointed out how much he can’t stand the Rinaldi segments. He talked about how the only thing he wants to do on Saturdays is enjoy a day of watching college football. Do football fans need to be subjected to these formulaic tear-jerker stories week after week?
It really struck me this morning that I feel the same way. College football is one of the last bastions of masculinity in America. We get enough tragedy and misery as it is during the week in news reports found on TV and the internet.
Right now I just glanced at the screen again and the Rinaldi segment seems to be wrapping up. Some bearded middle-aged guy is sobbing and tears are running down his flushed cheeks. There’s no doubt that he probably has good reason to be sad, but that’s not the point.
The point is that context is everything. Running an occasional story telling of someone’s tragedy is fine. But weekly, formulaic segments that actively seek out and exploit tragedy is something that lacks integrity and doesn’t give people what they really need on a Saturday morning. It allows for “Oprah Moments” to seep into all areas of society, in a time when we need less examples of vulnerability and more examples of what it means to be a strong man.
Note to ESPN: Put an end the Rinaldi segments. Leave the Oprah Moments to the talk shows and news shows. Just give us college football.