Mon. Apr 19th, 2021

Tom Rinaldi: I Am Too Thin-Skinned For Social Media

“I know there is great value to it, especially in what we do. I know it is a way to connect with people and social media can do a lot of good, but that first sting when I wasn’t even trafficking it, it was so beyond the pale harsh that I didn’t want to traffic in that.”

It is Masters week and while Tom Rinaldi will not be covering The Masters this year since he is now at FOX Sports, the StuPodity podcast  gave him the opportunity to talk about it on one of this week’s episodes. 

At the beginning of the podcast, StuGotz and Mike Antoniou were talking about how Rinaldi has the ability to tell stories that make people feel emotional and sometimes make you want to shed a tear. Rinaldi gave the duo a good answer as to how in a divisive time, people want to be inspired and he hopes the stories he tells can help people as they look for positivity.

“I like to think there are more shades and colors on the palette than that,” Rinaldi said. “It really isn’t me. When you tell stories in sport where people are already invested, that’s the magic of it. We live in such a divisive time and the one institution which by design is meant to divide. Yet, the institution has found a way to unify, to call people together, to have people experience something communally. People want to be moved. They want to be inspired. They want to feel. If you are already invested, I don’t know if it’s that great a leap.

“Digitally, when you open your newsfeed these days, you aren’t seeing a lot of stories of greatness and striving and accomplishment. You see a lot of stories of strife, difficulty, of loss, and pain. Greatness, whether you assign it any value, is chronicled in the sports column. As a record of human achievement, I think that is pretty incredible.” 

Throughout the podcast, Rinaldi tells great stories of playing Augusta with a great friend and taking in the friend’s emotional experience or an embarrassing moment talking to the late Jerry Sloan, he also mentioned a sad, serious story about why people won’t get to see him on social media. 

It was back in 2012 when there was a 20-minute delay during the Wimbledon final between Andy Murray and Roger Federer. ESPN decided to air a 10-minute feature on Murray’s hometown in Dunblane, Scotland. Murray was in the school when an infamous mass shooting happened in 1996. They went back to the town to ask people what it would mean if Murray were to win Wimbledon. An ESPN colleague showed Rinaldi what people were saying about the company’s decision to air the feature.

“In defense of our former colleague, I don’t think he understood the context. The tweet was ‘the last thing I want to see on a Sunday morning is Tom Rinaldi talking about dead children’. Right then and there, I knew. I am too thin-skinned, I see it as too much of a time suck, but I never ever wavered. I know there is great value to it, especially in what we do. I know it is a way to connect with people and social media can do a lot of good, but that first sting when I wasn’t even trafficking it, it was so beyond the pale harsh that I didn’t want to traffic in that.”

Rinaldi was a part of College Gameday at ESPN for 17 years and he gets asked on occasion what that show is all about and he mentions the bond that Kirk Herbstreit and Coach Lee Corso have. 

“I was asked what College Gameday was and to me, I gave an easy answer. It is Herbie’s hand on Corso’s forearm. That’s the thing we all desperately hope our family might be. That we will look out for each other, love one another. Herbie’s ability to simultaneously acknowledge, support, laugh at, and love Lee through everything. It is the thing which is his signature.”

I don’t think you will cry during this podcast, unless it is tears of laughter hearing Rinaldi’s Masters style promotion of the podcast. However, it is good to know more about the man that brings the inspirational stories to our television or social media feeds and allows us to take it in.

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