Sound Off: Are Military Family Reunions at NFL Games a Good Idea?



Football season is gearing up and we all know what that means: time for military family reunions at halftime! We’ve already had a lively discussion here about the news that the NFL makes the Pentagon pay for a least some of those game time military tributes. Now comes a scathing post from sports tabloid site Deadspin that calls out the NFL for a surprise (or “surprise”) reunion between a Marine and his cheerleader wife during a St. Louis Rams preseason game, a moment the writer calls “peak b******t.”

Before anyone has an aneurysm, it’s clear that Deadspin is taking issue with the NFL and its teams, not the men and women who serve their country. If you don’t want to read their post, here’s a helpful summary in bullet-point form (all opinions expressed below are courtesy of Deadpsin news editor Tom Ley, not us):

  • The reunion was between Marine first lieutenant August Valentine and his wife, Rams cheerleader Candace Ruocco Valentine. The NFL tweeted the video embedded above and the media picked up on yet another heartwarming military reunion.
  • August Valentine’s overseas military service was a relatively cushy posting in South Korea. He wasn’t exactly placed in harm’s way by the USMC.
  • Valentine isn’t a working-class kid who joined the Marines to get a shot at a better life. He’s a member of the beer-making Busch clan, a family that has pretty much run St. Louis for generations. The Rams once played in a stadium named for his family.
  • Candace Valentine is also a proud 1-percenter. Her family is prominent in Illinois Republican politics and she once interned for Laura Bush at the White House. She doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the typical NFL cheerleader.
  • August and Candace were married at the Vatican. How many leathernecks do you know with the connections to set that up?
  • Candace thanks her “mom with a plan” on Facebook for helping make the surprise happen. That same mom is running for Congress and has already shared the video on her campaign pages.
  • There are literally thousands of military families who deserve a surprise reunion and the St. Louis Rams choose to honor an outlier family, one with money and power and political connections and the NFL presents the moment to America in a standard, pre-packaged way designed to give an increasingly controversial league a military halo.

Back to us: I don’t think we’re going to knock a guy who happens to be the rare member of the 1% who chooses to serve his country. But there are a couple of questions here: do these kinds of ceremonies let the rest of America pat itself on the back and feel like it’s “supporting the military” when they shed a sentimental tear? Are these moments the sports equivalent of reality TV, in that everyone knows it’s kinda fake and no one cares?

How do you feel about staged reunions at sporting events? Should the military take a stronger role in deciding which couples get reunited? Should sports teams stop trading on military families to make themselves look good? Or should everyone knock it off and enjoy the moment? Sound off!

  • DJ0302

    Definitely threw up in my mouth when I read about this.

  • KenLand

    Heck yes. While our military fight wars, the civilians go to the mall.

  • Jack

    KENLAND – is correct. Maybe the reunions will show the civilians that we are still fighting a war.

  • Yellow Devil

    As long as it’s genuine and the DOD isn’t paying the NFL for this kind of exposure…

  • Leon Suchorski

    One percenters? When I was in the Marines during Nam, I knew several guys who were millionaires. Yet we all were played up to be ignorant draftees. Most of the guys that I served with were either 4 year men, or had shipped over. The owner (today) of the San Antonio Spurs, was a multimillionaire before he enlisted in the Army. Most of the leaders of our revolution were rich. So where does it say that you have to be poor to be a patriot? Once you are in, we all count on each other to come back alive. This country owes a debt to it’s veterans that it will never pay, because it is cheap, and they are patriots.

  • USN Retired

    Frankly I would not have my reunion associated with a sports team. I am sure the NFL was paid for the honor.
    Yes Leon, the leaders of our revolution were rich! The rich didn’t want to pay taxes so they convinced the rest of us to go along with it and revolt. Funny how that works huh?

  • Yes, I would agree to have a reunion at least every game in the NFL during halftime!!! You want to know why?! It makes people who are attending the game live or just watching at home to appreciate. Because if it wasn’t for the U.S. Troops there wouldn’t be any freetime for citizens of America to even attend a football game!

  • Matt

    Fist, a correction. The real 1% are members of the armed forces. The Occupy claim was incorrect, its 4%. So, redact all mention of the 1% where it is pertaining to those with money. Staged or not, it gives the average American a chance to interact and see military service members and get the story out. For those who wish for a wedding at the Vatican, its easy and happens all the time-rich, poor, and middle-income-all have weddings at the Vatican. Just plan ahead and bring your priest.

  • bluetwo

    I personally don’t see anything wrong with doing the reunions during halftime, and as the old saying goes” If you dont stand behind our soldiers, feel free to stand in front of them”

  • artymgysgt

    I think all of these “made for T.V. moments” are overblown and the reunions should be private .There have been millions of family reunions over the years that take place without the need for network news to play a part

  • lmillert

    I have no problem with honoring our military this way. Sometimes I think it gets a little overdone. My problem is my oldest son (3 children all serving) was killed in Iraq in 2005 and his daughters 7 and 11 at the time have to see things like this and I know I think what if. So let them do it, we will suck it up.

  • wtpworrier

    I don’t see how it’s a bad idea…I mean, a Military Family Reunion anywhere is a good idea!!!