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Here's the Problem With Reunion Porn

The problem, my dear American major sports leagues, isn't that you did something nice for a service member or his family. The problem is that by doing this one nice thing, you perpetuated the idea that by being a spectator of the niceness, the American public had checked the "help a military family" box and were then done.

Please stop with the reunion porn, please just stop.

We've seen it (and gotten a little misty-eyed). Unsuspecting family attends football game (or some other event). Football game officials surprise family with presence of long-absent service member. Everyone is thrilled. People cheer. Warm fuzzy feelings abound. We are all happy. The end.

Except for the rest of us, those of us who know what military support needs to be to really mean something because we are living it day in and day out, the truth behind the reunion porn can feel like a slap in the face. By watching it civilians and the corporations that are showing it feel like they've been a part of our lives.

And they just haven't.

Reunion porn -- all the good feelings for spectators with none of the commitment. http://wp.me/p1d7d0-8KU

It's a nice gesture, if only on the surface.

A surprise military homecoming at a recent St. Louis Rams game was barely that. While I don't begrudge any military family a wonderful reunion -- regardless of who they are -- that the Rams franchise picked this couple for the televised "honor" speaks to the broader problems of trading on military service for good feelings and influence. The returning Marine Lt. in question is a member of the high-powered Busch family. The wife surprised by his return, also a Marine Lt., was a Rams cheerleader -- but not just any cheerleader. Her mother is running for a State house seat in Illinois and is now using the video as campaign fodder. Oh, and, according to DeadSpin the pair was married at the Vatican. Because that makes them totally normal.

In short: well-connected couple receives favor from wealthy sports franchise that is then used to make everyone involved look extra awesome.

That's just fantastic.

I've been assured by at least one person involved in a different, lower visibility sports league that it is often the service member that comes to them with the idea. And that's awesome that they are able to hook a family up. But that's not the stuff you see replayed on Fox News, is it? The local team doing a solid for a local family isn't the problem.

What I would like to see is this: the NFL hosts a surprise homecoming ... and then runs a PSA about how viewers can reach out to military veteran neighbors. Or the NFL hosts a surprise homecoming ... and then gives the USO (or another non-profit) a spot to ask for donations.

How hard would that be? Put some money where your feel good public relations on the back of military families spot is.

But that's not what we get. Instead we get reunion porn -- all the good feelings with none of the commitment.

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