Back in December 2018, there was a media firestorm and a lot of online debate after an ESPN College GameDay piece from Tom Rinaldi featured Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa talking about pressure from his father Galu, including beatings with a belt for poor play. Plenty of viewers took exception to that, and to GameDay analyst Desmond Howard’s attempt to laugh it off with “I saw that his dad was like the Hawaiian version of Joe Jackson. ” Corporal punishment in general is a hotly-debated topic, something that gets even more hotly-debated if you throw in a belt, and there have since been plenty of arguments from Tagovailoa, his family, and others that this was an accepted approach at the time, but Tagovailoa’s father’s disciplinary practices are certainly controversial, to say the least.
Thus, it felt like a bit of an unusual choice for ESPN to run a NFL Draft ad Thursday that heavily focused on the Tagovailoa family:
Look, yes, there are absolutely people who have no problem with Galu Tagovailoa’s approach to disciplining his son, and this ad isn’t going to bother them one bit. Tua Tagovailoa himself also seems still close to his family and not troubled by his dad’s actions. But there are also a lot of people (including those who disagree with hitting a kid with a belt) who disagree with any form of corporal punishment (perhaps especially for athletic shortcomings), with quite a bit of research in support of that, and that became very clear in the discussion around that 2018 GameDay feature on Tagovailoa.
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