You can see it in his face: ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit didn’t want to cry on camera. But he couldn’t help himself.
As the College GameDay host talked about racism in America, he couldn’t help but sob.
College football returned on Saturday, even with much of the season in question because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. College GameDay is usually a raucous, fun show that travels to different colleges, but Saturday’s episode was more somber and focused on the anxious state of the nation.
Herbstreit said he spoke with Stanford coach David Shaw, who is Black, who cited a powerful Ben Franklin quote: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
Herbstreit then called on white folks to feel empathy and compassion for the Black community — and to act on those feelings.
“The Black community is hurting. If you’ve listened… How do you listen to these stories and not feel pain and not want to help?” Herbstreit said on air before breaking down in tears. “Wearing a hoodie. Putting your hands at 10 and 2. ‘Oh god, I’d better watch out because I’m wearing Nike gear.’ Like, what? What are we talking about? You can’t relate to that if you’re white, but you can listen and you can try to help. Because this is not OK. It’s just not.”
Herbstreit added while crying: “We gotta be better, man. We gotta like lock arm-in-arm and be together.”
It was a moving moment from Herbstreit, who is one of the most famous faces in college football. People on Twitter were quick to praise the strong emotion he showed on national TV. His ESPN colleague Maria Taylor could even be seen wiping away tears in the background.
Pretty raw, powerful moment hearing and seeing Kirk Herbstreit get choked up on live TV just now talking about social injustice issues in our society. Wow.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) September 5, 2020
Brilliant segment from Maria Taylor. Great thoughts from Desmond Howard, talking about the boycott he considered leading at Michigan. And then Herbstreit in tears … whew.
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) September 5, 2020