So Bob Costas appears at halftime on NBC's "Sunday Night Football" telecast to talk about the biggest news in football last weekend - the murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. Costas begins by rightfully ridiculing the "mindless sports cliche" that "something like this really puts it all in perspective." He then quotes extensively from a piece by FOX Sports columnist (and Charlotte Observer alum) Jason Whitlock. That piece includes this line, which Costas reads: "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would still be alive today."
Cue the outrage. Not at the substance of what Costas said. At the fact that he dared soil a sports event with his gun commentary.
"You tune in for a football game and end up listening to Bob Costas spewing sanctimonious dreck," tweeted former presidential candidate Herman Cain. On Fox's Morning Show "Fox & Friends," the hosts read letters from viewers critical of Costas. On the network's afternoon show, anchor Megyn Kelly led a debate about whether Costas should be fired for his out-of-place monologue.
Except that this is what Costas has been doing for years now, including on Sunday nights at halftime. He's talked about Jerry Sandusky and child molestation. He's criticized the International Olympic Committee for failing to honor the 11 athletes killed at the Summer Games in 1972. He regularly examines topics at the intersection of sports and society, sports and culture, sports and law. Often, it's worth a listen.
The uproar this time, of course, is about Costas and gun control, not Costas having an opinion. But just in case, a tip for future viewing: Costas might talk again Sunday about an issue that's not strictly sports-related. If you don't like it, take that time to tuck your kids in, refill your beverage, whatever. The game will be back on soon enough.
Peter St. Onge
Tuesday, December 4, 2012