NBC Sports announcer Bob Costas appeared on "The Dan Patrick Show" this week and said that ESPN's decision to give Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award was a "crass exploitation play."
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award has been given out at the ESPYs since 1993. Former NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano (cancer) and former NFL star Pat Tillman (war hero) are two of the more memorable winners of the award. Gay football player Michael Sam won the award in 2014.Here is a transcript of Costas' appearance:
Costas: Alright again, I'm hoping to not be misunderstood. Bruce Jenner, who I did not know well, I always had a cordial and pleasant relationship with. I wish Caitlyn Jenner well and anyone - even if most of us do not fully understand it - anyone seeking to find the identity they're comfortable with and to live the happiest possible life without intentionally hurting anyone else, I think we're moving toward a more tolerant society and that's all for the good, and I wish Caitlyn all the happiness in the world and all the peace of mind in the world.
However, it strikes me that awarding the Arthur Ashe Award to Caitlyn Jenner is just a crass exploitation play. It's a tabloid play. In the broad world of sports, I’m pretty sure they could’ve found — and this is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner — I'm pretty sure they could have found someone who was much closer actively involved in sports, who would’ve been deserving of what that award represents.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t take some measure of personal courage to do what Caitlyn Jenner has done, but I think that every year we look across the landscape of sports, and we find prominent people and kids in high school and amateur athletes who I think more closely fit the description of what they’re looking for or should be looking for there. And I think this is just a play to pump up audience. The way lots of things are put on television, to attract eyeballs, not because of the validity, but because of whatever the gawker factor is.
Patrick: Yeah. And I looked at Lauren Hill the basketball player - I mean it's all exploitative [at the ESPYs] in a way because of the award show. You know, now we look at the ESPYs and say now it's got some legitimacy. Because I was there in the beginning when nobody cared. We were paying people to show up at the ESPYs, you got an award if you showed up at the ESPYs ...
Costas: Yeah. We'll give it to you because the first three guys that we wanted to give it to won't show up but if you show up we'll give it to you and make it look like you were the first choice."
Patrick: Yeah. And what Arthur Ashe stood for. There's a cancer, there's a Stuart Scott Award, and I guess, you can still honor people. I was with ya, it just felt a little too 'reality show,' 'tabloid show' that all of the sudden let's just jump right in with
Costas: It feels like 'let's buy in with the Keeping up with the Kardashians culture that has overtaken a good part of the cultural landscape. That's a train that's left the station and you and I can't slow it down no matter how we feel about it.