Bob Costas rips ESPN for giving Caitlyn Jenner its courage award
Shortly after Bruce Jenner unveiled her new identity and introduced herself to the world as Caitlyn Jenner, ESPN announced that it would be presenting the Olympic gold medalist with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs in July. Bob Costas thinks that is a shame.
During an interview with “The Dan Patrick Show” on Tuesday, Costas called ESPN’s decision to give Jenner the award a “crass exploitation play.”
“I wish Caitlyn all the happiness in the world and all the peace of mind in the world,” Costas said, as transcribed by Deadspin’s Tom Ley. “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 have found—and this is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner—I’m pretty sure they could have found someone who was much closer to actively involved in sports, who would have 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 ever 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 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 kind of gawker factor is.”
Costas also hinted that Jenner receiving the award could have something to do with her link to pop culture and the Kardashian clan.
“It feels like ‘let’s buy into the Keeping Up With The Kardashians culture that has overtaken a good part of the cultural landscape,'” he said. “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.”
As you would expect, ESPN’s decision to give Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award has sparked a polarizing debate. We already know one NBA player who would likely agree with Costas, albeit in a much more politically incorrect way.
We don’t know the exact criteria ESPN uses for determining the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, but Jenner was once an incredibly popular sports figure in America. It’s fine to think there are other people who are more deserving of the award, but the link to sports is certainly there.