Bob Costas: Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPYs Award Is ‘Crass Exploitation Play’

Bob Costas
Tom Pennington/Getty

NBC sportscaster Bob Costas is criticizing ESPN’s decision to honor Caitlyn Jenner with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at next month’s ESPYs.

The veteran sports broadcaster called into “The Dan Patrick Show” radio program on Tuesday and described the network’s decision to honor the former Olympian as “a crass exploitation play.” Jenner won the gold medal in the men’s decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics.

“It strikes me that awarding the Arthur Ashe Award to Caitlyn Jenner is just a crass exploitation play — it’s a tabloid play,” he said. “In the broad world of sports, I’m pretty sure they could’ve found someone — and this is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner — who was much closer actively involved in sports, who would’ve been deserving of what that award represents.”

Costas said ESPN was essentially buying “into the ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ culture that has overtaken a good part of the cultural landscape.”

“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,” he added.

“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.”

Former Arthur Ashe Courage Award recipients include Billie Jean King, Michael Sam, Dean Smith, Muhammad Ali, four men who tried to prevent the 9/11 attack on Flight 93, Pat Tillman, Tommie Smith and John Carlos.

The ESPYs will air live on ABC on July 15.

Listen to the interview below.

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  1. snookrazy! says:

    Costas is spot on. Losing a limb and still competing is sports-related courage. Overcoming a debiliating injury to play again is sports-related courage. Tenderly nursing a sick child while trying to maintain a competitive outlook is sports-related courage. Donning a dress and a wig and grandstanding in nauseating fashion to secure another reality gig? Not courage. Anything but, in fact. The PC-inspired climate we live in once again has us hailing sexual confusion as a virtue.

    You want courage? Try the family dealing with the loss of a loved one that Jenner killed while driving recklessly back in February.

    How inane, empty beings such as Jenner and the Kardashians have become influential and even celebrated members of our socity is a mystery without answer. What a hopeless, blind, misled, pitiful caraciture of our former selves we have become.

  2. Bob Boyd says:

    Costas is apparently angling to be recognized as the most pompous commentator since Howard Cosell. He’s closing in fast.

  3. Chris Kalafus says:

    I have to disagree. If you look back over the years, the recipients are from a very diverse group. Do you know who was the recipient last year? Look it up. You might think differently about who should get this award.

    The group includes: gay women, gay men, political activists, terminally ill athletes, inspiring coaches and volunteers….on and on. Sure ESPN could have easily found a war hero, a terminally ill inspiration, a great leader/ athlete or scholar. I’m sure every year there are hundreds of choices but this year Caitlyn is relevant, inspirational and appropriate.
    First of all, Bruce was one of the greatest athletes of his day. He was looked on as THE greatest athlete in the world ( not to mention, he changed the way athletes were used in marketing). What he accomplished was astonishing and now that we know what he secretly carried with him every day makes it even more astonishing. Can you imagine what it was like for little Bruce to grow up in the 60’s and 70’s feeling what he was feeling? There were no “role models” for him to draw inspiration from and he endured his feelings alone, no parents, family, friends or even doctors or therapists to help him cope.
    Caitlyn IS an inspiration and not only represents the transgender community but is also a role model for a segment of society that has the highest rate of suicide. Every day misunderstood young people are killing themselves because parents, family, friends and overall, society doesn’t accept who they are. This award is the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and what Caitlyn did is very courageous. She could have easily continued on as Bruce and the world would never have known the lifelong struggle she has bravely endured. That would have been the easy way out. Can you imagine the torture and how agonizing this decision was to make? The risk of losing his children, wife and extended family. Plus knowing the hate, discrimination, ridicule and jokes that she would be the target of. Every day there are young people who are losing their loved ones and friends, are ridiculed, harassed and tortured because they feel different from us. I believe Caitlyn’s bravery is saving young lives and that her choice was a very courageous and unselfish act. None of us can possibly understand the pain, loneliness and despair Bruce had to endure and I only hope, as Caitlyn she can finally find peace. I will watch the ESPY’s and cheer as Caitlyn is given the Arthur Ashe Award.

  4. Orl says:

    Bravo for Bob Costas for lashing at Caitlyn Jenner receiving the award. It’s all an attempt to promote his show a week after the ESPYS. I don’t know if the Jenners or Kardashians orchestrated or engineered this shameless calculated move. Bob is all about the respect of this award and he believes that others like the late Lauryn Hill should have received it. Caitlyn receiving this award is even to the tabloid, TMZ society of entertainment and the floods of reality shows crowding cable networks now. But it’s all an attempt to pump up the audience in a boring portion of the show with its shock value and Bob is strongly against that. Bob’s outspokenness on the controversial sides of sports personalities and athletes is right on point!

  5. Jeff Foster says:

    He’s just a female? This whole thing screams of attention seeking behavior and childhood trauma.Whatever, not my problem, but it certainly doesn’t need to be dominating my news outlets…after 5 months especially. Let…it….go.

  6. Bill B. says:

    Despite so many inaccurate thoughts here on Jenner (he is not gay, he is not a drag queen and some need to understand what a transgender is), but I agree with Costas. Jenner hasn’t done anything in the sports world in years that I am aware of, there are certainly more worthy recipients and this is clearly ESPN cashing in on the publicity machine. Actually, I’m very surprised that the public won’t let this story go. It seems like something that would just fade away due to a lack of interest, but in a society that seems incomprehensibly and endlessly fascinated by all things called Kardashian, I guess nothing should surprise me.

  7. C.Wilson says:

    Thank you Bob for saying what most people think and are to afraid to say it!

  8. h. haynes says:

    Bob is definitely correct , the facst are this award has nothing to do with what bruce jenner has portrayed himself as !!!

  9. Patricia Mestre says:

    Awarding Jenner the award is absurd. His behavior has been deceitful, hurtful, self serving and COWARDLY. He was dishonest to all three of his wives. He cross dressing and secretly socialized as a woman in all three marriages. Living a double life is tantamount to committing adultery. A courageous person would have come clean with his wife’s. Withholding the facts of his psychological dilemma was selfish. I doubt any one of them would have chosen to have his children had they known. Ah and the kids, despite anything they may say about supporting him/her, they are hurt and confused. Courageous, I think not. He’s just another drag queen.

  10. billyj79 says:

    Agree with Bob, if Jenner truly had courage he would have come out years ago, it is all about the money now. (Is Kris K Jenner’s manager still?)

  11. Paully says:

    Speaking of Crass..

  12. Jonni Bashivasinger says:

    I think Costas is right 100%. Another reason why they are giving him the award is because they want to see Bruce Jenner walk out there with a dress on and hear his effeminate voice and laugh. You have to read between the lines. He was laughed at when he won the gold in the decathlon and walked like a woman hahaha. And yes, I said Bruce. He was born male and just as he has the “right” to identity as female, I have the right to call him/her/It whatever I want. He will always be a he to me. Anyways, I won’t be watching. US culture is such a joke. What will they exploit next? hermaphrodites?

  13. Anika says:

    Women do not get to compete in the Olympic decathalon. They get a heptathlon, less pay and are told they are too old to be a magazine/tabloid cover girl. When ratings start to slip you will probably hear that she has a positive BRAC and will be getting a mastectomy. Real heroes face their challenges away from the cameras.

    • Sandy Muller says:

      Because women in sports are boring and don’t draw crowds. It’s business! Am I wrong? Seriously! Can you really answer w/ facts? Nope just pablum. The American public has spoken and they find lady sports lame. I know beefy masculine women might like lady sports but everybody else that has an actual life? Zzzzz

      • Chris Kalafus says:

        Yeah… Sunday’s World Cup was boring. Stop with your ummm…. Pablum?? Lol. Nice “trite” word.

      • Anika says:

        The 2 Olympic events that are hardest to get tickets to are ladies gymnastics and figure skating. They are also considered the biggest viewer draw which is why they are saved for prime time viewing.

  14. Gene of Aquitaine says:

    I must agree with Costas, the whole Jenner transformation is crass and exploitative, while I support Caitlyn and her journey…the constant cameras rolling and salacious nature of presentation seems more likely to sadly set the transgender acceptance and understanding movement back and leaving the whole Caitlyn Jenner affair just a circus sideshow

  15. David Benjamin says:

    Even though Bob is the LAST person to talk about people and their appearance..have you taken a gander at HIS mug lately?..I have to, GRUDGINGLY, agree with him. This is a pure publicity stunt garnered off the pop of the Whoreassians! Caitlyn hasn’t had any connection with sports in almost 40 years! She doesn’t deserve the Arthur Ashe award. Ftr..I always thought Arthur was gay/in the closet. To die from a bad blood transfusion is a terrible shame

  16. Lacey says:

    Right…. Because Robin Roberts is an active sportswoman. Oh wait… funny how no one complained when she won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award last year. Can you imagine THAT reception? “Ugh, I mean, I know she has cancer and I GUESS it’s courageous for her to publicly battle it for the third time but there are just SO MANY ATHLETES who deserve it more.”

    These remarks, and all the ones like them, are just pathetic attempts at veiling transphobia.

  17. JF Foster says:

    I agree with Bob here, so many people are actively doing things in sports NOW that are far more deserving.

  18. 4 publicity says:

    Caitlyn/Bruce doesn’t represent the experiences of the majority of trans people,” said Laura Erickson-Schroth, an LGBT health and public psychiatry fellow with Columbia University. If she was true to herself she would NOT talk about it in Segments on a tv will do more harm to transgenders.. Look at Chaz Bono he is actually helping others NOT selling his story to pay his mortgage..

  19. goawayjenner says:

    Agree with Costas. The he/she dick plus tits devil should just shut the F up and leave normal America alone.

    • H.M. says:

      Bwahaha. And you represent “normal” America? Well, you are exhibiting hate & limited cognitive chops… so maybe you do represent a “certain” though aging into further irrelevance American.

  20. Alex says:

    I agree with him…today. Tomorrow I’m sure he’ll say something to piss me off.

  21. Finally some Speaksout says:

    Bruce/Caitlyn gets boob job is confused still has his man parts and is declared a HERO.Other transgenders are condemning Bruce for his portrayal, no other transgender person has the support or money like he/she does. He/She is exploiting the situation all for his/her needs. ESPN is using this as a ratings high. Bruce/Caitlyn has admitted in an interview he wont deny the MONEY cause he still has a mortgage..A young girl with Cancer was a HERO til the end. Noah Galloway a HERO til he lost his limbs.

  22. Jacques Strappe says:

    Well, I think in the spirit of Arthur Ashe who died of AIDS and the discrimination he faced, the choice of Caitlyn Jenner is not awful. There will always those who arguably believe others are more worthy candidates regardless of who is ultimately chosen for this award. Bruce Jenner was an amazing athlete and now she is the face of transgendered individuals who face enormous ridicule and discrimination. I lost track of all the hateful and vile remarks I read on the Variety wewbsite when Jenner first appeared as Caitlyn. My only issue with Jenner is her association with the worthless reality show family, The Kardashians who I find absolutely repulsive. So, get over it, Bob Costas. You aren’t working for the number one sports cable station in the country and no one cares about your opinion anyway.

    • Caitlyn Jenner is NOT the face of a movement, and has practically none of the problems they face on a daily basis, not a shred of the same experience. She’s the face of the mindless twittersphere of what used to be soccer moms – well now they’re Twitter moms, but the kids are too fat for soccer now. And it’s their duty to call out all things sexist and racist in the world… of celebrity interviews. Jenner is the face of the has-been People magazine, limping along in embarrassment.

      It seems like this award has become a political tool from now on, and will serve as a lightning rod for the pitiful ESPY’s.

    • Coco says:

      Arthur Ashe died of AIDS contracted from a blood transfusion, not from homosexuality. He was a married man with children, and a sports legend. He has no connection whatsoever to the gay agenda.

      • Awesome says:

        Plus, W hore, with a name like Jacques Strappe everyone knows where you little mind is. Coco is EXACTLY right.

      • Jacques Strappe says:

        Does it matter how he contracted AIDS? At the time, he was as feared and loathed as anyone else with the disease that people associated with gay men only and thought it could be transmitted by touch and public toilet seats. WTF is the “gay agenda” you crass w_hore?

  23. Guy says:

    Just wait and see the show. I predict, based on the comments, and on Costas’ statement, that there will be booing and hisses from some in the audience.
    When it comes to sexuality, the sports world is all about men and their conquests. Gays and transgender people make most athletes very uncomfortable.

    • snookrazy says:

      Here’s a little truth sandwich for you: homesexuals and especially transgender people make many if not most folks uncomfortable. Doesn’t mean we hate them, or wish them harm, or see them as lesser beings, etc. The average hetero person simply can’t understand a craving for the same sex or a desire to disfigure themselves to “become” another gender. And we never will…no matter how hard militant gays and PC-inspired imbeciles try to change that fact via relentless media campaigns, legislation, etc.

      It’s the prerogative of gays and transgender folks to try and push their sexual preferences as normal and mainstream. Just as it’s the prerogative of heterosexual folks to dismiss that agenda.

  24. Coco says:

    So a 19-year old girl heroically plays for her team while battling and eventually dying from brain cancer and ESPN decides the more worthy candidate is a man who hasn’t been associated with sports for 40 years and has decided to dress and act like a woman. That’s just a damn shame and an embarrassment to ESPN, ABC, Disney and humanity in general.

  25. witzshared says:

    Right on Costas!!

  26. Looyie says:

    Costas is exactly right. This is pure publicity for a remarkably unheroic man with a mental disorder. ESPN and ABC should be embarrassed and it is good to see so many calling them out for this sham.

  27. MarinDem says:

    You mean just like you did to get your piece of the publicity on the Jenner matter. LOL Stick to what you know. This award going to Jenner allows many Transgender Youth who are totally ignored, harassed, bullied, beaten and often commit suicide a role model that may prevent them from having to wait decades to claim their role in the world. Do you realize that Arthur Ashe was a member of the LGBT community who had to hide who he was until he contracted AIDS forcing him to come out and become a role model. Get A Grip Costas and move your tired old act into the 21st Century!

    • JustME says:

      Who told that nonsense ????? Auther Ashe wasnt gay and if he was he never came out. In fact, the reason he didnt want to tell people he had aids was because back then if someone had aids everybody automatically thought you was gay, and he didnt want to be associated with that. When Magic got it, he would rather admit to cheating on his wife with hundreds of woman, then not admitting it and everybody thinking he is gay

    • schmit1993 says:

      Ashe got AIDS from a bad blood transfusion. Not everyone with AIDS is gay. Magic Johnson, last I heard, was pretty straight

    • Missy says:

      Ahh, the old “but they will commit suicide” defense. That’s as old as “it’s normal” and “10 percent of the population” B.S. Just hot, exaggerated air, as usual.

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