Bob Costas Blasts ESPN for Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPYS Courage Award: “Crass Exploitation Play”

Bob Costas
Bob Costas slammed ESPN for its decision to give Caitlyn Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPYS  Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Bob Costas is very happy for Caitlyn Jenner — but he's also very against giving her the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPYS in July. Calling into The Dan Patrick Show on Monday, June 8, the veteran broadcaster said he thinks there are other athletes who may be more deserving than Jenner, and that ESPN's choice feels like buying into the "Keeping Up With the Kardashians culture."

Costas, 63, made sure to stress that he has no personal qualms with the former Olympian, 65, who debuted as a transgender woman on the cover of Vanity Fair earlier this month. His objection, he said, is to ESPN's decision to single her out as the utmost example of courage in sports.

"Bruce Jenner, who I did not know well, I always had a cordial and pleasant relationship with," he began. "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."

caitlyn jenner vanity fair cover

That said, he believes awarding Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is "just a crass exploitation play" on ESPN's part. "It's a tabloid play," he told Patrick. "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've found someone who is much closer to [being] actively involved in sports who would've been deserving of what that award represents."

He continued: "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 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."

Costas further argued that Jenner's selection was a ploy for ratings. "I think this is just a play to pump up audience, the way lots of things are put on television, to attract eyeballs," he said, "not because of the validity but because of whatever the kind of gawker factor is." 

Jenner, for her part, has not commented on Costas' remarks. She did acknowledge the ESPYS honor on Twitter, however, sharing a link to ESPN's story about it and quipping, "What the hell am I going to wear?"

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