Bruce “Call Me Caitlyn” Jenner spurred another controversial firestorm with the announcement of being awarded ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the upcoming ESPYs. Jenner, who swapped athletics for acting in commercials and TV shows shortly after the 1976 Olympics, is being given the award despite many other deserving people who have shown courage in the face of adversity, such as Mount St. Joseph University basketball player Lauren Hill, who battled terminal brain cancer yet continued to play basketball.
When interviewed on the Dan Patrick radio show (simulcast on NBC Sports Channel), NBC sportscaster Bob Costas was asked for his take on the ESPY-Jenner brouhaha. He started out by wishing Jenner well (the PC thing to do): “I’m hoping not to be misunderstood. I wish Caitlyn Jenner well, and anyone seeking to find the identity they are comfortable and to live the happiest possible like without intentionally hurting anyone else.”
But Costas also felt concerned that the award was being given to Jenner as a tabloid play:
“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 ward represents.”
Ending the segment, Costas then said there are far more candidates who closely fit the bill when it comes to the receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award:
“That doesn’t say 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 promising people, and kids in high school, and amateur athletes who more closely fit the description of what they are looking for or should be looking for. But I think it’s just a way to pump up the audience play the way lots of things are put on TV to attract lots of eyeballs not because of the validity, but because of whatever the gawker factor is.”