Tuesday, December 04, 2012


The following is my reaction to Bob Costas' controversial comments about the Kansas City Chiefs' Jovan Belcher's murder-suicide, and his echoing of Jason Whitlock's remarks not only about the incident itself, but about the 2nd Amendment right to own a gun.  The yellow text below is what was posted by me on a Bay Area media blog, Rich Lieberman 415 Media.

For background, here's the entire speech from NBC's Football Night In America on December 1, and here's the full text of Jason Whitlock's blog about the incident and its societal implications.

Bob Costas seems to me to be one of those guys who feels trapped in the well-feathered nest he's built for himself. He's made his solid reputation covering sports, but thinks that he's beyond silly games after so many years and wants to leave it behind. He would like to be Keith Olbermann or Bryant Gumbel (presumably minus the unjustifiably massive egos and reported personality disorders), but he can't make the transition until he first establishes his bonafides.

Remember that Costas previously dipped his toe into unsolicited social commentary in his coverage of Gabby Douglas' Gold Medal victory in the 2012 London Olympics, saying she was an inspiration to "African-American girls out there tonight who are saying, 'Hey, I'd like to try that too.'" Yeah, just one problem, Bob; Douglas was NOT the first black American to win a Gold. Dominique Dawes [pictured, second from left] won one as a member of the U.S. crew that won the team competition in 1996 - the year Douglas was born. People mostly remember the team nicknamed "The Magnificent Seven" for Kerri Strug [second from right]'s courageous vault on an injured ankle and coach Bela Karolyi's encouragement ("You cahn do eet!") The color barrier of Gold Medal achievement had been shattered by Dawes for over a decade and a half when Costas threw in his gratuitous footnote. He was fishing for an angle beyond the games themselves, but came up with a minnow.

Costas' Sunday remarks were more egregiously half-baked. With only a minute and a half to a commercial break, Costas started by chiding everyone for not being able to achieve sufficient "perspective" about tragedies that occur among sports figures with the exception of Kansas City sportswriter Jason Whitlock. In his Fox Sports.com blog, Whitlock blamed the death of Belcher and his girlfriend on the fact that he even had a firearm. Costas selectively quoted Whitlock, using these paraphrased quotes: "Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead ... In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions, and their possible connection to football, will be analyzed. Who knows? But here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe: if [Jovan Belcher] did not possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."

Costas seemed to want to reduce Whitlock's comments to the usual fretting about immature inner-city teenagers and intense family quarrels settled quickly and fatally. Costas didn't follow through on the full thrust of Whitlock's words, so allow me to fill in the blanks Costas didn't want attributed to him personally:

We’d prefer to avoid seriously reflecting upon the absurdity of the prevailing notion that the second amendment somehow enhances our liberty rather than threatens it ... How many lives have to be ruined before we realize the right to bear arms doesn’t protect us from a government equipped with stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons?

Whitlock wasn't only musing about skewed "perspective." He wasn't simply suggesting that people should choose not to own a gun. Whitlock was taking on the Supreme Court's definition of the Second Amendment, expanding the scope from the common perils of a loaded gun in a home to stereotypes of the few and far-between who hoard arms to protect themselves against a tyrannical federal government.

Again, Costas, in his haste to elevate his presence in our living rooms to The Big Picture Beyond Sports, eloquently and sincerely said something that sounded like it made perfect sense at first listen. Then, upon analysis, it was found wanting. President Obama (I'm not a fan) recently referred to such statements as "Shooting first and aiming later," if you'll pardon the expression.

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