|FILE - This Nov. 17, 2010 file photo shows sports commentator Bob Costas at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights 2010 Ripple of Hope Awards Dinner at Pier Sixty in New York. Costas stirred up a hornet's nest Sunday with a halftime commentary about Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher's murdering his girlfriend (and the mother of his child), followed by his own suicide. "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun," Costas told a TV audience of more than 20 million, "he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today." (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, file)|
Did Costas overstep his bounds with gun comments?
Even so, it may be that Costas crossed a line by bringing politics into his football coverage.
But it wasn’t the first time a hot-button issue had been pressed in a sports broadcast. In 2003, conservative radio superstar Rush Limbaugh resigned from a brief stint on the panel of ESPN’s ‘‘Sunday NFL Countdown.’’ His departure followed his race-tinged comments about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
‘‘Sports people say they don’t want any politics involved,’’ Limbaugh said in a Tuesday commentary addressing the Costas affair (where he cracked ‘‘I don’t blame Bob Costas. I blame the microphone").
Limbaugh said there had been no provision in his deal with ESPN not to bring up politics. ‘‘But I never asked to be able to, either. It wasn’t even on my mind.’’
Keeping sports and politics in separate spheres may be less and less possible in a world that breeds opinions and crossbreeds its performers.
In his Salon column, David Sirota noted that boundaries are disappearing between sports, culture, entertainment and politics: ‘‘Modern America is a place where an actor can become president, a pro wrestler can become a governor, a football player can become a congressman, and a comedian can become a U.S. senator.’’ And (as he could've added) where a real estate mogul can become a TV host, political pundit and prospective presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, everyone is talking, with Costas only one among the chattering multitude. And that, of course, means there’s a danger of less and less time being set aside for listening.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier