BRISTOL, Conn. (CBS Connecticut/AP) — Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas is not a fan of Caitlyn Jenner receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS next month.
Speaking to “The Dan Patrick Show” on Monday, Costas called it a “crass exploitation play.”
“It strikes me that awarding the Arthur Ashe Award to Caitlyn Jenner is just a crass exploitation play – it’s a tabloid play,” Costas 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. That’s not to say it doesn’t take some measure of person courage to do what Caitlyn Jenner has done.”
ESPN has received some criticism from the online world about giving the former Olympian the award for coming out as a transgender woman. Some critics championed Lauren Hill, the Mount St. Joseph basketball player who died from brain cancer at the age of 19.
Costas told Patrick that ESPN could’ve found an athlete who “more closely fit the description” of what the network was looking for in an Arthur Ashe Award winner.
“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 explained. “I think this is just 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.”
Despite his criticism over the award, Costas says he wishes Jenner well and believes we are “moving toward a more tolerant society.”
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is given to individuals whose contributions transcend sports. It will be presented July 15 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
Jenner says that for the first time in July she will be able to “stand as my true self in front of my peers.”
ESPY Awards show producer Maura Mandt says Jenner’s coming out “can help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces.”
Previous winners of the award include tennis player Billie Jean King, football player Michael Sam, the late basketball coach Dean Smith, and ABC broadcaster Robin Roberts.
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