Did Costas over­step his bounds with com­ments?

Sports­caster’s gun com­men­tary dur­ing half­time Sun­day drew rapid-fire re­sponses.

Austin American-Statesman - - C SPORTS - By Fra­zier moore TONY ave­lar / ap File

NEw YOrK — Clearly, Bob Costas stirred up a hor­net’s nest Sun­day with a half­time com­men­tary about Kansas City Chiefs player Jo­van Belcher, who killed his girl­friend (and the mother of his child) be­fore killing him­self.

On Twit­ter, some­one posed this ques­tion: “Who put Costas on in the mid­dle of a foot­ball game so he could spew his one sided be­liefs?” An­other tweeter sharply rec­om­mended Costas “stick to foot­ball ... the more you talk, the dumber you sound.” And on and on it went.

The mes­sage re­sounded: Bob Costas, just shut up.

All from this: “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.”

The rea­sons for the push­back were fa­mil­iar when a celebrity — be it mu­si­cian, sports­caster, even news an­chor — by­passes what the pub­lic be­lieves is that star’s area and ex­pounds on is­sues in the larger world. But as our world grows into a place where any­one with a smart­phone and an In­ter­net con­nec­tion can rant far and wide, celebri­ties, it seems, are still held to a higher stan­dard — or a dif­fer­ent one — than the rest of us.

Re­ac­tion to Costas’ re­marks was swift, with much of it harsh, rang­ing from the scold­ing hosts of Fox News Chan­nel’s “Fox & Friends” the next morn­ing to ag­i­tated sports fans typ­ing tweets as they watched him on NBC’s broad­cast of the Ea­gles-Cow­boys game.

Numer­ous rea­sons were ad­vanced for why Costas had no busi­ness weigh­ing in on the is­sue of gun own­er­ship (while oth­ers ex­pressed their sup­port for him).

But in an odd lapse of rea­son­ing, many of the opin­ion slingers who con­demned Costas blasted him for sim­ply voic­ing his opin­ion.

With that in mind, much de­bate sur­round­ing Costas’ com­men­tary has sought to tease out a dis­tinc­tion be­tween ac­cept­able opin­ion and opin­ions that are out of bounds.

It’s been said pol­i­tics and re­li­gion don’t mix. But the re­sponse to Costas’ com­men­tary sug­gests that, for many within earshot, sports are even more sa­cred.

If Costas played pol­i­tics for 90 sec­onds Sun­day night, it was on a much re­duced scale than those ex­am­ples.

Yet many peo­ple “in­sist that an NFL broad­cast is sup­pos­edly a sacro­sanct and there­fore apo­lit­i­cal space that must re­main free of ‘hot­but­ton is­sues,’” noted David Sirota in a Sa­lon col­umn on Tues­day. “But, then, in com­ment­ing on the Kansas City Chiefs mur­der-sui­cide, Costas was merely weigh­ing in on the big­gest NFL story of the day, which is ex­actly what he’s paid to do and what typ­i­cally hap­pens dur­ing an NFL half­time show.”

Were Costas’ re­flec­tions on when “ugly re­al­ity in­trudes upon our games” really so in­tru­sive and out­ra­geous?

Did his sta­tus as a pro­fes­sional com­men­ta­tor really dis­qual­ify him from shar­ing a thought about a tragedy that mil­lions of his fel­low Amer­i­cans were talk­ing about?

Should he really lose his job? (That was an opin­ion voiced on Fox News Chan­nel.)

“What I was talk­ing about here — and I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear to ev­ery­body — was a gun cul­ture,” Costas said in an ap­pear­ance on MSNBC’s “Last Word with Lawrence O’Don­nell” on Tues­day. “I never men­tioned the Sec­ond Amend­ment. I never used the words ‘gun con­trol.’ Peo­ple in­ferred that.”

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.”

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.

NBC’s Bob Costas says he was talk­ing about the ‘gun cul­ture’ dur­ing half­time of Ea­gles-Cow­boys game.

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