Bob Costas, best known for his coverage of the Olympics for NBC, has criticized ESPN for giving Caitlyn Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at next month's ESPYs.
Variety reports that Costas called into The Dan Partrick Show radio program on Tuesday and said that the network's decision to honor Jenner, a former olympian, was "just 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," he 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."
Costas preempted his statements with some comments in support of the transgender community and remarked about his cordial relationship with Jenner before she transitioned. He then went on to say ESPN was buying "into the Keeping Up With the Kardashians culture that has overtaken a good part of the cultural landscape."
"That's not to say that it doesn't take some measure of personal courage to do what Caitlyn Jenner has done, but I think that 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," he added. "And I think this is 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."
Costas has a point: Jenner won the gold medal in the Men's Decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics and hasn't done much in the world of sports since. However, the Arthur Ashe Courage Award has always been about personality more than athletics. Previous winners include Michael Sam (he won it last year), Robin Roberts, Nelson Mandela, four men who tried to prevent the 9/11 attack on Flight 93, and Dewey Bozella, a wrongfully convicted amateur boxer whose conviction was overturned after 26 years.
Watch the full interview on The Dan Partrick Show below: