We live in a society where it is extremely easy to be critical of people who make a living on television, especially the media. Many times we minimize the precision, preparation, and stress that it takes to go in front of a small screen audience. As I have said several times, I enjoy following members of the media and watching their careers develop, and yes, I am critical of many of them myself.
Although I enjoy following all media, I am a sports guy so naturally I have even a sharper eye on the men and women who have the opportunity to cover athletics. I have the people I enjoy and I also have the people I despise. One of these days I plan to write a post detailing my 3 most loved ESPN personalities along with my 3 most hated ESPN personalities. It should be quite a rather fun one that should garner some conversation from all of you.
But tonight’s post is about just one member of the sports media and this person doesn’t even work for ESPN. Rather, this person has served as the face for NBC Sports for many years and has too many Emmy Awards to count. He covers all major sporting events from the Olympics to Sunday Night Football and is widely respected among his peers and his viewing audience. His voice is distinctive, his face is unmistakable, and his credibility is unblemished. I am talking about Bob Costas.
I first became familiar with Bob Costas during the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta where I watched NBC’s coverage of the games as an awe-struck boy from the opening ceremonies all the way through to the closing ceremonies. To say the least, I got exposed to Bob a lot over those two and a half weeks as he covered all the primetime coverage (the 1996 games also introduced me to Greg Gumbel who was working for NBC at the time and anchored the daytime coverage). The way that Costas covered the games with the utmost clarity and respect was so evident that even a ten year old boy like myself could clearly see it.
Fast forward sixteen years later to the present time and Bob Costas is still doing incredible work. Still at NBC, still doing the marquee events, and still looking the exact same as he did back then, he is the best in the business. I think he stands out so much because of his professionalism. He covers everything with complete sincerity and reverence, he doesn’t mess up his lines and he is never caught off guard. He also can cover any event with complete impartiality. So many studio hosts and play by play announcers fail to do this as flawlessly as Bob does. He sets the stage perfectly for the audience to decide which way they will lean when it comes to a certain game or story. He delivers sports in the exact same way as I felt Tom Brokaw delivered the news. Costas never shows ego while on the air, he simply does his job and tells the story and then tosses it over to us to decide.
It is because of this impartiality and “goody-two-shoes” type personality of Bob Costas that I have become very fond of his commentary spots he is now given at halftime during the Sunday Night Football broadcasts. Although I love him for his unbiased and non-preaching ways, I equally enjoy his well-crafted weekly bites of wisdom that NBC gives him the chance to do. Last night he took a big shot at gun rights the day after the tragedy in Kansas City. Because I am friends with and follow a large amount of people from Montana (where gun rights are supported), my Twitter feed blew up with anger over his opinion. In fact, his little halftime sermon actually picked up quite a bit of national attention and criticism as well. Right or wrong, I just kind of admire the fact that Costas can be renowned for his superior straight arrow type broadcasting but every once in a while he can speak his mind and ruffle some feathers.
Bob Costas is a journalist in every sense of the word. Anyone who has any idea about sports knows that if he is covering an event, it is a big deal and that they are going to get a first class production. I think NBC has the perfect plan on utilizing Bob….have him cover sports in his impeccable impartial way 90% of the time and then let him loose for his commentary the other 10% of the time. Costas stands atop the mountain of sports journalism and I will forever watch him. Don’t Blink.