Did Costas overstep his bounds with gun comments?
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)
NEW YORK (AP) — 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 Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas 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.
Technology has leveled the playing field (so to speak) for distributing opinions and ideas to the world. Granted, most people don't have 20 million listeners at their command, as Costas did Sunday. But everyone can post a comment on any topic that, via social media, can reach a global audience.
Consumer feedback is solicited by media outlets and other organizations around the clock. A public forum for opinions that can span the world is guaranteed anyone in reach of a Wi-Fi connection.
And yet, in an era when widespread opining is deemed our basic human right, an opinion that is often leveled at others for doing so is "You should shut up!"
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 that politics and religion don't mix. But the response to Costas' commentary suggests that, for many within earshot, sports are even more sacred.
By this argument, a fractious world of partisan politics and cultural clashes has no place in the football sanctuary. Sports should be a refuge from life's harsher truths, a comfort zone for a special brand of clashing between rival teams. Here, Red State/Blue State differences can take a break and unite for a red-white-and-blue brand of partisanship.
So when politics encroaches on sports, it inevitably makes some fans queasy. Or livid.
Just recall President Jimmy Carter's controversial decision that the United States would boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. And at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, two U.S. athletes raised a black-gloved fist in a black power salute during the medal ceremony. The two African-American athletes were expelled from the Games.