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Caitlyn Jenner ESPY award an 'exploitation play' says Costas

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Veteran sportscaster Bob Costas ripped ESPN and called giving Caitlyn Jenner — the former Olympic hero Bruce Jenner who underwent gender reassignment recently — the Arthur Ashe Courage Award a “crass exploitation play” on Dan Patrick’s radio show Tuesday.

Costas was careful to try and not diminish Jenner’s very public transition, instead opting to stomp all over the sports network’s choice.

“I wish Caitlyn all the happiness in the world and all the peace of mind in the world. However, it strikes me that awarding the Arthur Ashe award to Caitlyn Jenner is just a crass exploitation play. It’s a tabloid play,” said Costas. “In the broad world of sports, I’m pretty sure they could have found — and this is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner — I’m pretty sure they could have found someone who was much closer to actively involved in sports, who would have been deserving of what that award represents. 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. 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.”

“It felt a little too reality show, tabloid show, you know, all of a sudden let’s just jump in with Caitlyn Jenner,” Patrick said.

Caitlyn Jenner (formerlyBruce Jenner) appears on the cover of Vanity Fair after gender transition.Annie Leibovitz exclusively for Vanity Fair

Caitlyn Jenner (formerlyBruce Jenner) appears on the cover of Vanity Fair after gender transition.

“It feels like, let’s buy in to the ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ culture that has overtaken a good part of the cultural landscape,” Costas said. “That’s a train that’s left the station and you and I can’t slow it down no matter how we feel about it.”

Patrick, a long time ESPN anchor before parting ways with the network, theorized that the ESPYs now seem to have some measure of legitimacy, because in his days there, no one cared about the show.

“Now we look at the ESPYs and say, ‘Well, now it’s got some legitimacy’ or — I don’t know, because I was there in the beginning when no one cared. We were paying people to show up at the ESPYs. You got an award if you showed up at the ESPYs.”

Bob Costas (c.) at a Brooklyn Nets game back in 2014.James Devaney/GC Images

Bob Costas (c.) at a Brooklyn Nets game back in 2014.

Many have suggested (as Patrick mentions here) Lauren Hill, the college basketball player who died of cancer recently — but used the remaining time of her life to raise awareness and money to fight the disease — would have been a better choice.

Producers of the contrived awards show are happy with their choice and standing by it, according to a CBS report: “ESPY Awards show producer Maura Mandt says Jenner’s coming out ‘can help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces.'”

(Note: The Jenner discussion starts at about the 8:00 mark of the video)


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