What Happened to Bob Costas?
To what can we attribute Bob Costas’s incredible lapse from his status as “most eloquent sports television persona?” I watched NBC’s Sunday Football Night in America telecast tonight, and not without some level of disgust. Many people have pointed out NBC’s lackluster product, i.e. its decision to confine their most highly-talented personality (Cris Collinsworth) to the “Toyota Halftime Show,” where he’s left to rot and shoot the bull with Costas and that other figurehead of (in) articulateness, Tiki Barber.
However, the real disturbing thing about the NBC telecast is the decline of Bob Costas. I remember a time when Costas was the quintessential articulate voice of national sportscasting. No one better provided a grammar to savor the greatness of Michael Jordan. His on-air prowess, especially is reputation to distill the turmoil of competition into pithy meditations that always seemed to transcend sports, was, in fact, so legendary that he appeared as himself in the linguistic tour de force / black exploitation film, Pootie Tang (2001).
Now, six years later, we see Costas seated alongside Collingworth and Barber. He’s shamelessly structuring dialogue and cracking jokes whose punchline doubles as an advertisement for the network’s sponsors. He’s awkwardly asking Tiki Barber to make a return to the NFL. But worse yet, he’s complicit in network television’s most suspect coverage of any professional sport in the United States today.
What happened to Bob Costas? A man who used to help us savor the tissue thin difference between a thing done well and a thing done ill is now hyperbolically demonstrating just how different these qualities actually are.