Bob Costas: Caitlyn Jenner's ESPYs Courage Award Is "Crass Exploitation Play"

Wesley Mann

The NBC Sports anchor said his opinion "is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner."

Bob Costas criticized the selection of Caitlyn Jenner to receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs, calling it "a crass exploitation play."

The NBC Sports broadcaster told The Dan Patrick Show on Monday that the award, which will be presented at the ESPYs in July, could have gone to someone "who was much closer actively involved in sports."

"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 over the airwaves. "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. That’s not to say it doesn’t take some measure of personal courage to do what Caitlyn Jenner has done."

Costas said that the decision to give Jenner the Arthur Ashe Award "is just a play to pump up audience."

"I think 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," Costas told the hosts, CBS reported. "I think this is just 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."

The award is presented to athletes whose efforts extend past the sports world.

When the honor was announced on June 1, Maura Mandt, the ESPYs' show producer, said in a statement that Jenner's public transition "can help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces."

Former award recipients include Michael Sam, Robin Roberts and Muhammad Ali. The award will be presented July 15 during the ESPYs at Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.

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