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Behind the Broadcast: Halftime a fitting time for essay

Saturday, December 8, 2012
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NBC Sports broadcaster Bob Costas stirred up the pot last Sunday night.

At halftime of the Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys game on “Sunday Night Football,” Costas devoted his halftime essay to Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, who police said shot his girlfriend to death, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide last Saturday.

Here’s an excerpt from that essay.

“You knew it was coming. In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again, ‘Something like this really puts it all in perspective.’

“Well, if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games.

“Please. Those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports, would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective. You want some actual perspective on this? Well a bit of it comes from the Kansas City-based writer Jason Whitlock, with whom I do not always agree, but, who today, said it so well that we may as well just quote or paraphrase from the end of his article.

“ ‘Our current gun culture,’ Whitlock wrote, ‘ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it. In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions, [and its possible connection to football], will be analyzed. Who knows? But here, [wrote Whitlock] is what I believe. If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.’ ”

Twitter was ablaze with comments saying that Costas was supporting gun control, and that he shouldn’t use an NFL broadcast to air his views.

I won’t comment on whether or not Costas was right in his views about gun control because I don’t want anyone to read into my thoughts on it, which I prefer to keep to myself. However, I will support Costas in that he has every right to speak his mind.

We have something in the United States Constitution called freedom of speech. It’s part of the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment does give Americans the right to bear arms.

But it seems like we have forgotten about freedom of speech in this country. Both sides of the political spectrum don’t want to hear what the other side is saying, and try to shout each other down. So, when Costas delivered his essay, it struck a nerve with the gun supporters.

But I believe Costas has every right to give his opinion, whether you think it’s right or wrong. Again, I won’t comment on whether Costas’ comments were right or wrong because it’s not anybody’s business what I think about it. Plus, I’m not politically savvy.

With more than 30 years in broadcasting, Costas has earned the right to comment on issues. Unfortunately, the real world collided with the sports world. It has happened too often, dating back to my earliest memory of the terrorist attack on the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany.

Costas had to have the backing of NBC. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been allowed to give his essay.

And it was the right stage to do it. After all, “Sunday Night Football” draws incredible ratings.

So, give Costas credit for his essay. It’s up to you, and not me, to decide if he was right or not.

NHL network failure

While I won’t comment on gun control, I will make known my feelings about the NHL lockout — both sides have turned me sour on the league. Thursday’s breakdown of labor negotiations probably means the 2012-13 season won’t happen.

I wish we were able to watch the press conferences, or get news updates on NHL Network. Sadly, NHL Network has been giving us nothing but reruns of games ad nauseam.

NHL Network has a highlight show and a talk show. So, where are hosts like Kathryn Tappen and Deb Placey and analysts like EJ Hradek and Kevin Weeks?

When the league resumes play, whenever that will be, NHL Network needs to put together a news organization. The fans deserve to be in the know with the labor dispute.

Football schedules

Here are the upcoming games in the NFL and college football that will be on TV and the Internet. Announcers, in order of play-by-play announcer, analyst and sideline reporter, are in parentheses:

NFL

Sunday

FOX23 (WXXA) and FOX23 HD — Dallas at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. (Thom Brennaman/Brian Billick/Laura Okmin); New Orleans at N.Y. Giants, 4:25 p.m. (Joe Buck/Troy Aikman/Pam Oliver).

CBS6 (WRGB) and CBS6 HD — N.Y. Jets at Jacksonville, 1 p.m. (Kevin Harlan/Solomon Wilcots).

NBC13 (WNYT) and NBC13 HD — Detroit at Green Bay, 8:20 p.m. (Al Michaels/Cris Collinsworth/Michele Tafoya).

Monday

ESPN and ESPN HD — Houston at New England, 8:30 p.m. (Mike Tirico/Jon Gruden/Lisa Salters).

Thursday

NFL and NFL HD — Cincinnati at Philadelphia, 8:20 p.m. (Brad Nessler/Mike Mayock/Alex Flanagan).

College football

Today

ESPN and ESPN HD — FCS playoffs: quarterfinal, Georgia Southern at Old Dominion, noon (Clay Matvick/Matt Stinchcomb).

ESPNU and ESPNU HD — SWAC championship game: Jackson State vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 1 p.m.

CBS6 and CBS6 HD — Army vs. Navy, 3 p.m. (Verne Lundquist/Gary Danielson/Tracy Wolfson).

Friday

ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD — FCS playoffs: semifinal, teams to be determined, 8 p.m. (Tom Hart/John Congemi/Allison Williams).

bowl season

ESPN announced its 34-game college football bowl schedule Wednesday.

It will have all five Bowl Championship Series games, including the BCS championship matchup between Alabama and Notre Dame on Jan. 7.

The bowl season gets underway next Saturday with the New Mexico Bowl between Nevada and Arizona at 1 p.m., followed by the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl between Toledo and Utah State at 4:30 p.m.

Parting shots

ESPN and ESPN HD will have the Heisman Trophy presentation tonight at 8. . . .

John Kruk was named to replace Terry Francona as an analyst on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball.” . . .

MSG and MSG Plus have the New York Knicks at the Chicago Bulls tonight at 8.

 
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