Bob Costas: Mannish Boy or Boyish Old Man?

The Sporting Life:

The Public Professor’s

Saturday Sports Column

Robert Quinlan Costas. That’s his full name.  And I suppose we should be calling him Robert from now on, or maybe even Mr. Costas.  Bob just doesn’t seem fitting anymore, and not only because he’s pushing 60.  It’s because Robert “Bob” Costas has transformed of late into a cranky old man.  Long known for his baby face and boyish exuberance, Costas has recently been spending his time as host of NBC’s Sunday Night Football devolving into the kind of crotchety old fart who screams at those damn kids to stop break dancing on his lawn.  His unadulterated enthusiasm and thoughtful love for sports is slowly being replaced by self-righteous sanctimony and smarminess, last week’s broadcast being another step toward the aisle where they keep the Depends.

First came Costas’ pre-game quip to Cris Collinsworth, a sarcastic joke that Costas should get himself a Twitter account so he can  tell the whole world whenever he’s having a cup of coffee.  Now that right there is a genuine old man joke, and for two reasons.  First, it’s a joke we’ve all heard a hundred times before, and the only people who tell jokes everyone’s heard a hundred times before are old people and small children, both of whom are out of the loop and have just heard the joke for the first time.  Whether it’s a 6 year old telling a knock-knock joke or an old guy telling a Twitter joke, they both think this material is funny and fresh.  No grandpa, I haven’t heard that one before.

The other reason it’s an old man joke is that Costas thought he was being  insightful, sharing a pearl of wisdom with us along the lines of: Well, ya know, Twitter by definition is nothing more than a vehicle for shallow narcissists, a terrible contraption that immediately turns anyone who uses it into Paris Hilton.

Gosh, what an old man thing to say.  I mean, do some people use Twitter like a Spacely Sprockets Uniblab (also an old man thing to say, admittedly)?  Sure they do.  But then again, so do many of the world’s top physicists. So a 58 year old guy dismissing Twitter out of hand on those grounds in the year 2010 is like a 58 year old guy dismissing telephones out of hand back in the 1950s on the grounds that all they’re good for is the yakety-yak of teenage girls gossiping to each other, and I’m too much of an old curmudgeon to ever be associated with that, so I’m gonna avoid the phone as best I can, scowl and be terse whenever I have to use one, snarl at anyone who dares to smile while talking on the phone, and condescendingly complain about these god-awful Alexander Graham Bell machines and all the teenage girls using them for their yakety-yak gossip.  Damn kids.

But what was just too ironic about Costas’ little quip is that this is the same guy gets up on his soapbox during the halftime of each SNF game and spends a good minute or two preaching to America about whatever he thinks is important.  Because if Robert Costas thinks it’s important, it must be important, and everyone needs to hear his opinion about it.  I mean, why tweet it when you can stare into the camera talk directly to millions of Americans on one of the nation’s highest rated shows?  Talk about narcissism.  And what was this week’s sermon?  That the NFL is absolutely right to crack down on headhunting.  Sure, why not.  But not only does Costas make no mention of the hypocrisy in this (see my post entitled The NFL Eats Its Young), but get this: he thinks the primary reason the NFL should crackdown on helmet hits is not the safety of the players (which is of course important, he says), but because the NFL might get sued over this stuff one day, and it’s really gotta protect itself.

Fantastic.  So glad you shared.

Come back to us Bob.  It’s not too late.  Leave the out-of-touch, angry, old man routine to the likes of Andy Rooney and the anonymous screamers on AM talk radio.  It’s all they’ve got.  Besides, it doesn’t suit you.  So just come home where you belong.  We’ll even call you Robert if you like.

Let it Rip