It’s always awkward when sportscasters stray from their field of expertise and pontificate on political and social issues.
Bob Costas, building on his previous efforts in this regard, recently took this awkwardness to a whole new level.
Costas recently challenged Second Amendment supporters, saying:
“Let’s make a bet, you and me. Let’s say over the next five years – we’ll do a Google search, we’ll have an independent party monitor it – you keep track of how many good and constructive things are associated with athletes having a gun, and I’ll keep track of all the tragedies and criminality and folly. And let’s see who comes out ahead or behind as the case may be. These things are directly connected.”
If we are to take his words at face value, Costas believes that athletes are naturally predisposed to “tragedies, criminality and folly”. That athletes as a group, including former NFL star Dave Butz and former NBA star Karl Malone – both members of the NRA’s Board of Directors – aren’t smart enough or responsible enough to be trusted with their fundamental Second Amendment rights.
As one in the business of broadcasting, he should know that the vast majority of “good and constructive things” associated with athletes, or anyone who owns a firearm, don’t make the news.
When a football player and his family enjoy a day at their local shooting range, it doesn’t make the local six o’clock broadcast. When a baseball player takes his daughter deer hunting, you won’t see Brian Williams talking about it on NBC Nightly News.
Nor will you see Diane Sawyer featuring a story about a basketball player, golfer, or hockey star who used a firearm to defend themselves and their loved ones against a violent criminal attack.
Let’s be clear. The reason you don’t see those stories reported isn’t because they don’t exist. In fact, they occur thousands upon thousands of times every year – far more often than the tragedies and criminality and folly of which Costas speaks. You don’t see them reported because they don’t drive up ratings.
So, Bob, I’ll accept your bet – provided that we compare real statistics, not misleading news reports. And when you lose, you have to turn down armed security at your events for an entire year. As you say, these things are directly connected.
Chris W. Cox is the Executive Director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) and serves as the organization’s chief lobbyist.