Bob Costas' Sin: By Talking About Gun Violence, He Let Reality Intrude into Football's Fantasyland

Categories: Schutze

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So what was it -- really -- that got everybody so fired up about Bob Costas' timid little attempt at a gun control message on Sunday Night Football last Sunday? Was it less about gun violence than the intrusion of real life into the violent dreamscape of professional football?

In the first place, Costas pinned his commentary on another writer, Foxsports.com columnist Jason Whitlock, whom he said he was just quoting. Whitlock had written about the bizarre/crazy practice-field murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs starting linebacker Jovan Belcher, who killed the unmarried mother of his child, a Dallas woman. Whitlock said, "What I believe is, if he didn't possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."

Does anybody argue with that? Is somebody really going to tell me that Belcher could just as easily have killed the mother of his child in front of his coach and general manager with a 2-by-4? Yeah, maybe. But it seems awfully damned unlikely.

costas.jpg
Bob Costas
And anyway, I don't believe that's what all the gun-nut outrage is about. Dallas Morning News columnist Mark Davis today added his voice to the wailing chorus, saying of Costas, "...maybe he will devote future halftime shows to analyzing game statistics. Otherwise, unless he wants to further alienate at least half of his fan base with political diatribes he should choose his muses more carefully."

Mark, I do get the thing about television football show ratings and how Costas could hurt the broadcast and so on. But, you know, shouldn't we talk just a little bit about the dead mother and father of a 3-month-old child? Is it the best approach on this story to express your deep and abiding consternation over the show's ratings?

And, hey, Davis' remarks are sage understatement next to a lot of what's getting said out there in the gun-o-sphere. National Rifle Association Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President for Life Wayne LaPierre quickly posted an in-house video on the NRA website in which he ripped Costas for "whining" about the murder-suicide when he should have been talking about fuball.

LaPierre said TV viewers Sunday had "... tuned in to watch a sporting event," but instead of that, "...what they get is a national sportscaster whining about his social agenda.

"The American public, it's shameful, they're disgusted by it."

I don't know, Wayne. I was still back on the murder-suicide itself. I watched the game and saw Costas' speech, which I thought was interesting in the kind of weak waffly way you'd expect from a sports guy speaking from behind a mask of Dorian Gray face work. I think a lot of us were thinking more about the baby than about the horror of real life intruding on the sacred Walter Mitty fantasyland of professional sports.

It took Costas himself about two seconds to start dialing back on it. Her told MSNBC, "What I was talking about here, and I'm sorry if that wasn't clear to everyone, was a gun culture. I never mentioned the Second Amendment, I never used the words 'gun control.' People inferred that."

Yes. We did infer that. Bob, you read this quote from Whitlock's piece: "Our current gun culture simply 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."

I would infer, you would infer, your mom's dog would infer that you were saying we need to control guns more. We do have to live with the implications of our own words, Bob, or, as in this case, our own words but borrowed from somebody else. The borrowing doesn't get you out of the implications.

I myself am not actually here to argue gun control. Had the loud blunderbuss out just two nights ago (true story). My wife, son and son's girlfriend came home from dinner to find a trashed out '91 Cadillac beater dead in the middle of the street with a flat tire in front of our driveway and a motionless body on the floorboards in the back seat.

It was an East Dallas deal. EMS came first, then cops. They hauled some poor drunk schlub out of the car and trundled him off with his hands behind his back in plastic cable ties, then scraped up the car, and it was over. My son had brought the gun and a baseball bat downstairs (gun at my request, bat his own more sporting idea) in case we were going to have to hold the fort for a while before the authorities arrived.

I was checking the safety on the gun when he said, "Maybe it's not a good idea to wave the gun around in the front window while the police are arriving."

Excellent thought.

I'm no gun-hater. I'm kind of with Obama on it. I have some respect for the Second Amendment. And anyway, I don't believe for a second that this Costas' flap is even about guns. It's about the suspension of disbelief that is professional sports fandom and the howls of pain that erupt when any small rent appears in the delicate curtain shrouding this vicarious fantasy of manhood and aggression.

I remember sharing an office with a sports writer who slammed his phone down one day and uttered a loud stream of profanity. A city desk editor, intruding on the foreign territory of sports in the first place by even calling him, wanted him to write the REAL story of Dallas Cowboys football player Michael Irvin and his drug charges.

"City desk people are so stupid," he said. "They don't understand that people who read the sports pages don't want to know the REAL story about anything. They read the sports pages to get away from real stories. That's what the sports pages are for."

That was Costas' real sin. He ripped the curtain and allowed real life to show its ugly unlifted face in the middle of the Punch and Judy show. That just wrecks it.


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81 comments
WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

Costas real sin was he allowed his fantasy intrude.  Jovons Belcher had numerous bitter arguments over relationships and finances with his girlfriend according to his mother.  According to Costas it was not mental illness or evil or a combination of the two that made Jovon  kill his girl friend but rather the gun.  In the Costas fantasy it was the gun that made Jovan shoot his baby's mother in the back numerous times not a homicidal rage 

don.abbott
don.abbott

Costas needs a good talking to.  No one, and I DO mean no one, with an NBC/MSNBC press pass should EVER talk about anything without White House clearance.  As a journalist, Schutze should know this.

PrestonHoller
PrestonHoller

Schutze and others wonder why there was such a blow back on Costa’s editorial. Is it that hard to understand? Somewhere around 99.99999999999% of the people who tune into the NFL’s Sunday night game does so for entertainment purposes. They’ve been at work all week and (hopefully) enjoyed their weekend. After a couple beers they are watching the Sunday night game to have a last few hours of entertainment before they have to trudge through another 9-5, Monday-Friday of grind at work. In short, they are looking for a last few hours of escapism from the grind before they have to face another week of the grind. They want to forget life’s hassles for a little while so they can cheer for (or dog cuss) the Cowboys. And what do they get? Instead of a sportscaster talking about sports, we’ve got some idiot who probably knows little to nothing about the complicated issue of gun control lecturing us on a political issue. If any of us really wanted that cr@p, we would have tuned into Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC instead of the NFL on NBC. The reaction to Costa’s gun control editorial would have been the same as if he got on at halftime and gave us his opinion of upcoming fiscal cliff. It’s a political issues that no one wants to hear about during an NFL game. Period. If Costas wants to talk politics, go over to MSNBC.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

Here's what it really comes down to.  Belcher didn't NEED a gun to kill her.  He could have beaten her to death with his bare hands, and there is not a damned thing a woman can do to defend herself from a professional football player in a world with no guns.

Belcher didn't need to the gun -- SHE DID.  The only way she could have survived, once he decided to murder her, was if SHE was the one with the gun.  That's why we morally cannot allow gun control.  Gun control means a return to the medieval period of 'might makes right' and the biggest strongest man terrorizing everyone around him.  (And that's not me whining -- I'm a fairly big guy, and aware of the danger I pose to others.)

todd
todd

What's the big deal?  Not only about what Costas said but also the reactions to what he said and the reactions to those reactions.  None of it has been that controversial.   

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

"Is somebody really going to tell me that Belcher could just as easily have killed the mother of his child in front of his coach and general manager with a 2-by-4?"

OJ did a pretty good job with a kitchen knife.

grapevinesooner
grapevinesooner

I wonder if Jim recalls how Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were murdered.

Hint: It wasn't with a gun

DOCensors
DOCensors

Liberals wage a war on women by supporting gun control. If Jim Schutze has a daughter I hope he tells her he doesn't care if she gets raped because he'd rather she were defenseless. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Gun technology evolves making it easier and easier for people who know nothing about them to use them to kill. Theoretically we could wind up one day with a button in our pockets that would make somebody die. So should we?

Double-O-Joe
Double-O-Joe

Guns are tools.  They are utilitarian objects that are built to fulfill a purpose, just like any other item in your garage, toolbox, or kitchen.

The difference is that the purpose they are built for is death.

A kitchen knife, a 2x4, or a screwdriver are all lethal weapons under the right circumstances.  Every one of those and countless other items is capable of taking life.  However, their primary purposes are vastly different.  Handguns, rifles, and shotguns do not do anything other than kill or injure, whether the target is animal or human.

Does that mean they should be banned?  Of course not, and very few people I know would make that argument.  Does that mean we should be aware how our culture idolizes guns, and how we have let our inherent right to own them override the common sense that comes with owning a weapon capable of taking someone else's life?  Yes.

observist
observist topcommenter

That picture of Bob Costas is so creepy he almost looks like an evangelical anti-abortion crusader.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@everlastingphelps 

That argument cuts both ways. Most people, even 2nd amendment proponents, don't want to walk around packing heat and depend (rightly or wrongly) on our police doing their job to prevent us from becoming a free-for-all "might equals right" society. That's who, as a society, we have delegated the task of using force and firepower to maintain the peace between citizens.

It's just speculation on my part, but my guess is that Belcher's girlfriend wouldn't have had a chance to access a firearm in any event. It's just not the first thing most lovers contemplate when in an altercation with their S.O. And even if she did, would she have been able to pull the trigger on Belcher? Most people not in the grip of mental illness would have a hard time taking the life of another, especially a lover, family member or close acquaintance, even in self defense.

feldnick
feldnick

@everlastingphelps 

Sadly, we still don't know if OJ killed anyone. We weren't in the courtroom, day-in and day-out. We weren't eye-witnesses, privy to all the evidence ( suppressed or otherwise). We like to say "innocent until proven guilty", but we only really want to practice that if we are the ones being charged with a crime.

observist
observist topcommenter

@grapevinesooner  By the same logic:  people travel by means other than airplanes, therefore eliminating airplanes would not reduce miles traveled.  People do mathmatical calculations without computers, therefore banning computers would not reduce the amount of mathematical calculations performed.  People changed TV channels before remote controls, therefore eliminating remote controls would not reduce channel changing.... etc. etc.

DOCensors
DOCensors

@grapevinesooner It doesn't matter how many examples you provide-- liberals do not follow logic. They seek only control.

gweneams
gweneams

@DOCensors It's troubling that you lump libs into the gun-hating group.  I'd be happy to shoot your ass if it would convince you to not do that.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

"a war on women by supporting gun control".

congrats, that has reached even deeper into the realm of idiocy than you have managed to reach before, and that's quite an accomplishment.

I have daughters, and they have learned self defense. believe me, if someone attempts to rape them, the person will very much regret that decision.

and that will be done without a gun, for a gun is not a requirement for self defense.

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

@DOCensors - both my daughters have CHL's. If that annoys libs and/or perps, I'm sorry. Really; I feel terrible about it.

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

@JimSX - Jim, could you tell us the relative statistics concerning general adherance to law between licensed carriers and the average citizen so we can make sense of your point?

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@JimSX Stabbing is even simpler than shooting.  Ban knifes.

But then again, before we had refined metal people made murderous weapons out of flint and obsidian.  I think the answer is clear -- ban rocks.  And since the Earth is made of rocks, ban it too.

DOCensors
DOCensors

@JimSX Gun technology evolves? Small arms have barely evolved since gunpowder was invented. 

And what's your point anyway? My mistake. I forget you never have one. 

Chuck_Schick
Chuck_Schick

@Double-O-Joe I think Costas is speaking more about guns and culture than he is about blocking access to them.

observist
observist topcommenter

@Double-O-Joe  Atom bombs are just utilitarian objects as well.  I assume you support Iran's right to have them?

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

@observist - He looks like the Andrson Cooper of Sportscasting

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk @everlastingphelps I do not for a second deny that there are a lot of variables.  She had a lot of choices.  It is very likely that she would not have chosen to defend herself with lethal force.

However, it would be immoral to take that CHOICE away from her.  Whether she chooses to exercise her rights or not, she should have them.  (Don't we hear this same argument coming from people who are for gun control when the discussion rolls around to abortion?)

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@feldnick A jury in the wrongful death suit heard all the evidence and determined that the preponderance of the evidence was that OJ murdered Goldman and Brown.  That's legalese for "OJ did it."

DOCensors
DOCensors

@mavdog Yeah? So you taught them to scream NO real loud and some hollywood style moves to defend themselves? "Step on his foot, kick him between the legs and claw his eyes!" while the attacker miraculously falls on the ground?

Oh good. Now what do they do when there is a gun on the side of their head? Whoops. Or how about when they try to do all those things and just end up getting their face bashed in and their arms broken because despite the matriarchy's propaganda to the contrary: Women are not just as strong as men. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@mavdog Hand to hand combat against a larger, stronger opponent is a fool's bet.  The only way it happens is when the smaller person is highly trained and well conditioned to full contact fights, and the larger attacker is inexperienced.  A hardened criminal will overpower them 9 times out of 10.

Don't be stupid.  Give them the tools to protect themselves.  The middle of an assault is not the time for political bullshit.

Double-O-Joe
Double-O-Joe

@DOCensors @JimSX  

Now you're being deliberately obtuse.

 At the risk of feeding a known troll:  there is a big difference between a match-lit cast iron arquebus from the 1500s and a modern handgun or rifle.  Rifled barrels. Cartidge ammunition.  Clip-fed magazines.  Double-action semi-automatic rates of fire.  Modern civilian firearms put the military weapons of only 150 years ago to shame, both in accuracy and fire rate.  Refusing to acknowledge that means you're just arguing for the sake of arguing, and that you have little to contribute to an actual discussion.

TL;DR: Go back to /b/.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

It seems the fact that there are those who are strident for outlawing ANY abortion, even in the case of rape (or is that "legitimate rape"?), when there currently is "abortion control", pretty much destroys your attempt at a cute comment.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@mavdog Abortion control is not the same as abortion abolition.

To equate the two is a straw man argument.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

gun control is not the same as gun abolition.

to equate the two is a straw man argument.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@DOCensors @TheCredibleHulk @everlastingphelps 

Explain to me how you can KNOW that Belcher's girlfriend would have used deadly force with a firearm, had she had one, and I'll grant you your "bullshit".

Short of that, your statement is as much speculation as mine is.

DOCensors
DOCensors

@mavdog @DOCensors Where did I say women need men to protect themselves? No where. They need to be protected from men like you who would take away their rights however. The best way they can do that is by purchasing a firearm and learning how to properly use it against rapists and liberal fascists alike.

fistofsouth
fistofsouth

@mavdog @DOCensors Hey Mavdog; I had to meet higher physical standards than women the entire time I was in the Army.  Could you be so kind as to convey your oh so factual arguments about female equality to the DOD?  Thanks, signed myself and every other male soldier.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@DOCensors

gee, that's not very surprising to read you say "women are not just as strong as men".

after all, this comes from a person who sees african americans as a lot of violent perps who lay around all day, taking handouts and then prey on others by their criminal acts. and of course there's the latinos who you see as not contributing to society but turning america into a third world cesspool.

so now it is women you stereotype, helpless and weak, who can't defend themselves from the men, and must rely on the "strong" men to protect them. misogyny at its best!

the trifecta as it were.

congrats, it seems there isn't anyone else for your hate and collateral stupidity to be a target.

wait, there's the asians..but I'm certain given the opportunity you will show bigotry and ignorance on them, too.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@mavdog I am educated, and I know how wrong it goes, and how very skilled guys get beaten down just from one slip up.

I pray that your daughters never have to pay the price for the propaganda they've been fed.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

"hand to hand combat against a larger, stronger opponent is a fool's bet"

wow. you should tell that to all those people who have learned the skills of self defense and have successfully applied those attributes on an attacker. happens every day.

really, educate yourself. and, to quote you, "don't be stupid".

albert.finney000
albert.finney000

@Scruffygeist @albert.finney000 - another great reason to fuck!

DOCensors
DOCensors

@Double-O-Joe @DOCensors @JimSX Your analogy of riding a horse and driving a car is not similar to small arms.

Has the automobile evolved? No. They might be faster, more powerful and have more fancy features but the principles are exactly the same. If we dug up Karl Benz he'd recognize and be able to drive a modern car with no problem(Unlike many readers of this blog and some of the writers too).

Weapons evolve just as transportation does-- walking begot riding a horse and then trains and automobiles.. planes.. space shuttles

Rocks.. spears.. guns.. missiles.. LASER BEAMS who knows. 

Double-O-Joe
Double-O-Joe

@DOCensors @JimSX  

Really?  Your handgun is made of cast iron and fires soft lead shot that was cast by hand in a mold?

You're picking nits and trying to split hairs by definition.  Evolution is a process of gradual change driven by environmental pressure, and that is exactly what has happened to firearms.  

The principle behind modern and ancient firearms is the same, I agree, just like the purpose between riding a horse and driving a car is the same.  You get the same result (arriving at your destination; killing something) but the process is a lot faster and more efficient.

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