Bob Costas' gun control speech: 'Sunday Night Football' halftime segment sparks criticism

Posted By KATE STANTON,  |  Dec. 3, 2012 at 10:13 AM
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With the football world still reeling from the news that Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher had shot himself in the head, shortly after allegedly murdering his girlfriend and the mother of his child, NBC's Bob Costas used his "Sunday Night Football" halftime segment to take on an a divisive issue rarely broached by politicians, much less sportscasters.

In his 90-second long remarks, Costas slammed American "gun culture," and the gun control laws that he believes make it easier for people to commit violent acts.

In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports cliches 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. ... If [Jovan Belcher] didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."

Whitlock, whom Costas quoted extensively in his segment, called football "embarrassingly tone deaf" in his piece on the Belcher murder-suicide. He criticized the Kansas City Chiefs for not cancelling their Sunday night game, saying: "Football is our God. Its exaggerated value in our society has never been more evident than Saturday morning in my adopted hometown. There’s just no way this game should be played."

Costas' commentary prompted instant reaction from social media users, many of whom felt that a sports broadcast was not the time or the place to get political. Using the #BobCostasLogic hashtag, critics slammed the sportscaster for his central argument -- if Belcher didn't have access to a gun, he wouldn't have shot Perkins.

Watch the controversial segment below:

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