Even so, it may be that Costas crossed a line by bringing politics into his football coverage.
But it wasn’t the first time a hot-button issue had been pressed in a sports broadcast. In 2003, conservative radio superstar Rush Limbaugh resigned from a brief stint on the panel of ESPN’s ‘‘Sunday NFL Countdown.’’ His departure followed his race-tinged comments about Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
‘‘Sports people say they don’t want any politics involved,’’ Limbaugh said in a Tuesday commentary addressing the Costas affair (where he cracked ‘‘I don’t blame Bob Costas. I blame the microphone").
Limbaugh said there had been no provision in his deal with ESPN not to bring up politics. ‘‘But I never asked to be able to, either. It wasn’t even on my mind.’’
Keeping sports and politics in separate spheres may be less and less possible in a world that breeds opinions and crossbreeds its performers.
In his Salon column, David Sirota noted that boundaries are disappearing between sports, culture, entertainment and politics: ‘‘Modern America is a place where an actor can become president, a pro wrestler can become a governor, a football player can become a congressman, and a comedian can become a U.S. senator.’’ And (as he could've added) where a real estate mogul can become a TV host, political pundit and prospective presidential candidate.
Meanwhile, everyone is talking, with Costas only one among the chattering multitude. And that, of course, means there’s a danger of less and less time being set aside for listening.
EDITOR'S NOTE — Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier