Speaking with Dan Patrick on his radio show Tuesday, Bob Costas said ESPN could’ve found someone more closely related to the sports world to receive the award. “Awarding the Arthur Ashe Award to Caitlyn Jenner is just a crass exploitation play,” the NBC announcer and commentator said. “It’s a tabloid play.”
Costas recognized the strength it took for Jenner to make her transition in the public eye: “That’s not to say that it doesn’t take some measure of personal courage to do what Caitlyn Jenner has done,” he added. Still, Costas believes a high school student or amateur athlete might be more deserving of the award.
“I think this is a play to pump up audience, the way lots of things are put on television to attract eyeballs—not because of the validity,” Costas said, “but because of whatever the kind of gawker factor is.”
Receiving the award in July will allow Jenner to “stand as my true self in front of my peers,” she said in a statement last week, adding, “Being honored with this award, which is named after one of my heroes, is truly special.”