Bob Costas Gets It Wrong
I realize that fans of this blog come here to laugh. Bear with me while I blog about something that’s no laughing matter. Or, don’t bear with me. That’s ok, too.
A few disclaimers, before I begin.
1-I am a huge NFL football fan. I love the game. I love the players, the strategy, the awesomeness of a great defensive line, the beauty of a tightly thrown spiral, the game-winning field goal; I love it all.
But I also love what it means in my life. A way to bond with men, starting with my dad, when I was a kid. Maybe we don’t talk about things that other dads and daughters do, and that’s ok. We talk about football. We play fantasy football together. Maybe it’s fitting that this past weekend, our teams played each other. He’s currently winning, but I have RG3 tonight, so anything’s possible.
Men like to talk about football, and I like to talk to men. I like to hang out with men. I’m a “Guys’ Girl.” I like guy things. I got my husband into fantasy football, and really, football altogether, when we started dating. (He used to strictly be a Cowboys fan, poor thing.) And while we are on the topic of my husband, I want to say that he has never acted in any violent or abusive way towards me. He barely has a temper, and he is always sweet and gentle with me. Landing him has been the best thing that’s ever happened to my life. I am safe with him.
2- I have never liked Bob Costas. I don’t understand why he’s NBC Sports’ favorite son. They trot him out with every sporting event they televise, when there are so many other people who might be better qualified. He can’t be an expert in EVERY sport, can he? Plus, I find him smarmy, condescending, and just plain annoying.
3- I’m conflicted about gun control. I don’t disagree with the idea that having a gun makes people quicker to violence. But I also own a gun, and wouldn’t hesitate to use it on someone who came into my house and was a threat to my family’s safety. Do there need to be more restrictions on guns? I don’t know. But I’m from Texas, born and raised; of course I am pro-second amendment.
Now that those are out of the way, here’s what I really want to talk about. This past weekend, Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then himself. The Chiefs went ahead and played on Sunday (and won). They held a moment of silence tribute before the game, “to honor victims of domestic violence.”
During halftime of the Sunday Night Football game, Bob Costas took to the air to deliver a little sports commentary, as he does every Sunday night. He used this opportunity to lash out against guns. Quoting heavily from Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock’s column about the incident (the main points of which were that the NFL should have cancelled the game, and that guns make people more violent), he went on a rant about “perspective,” and “gun culture.” He then quoted Whitlock: “If Javon Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.”
Here’s why people like Jason Whitlock and Bob Costas just don’t get it. While it might be true that Belcher might be alive today, Kasandra Perkins wouldn’t. He was on a mission to kill her. And whether she wound up choked, stabbed, bludgeoned, or any number of other violent ends, he was going to kill her.
Why isn’t this a discussion about violence against women? Why don’t people like Costas and Whitlock cut the crap and begin to talk about the real issue? Why does this boil down to a gun issue? Why aren’t we talking about what kind of monster Jovan Belcher must have been to commit such violence, and leave his three-month-old baby an orphan?
Why do we continue to put the onus on women? We say things like, “Why didn’t she leave?” instead of things like, “Why do men commit violence against women?” Why? We hold classes and seminars to teach women things like how to avoid violence, how to avoid being raped, how to fight off an attacker. All of us women who went to college had to sit through a freshman orientation on these topics. When are we going to start the orientation that tells men that this kind of behavior is intolerable? When do we put the responsibility where it belongs, on men who are violent?
Here’s what I wish Bob Costas would have said:
That it’s not acceptable to kill your girlfriend.
That it’s not acceptable to hit your girlfriend.
That it’s not acceptable to push and shove your girlfriend, bite or scratch or kick your girlfriend, slap your girlfriend, throw her out of a car, pull her hair, throw things at her, call her names, threaten her, make her feel afraid of you, intimidate her, ANY of it. ANY OF IT.
We’ve all heard the argument that being an NFL player makes a man more violent. It’s a violent game, and it’s hard to “turn that off” after Sunday. You know what? FIND A WAY. And you know what else? Plenty of men who don’t play in the NFL abuse their wives and girlfriends. Growing up in a house with violence makes men more violent, too. It’s time that we as a society take a stand and say, out loud, that it’s not acceptable. For anyone. THAT is the issue. Not gun control, not football being a violent sport, not whether or not the game should have been played. Women, and the fact that it’s never okay to inflict violence on them, should be the topic.
A moment of silence isn’t enough. There’s too much silence, already. It’s time to start making noise.