You Were Saying? Bob Costas' Sad Mishandling of Bolt and Phelps' Characters

Sherman L. McCleskyCorrespondent IFebruary 5, 2009

So there I was, eating some Cheetos and watching the 100-meter finals in the 2008 Summer Olympics on TV.

I'm looking at the favorite, Usain Bolt, from Jamaica. He's warming up; he's getting into the blocks, and BAM!, we're off. And there he goes. Like his surname, he came out like a bolt and easily won the 100 meters with a new world record.

Bob Costas was watching the event as well, but with a whole different agenda. You see, with Michael Phelps (USA) clearly on his way to winning more gold medals in a single Olympic games than any other swimmer, Costas may have had a bias toward Phelps.

So you pretty much figured that Costas' attitude toward Bolt, once he saw the Jamacian thumping his chest while coming across the finish line, was: "Oh, this is my chance to trash him."

So here I am, stuck with watching Costas' 24-hour exclusive coverage of how Usain Bolt ruined the Olympics.

With a bigoted and determined mindset, Costas went after Bolt with extreme prejudice. He called Bolt everything but a child of God for his chest thumping; meanwhile, he'd placed Phelps on a pedestal, as if Phelps was some sort of god.

Ok, I'll bite. Usain Bolt is a thug and a menace to society for celebrating too early. I wonder what Costas thinks of athletes who celebrate later by taking illegal drugs? How about touchdown dances when a wide receiver is five yards away from the end zone with nobody behind him?

Costas, coming of his self-proclaimed "victory" over Barry Bonds during his coverage of the steroid scandal, may have prematurely thought that he knew everything and everyone in the sporting world.

In his arrogance, he thought that he possessed the "political capital" to execute character assassinations of any athlete he believes did not live up to his "high expectations of sportsmanship."

So what really made him foam at the mouth, when it came to his "evaluation" of Usain Bolt? Was it a simple case of nationalism; was he simply being bias for America?

Or perhaps it was "steroidal profiling;" did Bob Costas assume that because this athlete had won in such a dominating fashion, that he'd been on the juice?

Or was it racial? Being that Michael Phelps is a white American, did Costas feel that he had political room to attack the character of a black athlete? I don't know.

All that I know is this. Costas had stuck his neck out there in his praising of Michael Phelps; meanwhile, at the same time, he tarnished one of the most amazing running feats of all time in saying that Usain Bolt's celebration was classless.

Bob Costas' position was clear: Michael Phelps was a better citizen, a better sportsman, and a better role model for children than Usain Bolt!

Fair enough. So where are these two athletes now?

Usain Bolt—Bolt's first outing of 2009 will be a low-key meeting in Jamaica on Valentine's Day, but his first serious action of the year will be at the Kingston International meeting in his native land in early May.

Manager Ricky Simms had nothing but praises for Bolt's character and charisma. Six months on from his incredible performances in Beijing, Simms is pleased to report that Bolt's personality "hasn't changed."


Bolt has yet to test positive for any performance enhancing or recreational drugs.

Michael Phelps-COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP)—Olympic superstar Michael Phelps could face criminal charges as part of the fallout from a photo that surfaced showing the swimmer smoking from a marijuana pipe at a University of South Carolina house party.

Well, now! What does Bob Costas have to say about that?

But that's not even the fun part of this story. The fun part lies within the irony behind my article.

If seeing this article from a University of Michigan fan wasn't shocking enough, try understanding the irony that an athlete from Jamaica, the mythological marijuana capital of the world, is cleaner than our own All-American hero. To boot, our so-called foremost authority on drugs in sports, Bob Costas, didn't have a clue as to what was going on.

Am I asking Costas to apologize to Bolt? No. We all know that Costas will claim "plausible deniability" in suggesting that he was "doing his job as a reporter."

No, all I'm asking from Costas is this: With too many sporting fans turning to him for an opinion, the least the little runt can do is to make sure he can back up what he says before he opens his big mouth.

Here's some advice for Costas: The next time you want to speak ill of a person, try sitting down for a conversation with that person first, so when you give us your opinion you may not look like as much of an ass later, like you do right now.

Food for thought.