NEW YORK – Time to cut a conversation with Bob Costas short. The new boss — CNN chief Jeff Zucker — is calling on the other line.
Costas, who ended his 40-year hitch at NBC Sports more than a year ago, this week signed on as a CNN contributor to offer commentary on the intersection of news and sports.
The two men have a long history. Zucker's first job out of Harvard University was as a researcher for NBC at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, where one duty was fetching coffee for Costas (no sugar, just a drop of milk).
“My relationship with Jeff makes me comfortable with the whole arrangement,” Costas said. “So far, so good.”
Costas made some appearances on CNN before he was formally signed as a contributor, talking about the return of baseball from the coronavirus lockdown with Michael Smerconish and the involvement of sports figures in social protest with Don Lemon.
As those examples illustrate, his role is to opine when sports news moves onto the front pages. With sports attempting to return, Washington's football team ditching the “Redskins” name and baseball players kneeling to support Black Lives Matter at the start of their season, there's plenty of fodder.
All of the sports are coming back — fingers crossed — to a certain degree. But Costas has the hardest time justifying college football, a sport with constant contact, resuming when student attendance in general will be restricted at many schools.
“It's a great deal to ask of these supposed student-athletes, and it's all obviously in pursuit of television money,” he said. “That's the one I'm most dubious about.”