Bob Costas on The Awful Announcing Podcast with host Brandon Contes. Bob Costas on The Awful Announcing Podcast with host Brandon Contes.

Before Bob Costas’ sports media career ends, the legendary broadcaster wants to see sports journalism reinstated with full-fledged attention.

On the Awful Announcing Podcast with host Brandon Contes, Costas lamented the decline of shows like HBO’s Real Sports and Game Theory, highlighting their journalistic approach to sports.

“You know, HBO Sports, which was the gold standard, is now shuttered,” Costas told Contes. “Real Sports is gone, Bomani Jones’ show (Game Theory) is gone. I returned for two very good seasons [of Back on the Record], and the show was what we wanted it to be. But the new realities of television — it’s gone. Inside the NFL, long since left HBO, and that was a football show I was happy to be part of because it took a different approach, and it was often a journalistic approach. Outside The Lines and E:60 still exist at ESPN. But if you hear talk — whether it happens or not — of the NFL possibly buying ESPN, that tells you where this stuff is headed.

“I’ve always felt that there is no contradiction of loving sports and doing a good job as a broadcaster or writer of highlighting the drama, the excitement, the shared experience, human emotion, the characters of the people involved — highlighting all those things — I think I did a good job doing that over time. But at the same time saying there’s some issues here that deserve journalistic treatment and deserve commentary in the right proportion at the right time.

“At the Olympics, I always asked — and I wasn’t successful — especially when NBC had additional platforms when they went beyond the big NBC and put Olympic events on MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, various platforms; I suggested that at the end of of each night, even if it was midnight or 1:00 in the morning, that we do a roundtable that I would host.

“And we bring in sometimes athletes, but sometimes some of our own correspondents or writers, ‘Hey, what happened at the Olympics today? What should we talk about in a different way than just covering the competition itself? What happened today? And what issues did it touch upon?’ That could be funny stuff. You want the show to have texture to it, but that would be a journalistic look.”

Costas said that he recognizes the challenge of in-depth journalism during prime-time TV. The high cost of rights and production makes lengthy pieces impractical, even for worthy stories. There isn’t room for a 15-minute journalistic segment at 8:30 p.m. prime time.

“You can’t do it,” he said. “But there are places for it, and I wish we had embraced those places more. And now, saying that, it shouldn’t be taken out of context, like, ‘Oh, I’m generally critical.’ No, I’m generally very appreciative of the quality of the production that NBC put on and the people I worked with who elevated me and the other broadcasters; they’re brilliant. The cinematography — the storytelling, that stuff is great. But I thought there was a missing element of journalism and commentary. An element to the extent it existed, I was always almost the one who brought it there. But I would have liked it to be a bit more.”

As his illustrious career nears its end, it remains to be seen if sports journalism will reclaim its rightful place, offering a deeper understanding of the games and athletes we love.

The full episode of The Awful Announcing Podcast with Bob Costas will be released Thursday morning. Subscribe to the show on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and wherever you get your podcasts. For more content, subscribe to AA’s YouTube page.

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.