Legendary sportscaster Bob Costas spoke to Marist students and professors virtually on Thursday evening to kick off the Sports Communication Speaker Series.
Costas currently works for the MLB Network. He is best known for his tenure with NBC where he hosted 11 Olympic Games. Those in attendance were lucky enough to hear nearly 50 years worth of advice and anecdotes in the broadcasting field.
Costas started the conversation by discussing his origins. He grew up in what he described as “a masterclass of sportscasting” in New York. With celebrated broadcasters such as Marty Glickman and Marv Albert who covered the Knicks, Giants and Jets, Costas was inspired from a young age. After learning Glickman and Albert were Syracuse alums, there was only one logical place for Costas to go if he wanted to be just like them.
He began his career while at Syracuse, working at WSYR on television and radio, which at the time were the only two places to digest sports media. From there, he made his way to KMOX in St. Louis covering the Spirits of St. Louis of the American Basketball Association for $11,000 a year.
“If I had $11,000, I would’ve paid them for the job,” said Costas with a laugh as he recalled the memory. At the time Costas was grateful just to be getting an opportunity. It’s that love and passion that has allowed him to remain relevant all of these years. It certainly was on display for the students to see.
“I’m downright sentimental and nostalgic,” he exclaimed after sounding off on his desires for the introduction of more real journalism and commentary in the world of sports media. He stressed the importance of getting to the bottom of stories in an unbiased manner.
In a separate disquisition, Costas advised all of the students to be mindful of the way they consume their media as they sort through a “tsunami of information”.
He cited media literacy as one of the most important skills an aspiring journalist can have; stating that the better one gets at recognizing credible information, the better they are at creating credible journalism. As long as people can trudge through the “thicket of B.S.”, as Costas described modern media, then they can truly access the real news.
Costas described how this would help him prior to covering games, where producers would overload him with information and he had to select what was necessary to remember, and what could be put on the backburner. Costas was adamant in explaining that in broadcasting preparation is paramount.
He recalled nights where he would cram for shows as if he was one of the college students in attendance, but ultimately shared that it’s about being a generalist who can bring bits of information to the table in a myriad of fields.
“The better rounded you are as a person, the more interesting you will be,” he stated.
Costas certainly had dozens of aspiring journalists interest’s piqued on Thursday evening. After giving the discourse on his career and media literacy, he opened the floor up to a Q&A with the students, many of whom are real fans of his work.
They asked questions about his Sunday Night Football essays that he used to deliver, iconic calls such as his famous “Bryant to Shaq!” exclamation from the 2000 NBA Playoffs, as well as many of the best moments he got to cover live at the Olympics.
“Sometimes it’s more about taking the context of the story, and being aware of the moment,” said Costas describing what it’s like to be a part of such major moments.
He left the students with an anecdote about watching and broadcasting live as Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch at the Atlanta games in 1996. He summed up the emotions and drama that come along with sports, and advised everyone on the call to allow the “theatre” as he calls it, to unfold in front of them.
Bob Costas will always be regarded as one of the greatest sports broadcasters for the way he can call a game, but also the way he can tell the story and follow the narrative is second to none. He left the call with one last piece of advice to the Marist community. He encouraged the young, aspiring broadcasters to drive the narratives as they fill in the gaps as storytellers. If they did all those things, they could be the next generation of Bob Costas.
Edited by Mackenzie Meaney