A new Olympic event will debut next month at Sochi, and it already has one high-profile detractor.
In an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show earlier this week, veteran sportscaster and host of NBC’s Olympic coverage Bob Costas denounced slopestyle — a discipline of snowboarding added to the Olympics for 2014 — as little more than a byproduct of the MTV show Jackass.
“I think the president of the IOC should be Johnny Knoxville,” Costas said, laughing. “Basically this stuff is just Jackass stuff they invented and called Olympic sports.”
After prompting from Lauer, Costas added that he “mean[s] that in the kindest way possible.”
After Costas’ comments went public, many proponents of snowboarding sounded off in defense of the sport.
“We just got in the Olympics, and already we have guys who know nothing about the history of our sport telling us we’re just a bunch of jackasses? That’s pretty demeaning,” U.S. Olympic slopestyle hopeful Sage Kotsenburg told ESPN.com.
“Comments like that show his underlying feelings toward the event, and it just puts out a bad message,” American slopestyle skier Tom Wallisch added. “If people like Costas continue to talk about the sport like that, it’s going to make slopestyle look like a junk show, which it isn’t. It’s a sport that has more followers and fans than a lot of other Olympic sports. And this is our time to show that to the world.”
Though slopestyle will make its debut in Sochi, snowboarding has been a part of the Olympics since 1998. Athletes have competed in halfpipe and slalom events in each of the last four Olympiads, and snowboard cross was added to the competition in 2006.