Bob Costas will host the network’s primetime and late night coverage of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games in February. No big surprise there — Costas has served as primetime host for every Olympics on NBC since 1992. But it’s only the second time he’s hosted both in primetime and late night (he did same during the 2000 Sydney Olympics). With the 2014 assignment, he becomes U.S. television’s first 10-time Olympic primetime host. The previous record-holder, Jim McKay, hosted eight times for ABC. (Costas served as NBC’s late night host at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.)
In today’s announcement, Costas, who has the longest tenure of the network’s sports announcers (34 years), called the Olympics “a three-week miniseries which, if done well, should bring viewers not only compelling athletic performances, but a sense of the host city and country, and an appreciation of what is a truly global gathering.”
That “sense of the host city and country” part could give NBC a few headaches during the Games, what with Russia now months into its ban on “gay propaganda” and Costas being an outspoken kind of guy. Costas made news recently when his commentary about the Washington team name “Redskins”, delivered during the halftime broadcast of an NFL Sunday football game in which the team was playing, became part of widespread debate that extended all the way to the White House. Costas called the name “an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present day intent.” President Obama agreed, in so many words, telling the Associated Press, in answer to a question, “If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team — even if it had a storied history — that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it,” which triggered talk on the Sunday Beltway shows, on Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh’s radio programs, and elsewhere.