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Bob Costas: ‘All Football Broadcasters Have To Understand Basics Of Concussions’

“In fact, they even have a course, which you can take online, that gives you at least a rudimentary grasp of what the issue is.”

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Bob Costas

Concussions and their lingering effects have been part of the conversation around football for years. Fans know more about the risk of head trauma in the sport than ever before. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic recently asked Bob Costas how fans should expect broadcast booths to cover those issues when they become relevant in a game.

Costas noted that there is so much NFL-related programming on TV now that is it hard to keep up with everything that is or isn’t said about the issue. He even admits that he did not see the Thursday Night Football game between the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals where quarterback Tua Tagvailoa is widely believed to have suffered a second concussion within five days. Still, he offered some general thoughts.

“All announcers who cover football, be it college or pro, ought to be aware at least in broad terms of the nature of concussions, how they present themselves, what the early signs are that a layperson can observe in real-time, even before a neurologist gets to examine somebody. Then they need to be aware of what the specifics are from the NFL as the case may be. They don’t have to editorialize about it, but they need to be able to recognize it and, to some extent, contextualize it if it becomes appropriate.”

The policies that the NFL has in place around concussions are far from perfect. Still, Bob Costas notes that the league’s standards for what is acceptable have changed. Fans know it and broadcasters have to take that fact into account.

“It wasn’t very long ago that players would argue with their coaches or the trainer or the medical staff out of taking them out of the game. That just can’t happen anymore,” he said. “So that general awareness is not really even taking a position. It’s just being aware of what the presently understood facts of the matter are. Everyone who broadcasts games should at least have a baseline understanding of that. They should familiarize themselves with what Chris Nowinski of the Concussion Legacy Foundation put out there. In fact, they even have a course, which you can take online, that gives you at least a rudimentary grasp of what the issue is.”

He added that he was never his willingness to address issues of CTE on NFL broadcasts was a problem for NBC. He tried to address the issue with some regularity, but was respectful of the limitations his position presented.

Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

Jordan Bondurant

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The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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