costas fun 1Sorry wrong picture.

Ok here we go.

costas fun 2(Note – I wrote this with a certain amount of snarkiness that I hope doesn’t really come through – (period).  I wanted to write about the mission field and mission work and the fact that much of what we do has to have political and economic impact and also has to be impacted by the political and economic world in which we live.  Some of our Project 24 centers had and still have issues because of Governmental interference or regulation. I was going to talk about the Biblical injunction to “trust not in princes”.  Then when I sat down to write Bob Costas made himself a scratch at the Olympic desk tonight.  I will write on those other things soon but I had to get this off my chest.  By all accounts Costas and Putin worked themselves up to be “little princes” in their worlds.  How they fair in the future is still to be seen.)

I heard about the remarks made by Bob Costas at the opening of the Olympics.  Some remarked that he seemed to be a shill for Vladimir Putin and an apologist for an apparatchik of the old Axis of Evil.  But Costas remarks that seemed to give him a black eye, soon disappeared over his appearance and the really red eye.  He apologized for wearing glasses, and I can’t understand why the glasses wearers among us did not rise up in righteous indignation.  I would have loved to seem to new protests for a change.  We don’t have enough righteous indignation in this country.  There have been some in the political arena that are deeply upset by Costas remarks about the old Soviet Union and the Russian President but not enough to get too upset and ask for say his resignation, or at least force him to read a history book.

I knew Bob Costas before he was, well, Bob Costas.  He was a rising star at KMOX Radio in St. Louis when I was attending the Seminary there.  KMOX at that time had a stable full of future hall of fame broadcasters the star of which at that time was Jack Buck, who used to regale his listeners with the antics of his son, Joe. My wife was a parochial school teacher at a Missouri Synod Lutheran School in North St. Louis that invited, as speakers to its sports banquet, Bob Costas, Dan Dierdorf, and Bud Wilkerson.  Dierdorf was at the time a stand out lineman for the St. Louis Cardinal football team (since moved to Arizona), and would later become a broadcaster with Al Michaels and Frank Gifford for Monday Night Football.  Bud Wilkenson at that time was an ABC sportscaster and had been a very successful coach for years at Oklahoma.  He would become, to his regret, the head coach of the St. Louis Football Cardinals in 1978.

Costas told some of us that the way he “learned his craft” was by going to “Spirits” games (a now defunct basketball team that used to be in St, Louis who later hired him as announcer) or to “Blues” hockey games and sit far up in the nose bleed seats with a tape recorder and do play by play and take it home and criticize himself.  Many forget that he was a very good play by play man long before he ever became a “commentator”.  I wish he had taken his Olympic script home and criticized it but I guess bad commentary is in the pink eye of the beholder.

He was a small man with huge glasses and standing next to Dierdorf and Wilkinson he looked like a little owl.  Already given to commentary, he commented about the lack of air conditioning in the gym which the Pastor of church did not appreciate and told him so as he towered over him by about two feet.  “We’ll get air conditioning in here”, he said, “after we get air conditioning in there”.  This last spoken while pointing to the church proper.  The Pastor then took a basket off the table and said “would you like to be the first to contribute?”

I’m not sure if he ever did.  The point of this trip down memory lane is really simple.  Costas by any standard is at the “top of his game”.  He worked slavishly for many years to get where he is.  He changed his appearance because he realized that in television appearance is important.  But how frustrating to be at a pivotal point in history at the Olympics when the remnants of the old evil empire are trying to show the world how far they have come and to write an essay that may have been absolute nonsense from a historical perspective, completely lost in translation because you have to put your old glasses back on and suffer through pink eye.

Putin is a man at the top of his game and these games were and may yet be his crowning achievement, and yet all the words said and written can’t change the yellow water and hotel rooms without doors.

Both of these men are my age.  We lived through the evil empire and the days of “duck and cover” where we crawled under our school desks to protect ourselves from a Soviet rocket attack.  I’m not sure if little Vladimir ducked under his desk worried about American attacks but he grew up knowing about the starvation of the Ukraine and may have thought about that as he tries to crack down on the protests there today.  He grew up knowing about Soviet heavy handed realpolitik and he duplicated it in the suppression of Chechin extremists.  Trained by the KGB and active behind the Iron Curtain in Dresden Germany he learned the long term give and take of the “diplomacy as peaceful warfare” concept and he uses those lessons to take the President of the United States to school over Syria, Iran and a lot of other hot spots in the world.

With all of those accomplishments and the obvious great strides made to get these Olympics ready for the world most of the conversation is about how mean the Russians are to homosexuals and the yellow water, bad hotels, packs of wild dogs and overall third world vibes.  The non opening of the Olympic circle was rumored to have caused the assassination of the engineer involved, but it was a rumor.  It was not true as VP Biden is wont to say “Period”.  Seriously it wasn’t true.  In fact following the lead of the United States acts of gross incompetence are rewarded.  The engineer was allowed to retire and is still receiving a government pension.  Seriously he wasn’t killed.  Heads of states and Presidents just can’t snap their fingers and have people killed.  They can’t.  Period.  Not by assassins, or yellow water or drones or anything.  REALLY.  But I digress.

Costas writes a paeon to Putin and the great Soviet experiment that should be torn apart and trashed by any real historian.  He would have been better off climbing down out of the nose bleed sections of various stadia and actually watching the news or reading a paper back in the bad old days.  It is left to others to kind of try and bring up the homosexual discrimination story which of course in the US is more important than 10 million dead Ukrainians during the noble Soviet experiment.  Maybe the pink eye is not so much an infection as a psychological reaction to being a shill.  I hope he goes to a Russian clinic so he can come home and comment on the glories of “putincare”.  But even the being mean to the homosexual community is quietly being not reported.

As for Vladimir he has the US stymied in the Middle East.  The possibility of all the littorals from the Black sea and Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf being Russian swimming holes is very real and should make all of us think about ducking and covering.  The press here will be interested in the Olympics for a while but when they are over our press here will need to talk up what we can learn from the Russians in our own little “experiment”.  After all we are about where the Russians were in, oh say 1918.  That should be enough to give all of us pink eye.