Growing up, I wanted to be Bob Costas.
As a sports fan in the 1980s with big dreams of being a sportscaster, Costas was my guy. My professional model. He was the guy I wanted to be when I grew up. He was young, he was funny, he called play by play and talked about sports for a living. He encompassed every dream I had. My sister interned with NBC Sports in New York in the summer of 1992, the year Costas first hosted the Summer Olympic coverage. She sent me home press packets about Costas, and they were my holy texts.
I devoured articles about him. I knew he grew up in Commack, Long Island and was a huge Yankees fan growing up. I knew he went to Syracuse (which is one of the main reasons I wanted to go there). I read the stories about him being the play-by-play guy for the ABA’s Spirits of St. Louis for KMOX radio, and how on his audition tape, he boosted the bass so that he’d sound older.
In your life, your childhood dreams are inextricably forever linked to certain people. For me, it will always be Bob Costas.
My Bob Costas story is … well, it’s lame.
In fact, I’ve never met Bob Costas. In fact, I probably missed my only chance to do so.
It was the fall of 2009, my first year as a master’s student at Syracuse. It was maybe the second week of school, and Costas was scheduled to speak on a Friday afternoon. He was doing a Q-and-A with David Rubin, the former dean (and one of my future grad school advisors) in the auditorium what was then still the brand-new Newhouse 3 building.
The talk was the same time as my office hours as a media law instructional associate.
I asked my advisor if Costas came back to Syracuse regularly. He’s revered at Newhouse - there’s a corner of Newhouse 3 named in his honor. She told me that his visits weren’t common but they weren’t rare.
So I decided to go to my office hours. I felt noble about it. Duty called. I was more focused on my students than my own desires. I felt so proud of myself.
You know where this is going. Every professor knows where this is going.
Nobody came to my office hours. Of course nobody came. Nobody ever came to my office hours. Nobody ever comes to office hours the first month of the semester.
I was at Syracuse until 2014. Costas never came back.
In my mind, Costas will always be linked to New York City.
To NBC Sports and 30 Rock and all the big city promise and potential that city held to a young me. It was my dream growing up to live in New York City and work in sports broadcasting. I was going to be the next Bob Costas.
Life’s a funny thing. You can’t afford Syracuse, so you go to St. Bonaventure, where you learn you don’t really like broadcasting but hey, writing for the newspaper’s pretty fun. That turns into a career, which takes you halfway across the state, where you meet a girl, get married, go back to school, get a couple degrees and find a home in an upstate village with a daughter, two dogs, a cat, and a pasture across the street.
Last weekend, we took out daughter to New York City. She spent two nights in the city and got to hang out with a hotel full of fellow theater nerds at Broadway Con. She’s got her own big city dreams. She’s sure she’ll be on Broadway some day, and the kid is so fearless and so passionate she doesn’t even know how big a dream that really is.
At the end of the convention, Kristen Chenoweth — my daughter’s favorite actress - made a surprise appearance. Unlike her old man with Costas, my daughter was in the room at the right time and lost her little mind. Your childhood dreams are inextricably forever linked to certain people. For daughter, it’s Kristen Chenoweth.
It felt appropriate that the same week Costas announced he was leaving NBC Sports after 40 years, my daughter got to see her first real Broadway show and spend the weekend in the city she plans on calling home..
My big city dreams are now hers.