Producers of Wednesday's The ESPYs have
broken their silence on their decision to award Caitlyn Jenner this
year's Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
Jenner debuted last month on the cover
of Vanity Fair.
NBC Sports commentator Bob Costas was
among those critical of the decision to honor Jenner, calling it a
“crass exploitation play.”
“In the broad world of sports – and
this is not anything against Caitlyn Jenner – I am pretty sure they
could have found someone who was much closer to actively [being]
involved in sports who would have been deserving of what that award
represents,” he said.
Speaking to Sports Illustrated,
Maura Mandt, a longtime co-producer of The ESPYs, defended the
“I think Caitlyn's decision to
publicly come out as a transgender woman and live as Caitlyn Jenner
displayed enormous courage and self-acceptance,” Mandt said.
“Bruce Jenner could have easily gone
off into the sunset as this American hero and never dealt with this
publicly,” she added.
The show's producers also said that the
award is an opportunity to educate the public about transgender
The ESPYs will take place at the Nokia
Theatre in Los Angeles and will be broadcast on ABC.