ESPN has raised some eyebrows for the sports network’s unequivocal support of Chris Broussard, one of its NBA reporters, who in response to a request for his reaction to Jason Collins’ announcing that he was gay, becoming the first active NBA player ever to do so, said this on the ESPN show, “Outside the Lines”:
“I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is,” he said (transcript via Blazers Edge’s Ben Golliver). “L.Z. [Granderson, a gay sportswriter and ESPN contributor] knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We’ve gone out, had lunch together, we’ve had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand, and I know where he stands. I don’t criticize him, he doesn’t criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant. In talking to some people around the league, there’s a lot of Christians in the NBA, and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don’t want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That’s what L.Z. was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle, but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names….
“Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”
ESPN diplomatically responded, In a statement, ESPN said: “We regret that a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news. ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement.”
I find it difficult to believe that ESPN would regard similar sentiments about the sinfulness of women failing to be subordinate to their husbands or inter-racial marriage as “a respectful discussion of personal viewpoints.” There is nothing respectful about calling someone’s legal and Constitutionally protected conduct an “open rebellion to God.” I have changed my position on Broussard’s kind of statement about homosexuality. In the past, I cautioned not to regard as bigotry what was in fact strict and good faith adherence to a Bible-based moral code. I think it is time to treat such statements as we would statements about racial and gender inferiority: it’s bigotry. Society does not tolerate denigrating citizens based on sexual orientation, and to do so publicly, based on religious views or not, should be condemned as wrong and harmful.
ESPN should reprimand Broussard. He has a right to his opinion, but his opinion was inappropriate for ESPN or a broadcast discussion of the Collins announcement in a sports context. He’s not a religious commentator, and his commentary on Collins had nothing to do with sports, basketball, or gays in the NBA. Who cares about Broussard’s personal opinion of homosexuality? What’s his point? That gays shouldn’t be able to make a living? That they shouldn’t be professional athletes? That telling the truth about himself is something Collins is wrong to do? Broussard is employed to analyze basketball, not spew his Bible interpretations and render pronouncements on who is a good Christian. ESPN wouldn’t tolerate him going off on a rant against the policies of Barack Obama: why is an equally off-topic discourse on his religious beliefs any more acceptable? Broussard used his position as a basketball analyst to tell the world that he thinks Jason Collins is a sinful individual and a bad Christian. That’s neither his job, nor the area of expertise that justifies his appearance on ESPN as an analyst.
Broussard has a right to his personal, non-sports opinions, ignorant, cruel and bigoted though they may be. He has no right to inflict those opinions on ESPN’s viewers. ESPN should tell him to shut up, or get out.
Source: Washington Post