ESPN is standing by NBA reporter Chris Broussard after his controversial comments about Jason Collins, the NBA player who on Monday became the first active participant in a major men’s pro sport in the U.S. to publicly say that he is gay.
Nearly all the immediate reaction from present and past athletes was supportive, but in an appearance on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Broussard was asked for his personal opinion on Collins’s comments, and he didn’t hold back. He said he believes homosexuality is an “open rebellion” against God and discussed how that jibes with his views on tolerance.
“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.”
Collins, in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning America,” said of Broussard’s comments: “I am a Christian. I will state that very proudly…. You can’t please everyone”
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.”
On Twitter late Monday night, Broussard added:
“Today on OTL, as part of a larger, wide-ranging discussion on today’s news, I offered my personal opinion as it relates to Christianity, a point of view that I have expressed publicly before. I realize that some people disagree with my opinion and I accept and respect that. As has been the case in the past, my beliefs have not and will not impact my ability to report on the NBA. I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA.”