ESPN NBA reporter Chris Broussard went on “Outside The Lines” yesterday and called being gay a sin and “an open rebellion to God.”
It became a big controversy, and Broussard took a ton of heat.
But when you consider both Broussard’s history and the entire context of the conversation, it’s clear that the producers at ESPN knew exactly what they were getting themselves into, and it’s their fault more than Broussard’s for creating a situation that they’ve now apologized for.
ESPN has a stable of senior NBA writers who could have gone on the show and talked about the league’s reaction to the Collins story. It could have been JA Adande, Marc Stein, or Brian Windhorst. Instead it was Broussard — who has a history of publicly denouncing of homosexuality on theological grounds.
Broussard is a religious person who has made proudly anti-gay statements in the past. When John Amaechi came out in 2007, he admonished the media for praising him, and wrote, “I’m a born-again, Bible-believing Christian (no I’m not a member of the Religious Right). And I’m against homosexuality (I believe it’s a sin) and gay marriage.”
Anyone who so much as follows Broussard on Twitter knows he’s a deeply, openly religious person.
ESPN knew this, and they decided to put him on television to discuss the first active, openly gay athlete in major American team sports history.
Another key point is this: it’s not like Broussard suddenly went off the rails and started talking about religion yesterday, which is how some in the media are depicting it.
When you go back and look at the context of the conversation, Broussard’s statements weren’t out of nowhere at all. The host, Broussard, and ESPN writer LZ Granderson were talking about fellow athletes potentially not supporting Collins, and the conversation touched into religion.
After a three-minute exchange where Broussard stated his beliefs and Granderson responded, the host explicitly asked Broussard to talk about Christianity and homosexuality:
Host: “Now Chris, he mentioned in his article, Jason, that he’s a Christian as well. So what’s your take on that?”
Broussard: “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 characterise that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterise them as a Christian.”
That isn’t by chance.
ESPN knew what it was doing when they put Broussard on the air, and the producers knew what they were doing when they steered the conversation into the touchy territory of religion of homosexuality.
ESPN released a statement last night that only apologized for Broussard’s statements becoming a story, not for the fact that they were made in the first place, “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.”
It’s not Broussard’s fault for saying what he thinks when explicitly asked. You can disagree vehemently with what he said, but he didn’t do anything wrong by saying what he thought when asked.
ESPN put him on the air in the aftermath of a historic moment for gay people in sports and dropped him into a conversation about religion. They knew this is how it would turn out.