Most tune into ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines’ on weekday afternoons for a smart, sober take on sports issues – a welcomed respite from the inane “embrace debate”-ideal that clouds the network’s typical gabfests. When news that Washington Wizards center Jason Collins had come out of the closet hit late Monday morning, the network appeared to be making up for its clumsy attempts to ignore the huge story initially by bringing Sports Illustrated scribe Franz Lidz (who helped Collins with his masterful column in SI) and ESPN.com writer Kevin Arnovitz for a reasoned, cheery take on Collins’ revelation.
After Lidz, and before we could get to Arnovitz, we had to sit through ESPN reporter Chris Broussard as he re-stated his dismissive take on homosexuality. Years ago Broussard referred to homosexuality as a sin; but the former New York Times NBA beat writer couldn’t possibly keep that line of thinking up – on record no less – in 2013, right? And not on Monday, when just about all reaction to Collins’ announcement was uniformly positive.
Apparently Chris wasn’t swayed. Here are his comments from his appearance on Outside the Lines, as transcribed by Ben Golliver from BlazersEdge and Sports Illustrated:
"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. [ESPN's] L.Z. [Granderson] 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 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 LZ 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."
Watch some of Broussard’s remarks, here, alongside the rebuttal from fellow ESPN contributor L.Z. Granderson, a gay sportswriter that came out years ago:
The Bible, through many translations, sects, and testaments, says quite a few things. It has been used as a basis to defend slavery, segregation, the oppression of women’s rights, and laws forbidden the consumption of shrimp scampi – found in the same Leviticus portion of the Bible that forbids a man to lay with another man. It also says quite a few things about fabric blends and working on Sundays, something Chris Broussard often flaunts in his clear “open rebellion to God.”
Chris Broussard is allowed to say whatever he wants on any subject he wants at any time, such is his right as an American citizen. Whether his personal views on the subject of homosexuality were appropriate for this particular setting is a completely different story. Especially as an American citizen, one that does not live in a theocracy that creates laws and freedoms based off of a religious text.
Broussard’s thoughts served no purpose on this particular program, and it’s infuriating that Chris would go to this place immediately after talking up the massive outpouring of support he referenced from NBA players earlier in the program, while giving his twisted take on the “but I have friends that are gay!”-defense while talking up his friendship with Granderson.
Gay young men and women have an impossibly tough time growing up and attempting to fit in, even as our culture shifts to become a more tolerant society. The last thing they need is to see someone like Chris Broussard, who ESPN (and by extension, the NBA) trusts as its voice both at games and in-studio, to be referring to them as sinners who are in “open rebellion to God.”
(And if you don’t much care that Broussard said as much about gays, those who might want to comment on this article should also understand that Chris Broussard also pointed out that he believes that “adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”
So before you bash away, be reminded of the fact that if you had sex before marriage, or have had sex and are not married, Chris Broussard thinks that you are a sinner that is in defiance of God, and he used the pulpit of a sports talk show to remind you of such. Do you like him saying those sorts of things about you? Now imagine working through that frustration as a 14-year old high school student, tuning into ESPN to learn about a potential positive role model in Jason Collins, only to be told about how wrong they are as a person.)
Broussard is free to live his life as he sees fit, and admonish those that he sees as lacking in the face of his chosen god. We’re also free to question the centuries-old influence that created this line of thinking, and if an appearance on ESPN was the appropriate place to discuss his thoughts on the matter.