Broussard Shows ESPN Only Knows One Way to Keep Score

chris broussard jason collins

Truth be told, nobody was really interested before Monday in whether ESPN basketball analyst Chris Broussard thinks homosexuality is a sin. For the most part, he’s content to weigh in on whether the Lakers need to make a change before the trade deadline, or Oklahoma City has enough firepower to win a playoff series with star Russell Westbrook out of the lineup.

Still, there was Broussard being asked to discuss the news that NBA center Jason Collins had revealed he’s gay, becoming the first U.S. player in a major professional  team sport to do so. And Broussard responded by unleashing this lesson on biblical theology: “If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, (but) adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals … I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ,”  he said. “I would not characterize that person as a Christian, because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”

Update: Asked to comment about criticism of Broussard’s remarks, ESPN sought to have it all ways in one statement, which read:  “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.”

In other words, we respect Broussard’s right to his opinions; we just sort of wish they hadn’t become a “distraction” — which amounts to PR-speak for “Let’s try to make this go away without potentially offending anyone else,” on either side of the debate.

Now, Broussard is obviously not alone in these views — although if the NBA ever initiates a policy against premarital sex and fornication, good luck fielding one team, much less 30. But the real question is whether he, and ESPN, were equipped in journalistic terms to deal with a news story that went beyond the usual X’s and O’s.

In this regard, watching the sports network try to navigate the Collins story brought to mind another bit of breaking news playing out almost simultaneously — the New York Jets splitting with quarterback Tim Tebow, who is as well known for his devout evangelical Christianity as his exploits on the field. Whatever you think of Tebow’s merits as a player, the NFL’s heightened ratings with him had at least as much to do with those rooting for or against him because of his faith, an issue football analysts have often struggled to put into the proper context.

So it goes with the uncomfortable juxtaposition of sports and larger societal issues, whether that’s gay rights, religion, big business and labor matters, or NBC’s Bob Costas discussing America’s relationship with guns. (Notably, ESPN did suspend analyst Rob Parker in December for comments he made about the “blackness” of Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III.)

The truth is sports media — including sportstalk radio, which is almost invariably the shallowest part of the media gene pool — are frequently in over their heads when called upon to deal with anything of greater consequence than who won last night’s game. Perhaps that’s why a random sampling of the local L.A. sportstalk shows Monday found most seeming to be more interested in dissecting the abrupt end to the Lakers’ season than the implications of the Collins announcement.

For now, though, the Collins story is big news (he’ll appear on “Good Morning America” Tuesday), and ESPN — the biggest player in the world of sports journalism — is going to have to cover it.

The question is whether the channel needs to look beyond its customary assortment of talking heads, or otherwise risk more exchanges like the one of which Broussard was a part on Monday. Again, Broussard has every right to his personal opinions, but what he expressed goes well beyond his role as an expert on basketball.

From its weekly sports journalism showcase to its “30 for 30” documentaries, ESPN does some yeoman work. So far, however, in regard to the Collins story the channel and its hoops crew clearly look way out of their league.

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  1. Morina says:

    Seriously?! Punish someone for stating his own beliefs…. WTF America, that’s your freedom of speech… give me a break… Broussard is one of the most respected names in the sports nowadays, and just because he’s not ‘so open-minded’ ESPN should punish him?! yeah, sure! my hero is not Collins, because honestly I couldn’t care less with whom he sleeps at night, or what does he like… neither I care what Broussard thinks about gays… but he’s done no sins stating his beliefs… he’s got my out-most respect, especially now….

  2. Sandy Willis says:

    Boussard has as much right to give his feelings on the gay lifestyle as Collins wants everyone obviously to know his sexual preference. There should always be a right to express the opposing view. Our more liberal Americans seem to want only one viewpoint. A gay pride event is said to be wonderful but wow what would a Christian parade showing the opposing view be seen as-I do believe we would be termed bigots just because we do not agree that homosexuality is a normal lifestyle. I am a lifelong Democrat with Masters degree not a right wing Republican. I feel that our recent politicians who have changed their views both parties by the way did so to gain votes so I have no one to vote for. Surely there are some Christian politicians who believe as Broussard and I do who can be brave enough to say so.

  3. Part of the problem is that so many people want to hide Christ under a rock until Sunday morning. Living out of a Christ center conscientiousness is uncommon for so many people who call themselves Christian. The still try to serve two masters, God and the World. It just does not work. Straddling the fence will always get your butt in trouble. Chris obviously walks the talk and is not ashamed of it. Being committed to a Christ center life (Christian) requires death to worldly thoughts and actions. .

  4. Darius says:

    Mr. Collins has the right to declare himself a homosexual and he should not be discriminated in his profession for it. He does not have the right nor does any else who claims to be gay or homosexual to declare themselves to be a homosexual Christian. The character of God is blasphemed by people taking the name of God in vain. If a gay person or homosexual person wants to be a Christian, let them repent for breaking Gods commandments and seek the grace of God to be born again and to have their minds renewed by the spirit of holiness. Holiness without which NO MAN shall see God. There are conditions to being a Christian. If you are not willing to count the cost and die to your ego and self, then the world is were you belong and there are many other faiths you can chose to be. Pick any one of them but NEVER take the name of God in vain by claiming to be a homosexual Christian. If professed Christians weren’t so hypocritical and reprobates in our day and age the name of God would not be so blasphemed by the conduct of those who profess the name of Christ while denying his character. To deny the character of God is to deny God himself. Chris is right by trying to separate the name of God from Mr. Collins. It should be perfectly clear to all in the world that Mr. Collins and every other member of the LGBT do not have any part with the God of the Bible in their ungodly lifestyle. God does not accept them, his word does not accept their conduct and if they want to be Christians they need to repent, believe God atones for their sins and seek the grace of God daily to be born again and live in harmony with the word of God. IF not, then let them go be whatever other religion you want to be but don’t delude yourself into thinking you are a Christian. Every true Christian will never allow you to drag the name of God in the mud and make the people of the world believe that there is no difference between righteousness and wickedness. I commend Chris Broussard for the moral courage to call out that hypocrite and draw the line in the sand for everyone who deludes themselves into thinking that God accepts sexual immorality.

  5. Tim M says:

    I am in strong belief of the fact that you should be able to do what you feel is right as long as you are not hurting others in the process. What I mean by hurting others however, does not always extend to an individual’s feelings. I would never maliciously disrespect anyone’s lifestyle, beliefs or feelings but I believe this is often, if not usually done in mainstream media conversations regarding the LGBT community. I know equal rights is something they’ve been striving for, and I believe they should have them. A part of equal rights is equality in differing opinions on the matter. It is very difficult however, to have progress in a society where if ONE person takes offense where there was none offered, everyone jumps on that bandwagon because of fear or a mob mentality. In Chris’ remarks, he was offering HIS opinion and I believe HE is the sole expert of what his opinion is. Whether or not I agree with him, is immaterial. He was asked his opinion, he didn’t offer it, either way we shouldn’t damn him for it. My one and ONLY problem with this argument is that it seems the LGBT community as a whole asks for, even demands acceptance and tolerance. Anyone that does not support this lifestyle is often criticized, even ostracized for their beliefs. I watched the OTL episode and I believe the equal sharing of the views of one heterosexual and one homosexual was possibly the best I’ve seen on television. The funniest thing I took away from those viewpoints was that Chris spoke for himself while LZ seemed to speak for a base. This I believe, is symptomatic of the issue. I have friends that are open homosexuals and they are my friends for the great and genuine people they are, however, if I have a one on one conversation with an individual I shouldn’t have to speak to the entire LGBT community just as I am not qualified to speak for all heterosexuals.

  6. Mac says:

    Lowry: This is very surprising that you have manipulated Broussard’s words and taken them out of context. Broussard’s comments about Collins were in regards to COLLINS CLAIMING TO BE A CHRISTIAN (as Collins stated in the SI article and Broussard was commenting on). Your article paraphrased that part out (you did include a link to another story, but within this article it is never mentioned). Without that context, you shape Broussard to denounce a much broader topic than he actually was commenting on.

    As an avid reader, I hope this is not the beginning of a more sensationalized, agenda-pushing format for Variety now that they have made the leap to the less-regulated (and often less-credible) online world.

  7. ace112 says:

    I respect Chris Broussard for speaking the truth about God word. Espn need to also respect Chris opinion about his belief. Its sad that you as a Christian can’t speak about what you belief without someone telling you to keep your opinion to yourself if it don’t line up with there.

  8. Skim says:

    Jason Collins was a mediorce player. I’m an avid NBA fan and had no idea who he was. Just another “hey Look at me ” stunt.

  9. mwe1859 says:

    I appreciated your comments, Brandon. I well remember Jimmy the Greek getting fired for his patently racist statements (even though he was praising black athletes for being superior!). Had Jimmy been educated rather than fired, the sports audience would have been educated along with him (not to mention Jimmy’s media colleagues). That’s what I hope happens with Mr. Broussard. His ignorance and bigotry provide an opportunity for everyone to learn. I hear homophobic remarks from sports talk people regularly, so there’s a real need for education.

  10. Brandon Seevers says:

    Definitely a primitive and ignorant opinion, but instead of punishing him for his erroneous words, why not have a discussion with Broussard and a dissenting point of view? If Broussard is ever going to flip his opinion, communication is the best method.

  11. dommy says:

    he does not have a right to his opinion IMO becasue he’s lying. just admit “i dont like gays”… but to use the bible as a cover when he knows full well every nba player sins (pre marital sex, fornication beyond having a child, coveting thy neighbors wife, masturbation, gay) against his god sexually, is ridiculous

    • Craig says:

      So you are allowed your opinion of your ‘assumed’ knowledge of his real motives, but another man is not allowed his. Do you know how much this does not make sense, and totally makes your comments illogical and ‘ridiculous’?

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