Updated with ESPN’s statement of “regret” that the basketball analyst’s opinions about gay people were a “distraction,” and with Broussard’s statement.
There are a number of puzzling things about ESPN’s Chris Broussard disaster Monday, during which the basketball analyst said of Jason Collins’ historic coming out, and, in fact, all pre-marital sex, “I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”
At 10:44 p.m. EDT Monday, ESPN sent out a comment about the Broussard mess: “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.”
So no apology from Broussard. And if he’s being punished or benched, ESPN isn’t saying here.
Neither of which is a surprise, since ESPN got itself into this ridiculous, impossible situation by soliciting one of its employee’s religious beliefs on the air to inform a discussion about the huge Collins news. Leaving the network no recourse, no matter what he said, under the veil of those strongly held beliefs. What I would like to know, therefore, is why they put Broussard on live TV to discuss his personal feelings about Collins, homosexuality, and Christianity, rather than his area of professional expertise — basketball — in the first place. Having been scooped bySports Illustrated on Collins, ESPN then went and made things even worse.
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Broussard has made his point of view about gay people clear in the past. After former NBA player John Amaechi came out, Broussard wrote about the larger issues, as well as his complicated feelings about being friends with ESPN’s LZ Granderson, who is an out gay man. It’s actually pretty interesting. He wrote that when they play basketball together, he gives him “high fives and hugs” and “his sexuality is not an issue.” He wondered whether he’d be uncomfortable in post-game showers with Granderson, but then concluded, “I think the awkwardness would wear off fairly quickly.”
He also wrote: “I know he’s gay, and he knows I believe that’s a sin. I know he thinks I get my moral standards from an outdated, mistranslated book, and he knows I believe he needs to change his lifestyle.”
Granderson was Broussard’s fellow guest on ESPN’s Outside The Lines today, but instead of a nuanced take, Broussard said things like, “I would not characterize that person as a Christian, because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”