When ESPN finally got around to reporting about the historic coming out of NBA player Jason Collins on Monday, the conversation on Outside The Lines devolved to contributor Chris Broussard claiming that Collins is “walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ” because he’s “openly living in unrepentant sin.” Since then, both ESPN and Broussard have released statements addressing the segment, neither of which includes any form of apology.
Broussard acknowledged that “some people disagree” with him, but he actually believes Jason Collins “displayed bravery” by coming out:
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.
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.
There’s nothing “respectful” about Broussard’s contributions to the discussion, and his anti-gay views are the opposite of a distraction. Indeed, how people respond to a gay player is at the very heart of Collins’ historic announcement. ESPN knew full well what Broussard would have to say — he made quite clear in 2009 that he believes gay people need to change their sinful “lifestyle,” admitting he’d even be uncomfortable showering with fellow commentator LZ Granderson after they play basketball together. He’s certainly entitled to those beliefs, but ESPN had no obligation to provide him a pedestal for them.
ESPN’s decision to incorporate Broussard’s input is not so dissimilar from MSNBC or CNN inviting Tony Perkins or Peter Sprigg from the Family Research Council to illegitimately speak on behalf of all Christians. Those networks should be held accountable for the hateful views of their guests, even when they go unacknowledged in a given segment, but especially when they make their condemnations on-air.