Maybe ESPN should stick to sports and leave social issues alone.
Chris Broussard, the network’s influential sports reporter and analyst, called homosexuality a sin during a segment about NBA vet Jason Collins, who on Monday became the first active male player in a major American team sport to announce he’s gay.
Broussard insisted that he wouldn’t characterize Collins, 34, as a Christian.
“If you’re openly living that type of [homosexual] lifestyle, then the Bible says you should know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, that’s a sin,” Broussard said on ESPN show Outside The Lines. “If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality….I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian.”
As ThinkProgress points out, Broussard has previously said that he believes the NBA is “ready” for an openly gay player, but by “ready” he means “tolerate.” In the piece he acknowledges that he “might be a little uncomfortable” showering with a gay teammate.
ESPN did not immediately return a request for comment about Collins, who played on the Washington Wizards and is now a free agent.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace is also coming under fire for his reaction to Collins. The 26-year-old tweeted, “I’m not bashing anybody don’t have anything against anyone I just don’t understand it.” He added “All these beautiful women in the world and guys wanna mess with other guys…”
Wallace later deleted the tweets and apologized to anyone he may have offended. The Miami Dolphins issued a statement saying his remarks do not reflect the views of the team.
As a whole, however, much of the reaction to Collins’ announcement has been positive, with many pro athletes and public figures t tweeting their support for him. That includes includes from his teammates, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Fist Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, NBA Commissioner David Stern, Human Rights Campaign Chad Griffin and more.
Jon Wertheim, who worked on the Sports Illustrated cover story on Collins’ coming out, told Hardball’s Chris Matthews that he believes the support for the basketball player “will overwhelm any criticism.” He added those critics who make homophobic remarks “are going to realize they’re really the ones that are on the margins.”
Wertheim predicted that Collins is going to be the most popular player in the NBA, and called his announcement “a watershed moment for sports.”
Matthews said “Whether [Collins’] announcement is met with a shrug or shunning will go a long way towards telling us just how far sports–and the public–has come on accepting gays.”