Jason Collins' decision to come out, making him the first active openly gay athlete in any major U.S. team sport, sparked plenty of conversation on Monday, including a controversial exchange involving ESPN NBA reporter Chris Broussard during a one-hour episode of "Outside The Lines."
During this extended edition of "OTL," Broussard described homosexuality as an "open rebellion to God" and explained why he does not consider Collins to be a Christian.
"Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly ... like 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, you know, that’s a sin," Broussard said during a segment that also included gay ESPN columnist LZ Granderson. "And 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. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian."
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In a moving, first-person editorial published by Sports Illustrated, Collins wrote eloquently about his decision to come out. He explained how his family's Christian values helped make him more tolerant.
I'm from a close-knit family. My parents instilled Christian values in me. They taught Sunday school, and I enjoyed lending a hand. I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding. On family trips, my parents made a point to expose us to new things, religious and cultural. In Utah, we visited the Mormon Salt Lake Temple. In Atlanta, the house of Martin Luther King Jr. That early exposure to otherness made me the guy who accepts everyone unconditionally.
In a separate segment on ESPN on Monday, Broussard said he had heard a "mixed bag of reactions" to Collins' announcement from current and former NBA players.
While Broussard does not name the players who may have apparently had negative reactions to the news, there were several notable players publicly offering their support and expressing their admiration for Collins.
UPDATE 12:20 a.m. 4/30: Several hours after his appearance on "Outside The Lines," Chris Broussard shared a statement via Twitter.
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.
ESPN also issued a statement on Broussard's comments, obtained by Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated.
“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.”