Update 12 A.M.: ESPN has responded to the controvery surrounding Chris Broussard's statement, saying “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.”
8 P.M.: Only a few short hours after NBA star Jason Collins came out as openly homosexual, ESPN sportscaster Chris Broussard stated that Collins homosexuality means he is “walking in open rebellion to God.”
On Monday, Collins announced that he is gay in a self-written Sports Illustrated article due to be published on May 6. Collins is currently a free agent who spent the 2013 season playing for the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards.
“I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay,” read the opening of Collins’ article. “I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation.”
Later in the article, Collins stated that he still feels inspired by the Christian values his parents taught him as a child. “I take the teachings of Jesus seriously, particularly the ones that touch on tolerance and understanding,” Collins wrote.
Soon after Sports Illustrated published the announcement in advance of the magazine’s May 6 release, the Internet was abuzz with responses to Collins’ announcement as the first openly gay professional athlete in America. Amid high-profile endorsements from the likes of Bill Clinton, Collins was also condemned for his open homosexuality. One of the strongest condemnations came from ESPN’s very own Chris Broussard.
On Monday, Broussard appeared on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” to discuss Collins’ announcement. Broussard, who spoke alongside openly gay colleague LZ Granderson, stated that Collins could not be a Christian because of his homosexuality.
“Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly, like premarital sex between heterosexuals,” Broussard said on air. “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. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, whatever it maybe, 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."
According to Variety, Granderson responded to Broussard soon after his comments, stating that neither Broussard nor anyone else should judge Collins for his orientation.
“My response is that faith, just like love, just like marriage, is personal,” Granderson said, “and if you try to use a broad brush to paint everyone’s faith, what you really are painting is a world that’s comfortable for you and not a world in which in this country we’re allowed varying forms of religion. And just because someone doesn’t agree with one person’s interpretation of the Bible vs. another, doesn’t mean that they have exclusive rights to dictate how that person should live. I would love not to have premarital sex, but in this country, I’m not allowed to get married.”
Watch a video of Broussard’s comments on Jason Collins below, courtesy of ThinkProgress.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.