ESPN Analyst Speaks For Faith In Jason Collins Coming Out

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Most readers are undoubtedly aware of the announcement of NBA player Jason Collins that he’s a practicing homosexual, making him the first athlete in a major professional American team sport to publicly “come out.” What you may not be aware is that some dissent on this topic came from an unlikely source in the person of ESPN analyst Chris Broussard.

I say “unlikely” not to cast aspersions on Broussard, but simply because he’s a reasonably prominent media member at a network that has mostly bowed down to secular liberalism. As such, I was surprised to hear him say the following in light of yesterday’s news…

“I’m a Christian. I don’t agree with homosexuality. I think it’s a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is…” Then after referring to a friendship with ESPN’s openly gay L.Z. Granderson, Broussard added “true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names.”

Broussard has since had to issue a “clarification” of his remarks, but he did not back down from his religious beliefs, ones quite obviously shared by the Catholic Church on this subject. The clarification only confirmed that he has no objection to Collins playing in the NBA.

That wasn’t enough for media people like Yahoo’s Kelly Dwyer, who felt compelled to rush into print with a diatribe against Broussard that said America was not a “theocracy” (although if Broussard ever advocated making it such, I missed it) and that it was “it’s infuriating that Chris would go to this place immediately after talking up the massive outpouring of support he referenced from NBA players earlier in the program (Broussard had mentioned talking to many other players with Christian beliefs on the topic).”

Why is it infuriating? The media is regularly admonishing America that we need to have an open and honest discussion on subjects like these? Does an open and honest discussion mean tuning out the other side completely? Apparently Dwyer and those who agree with him feel that way.

And why was it inappropriate for Broussard to make his remarks yesterday? He’s a socially conservative Christian who covers the NBA at an all-sports network that owns a huge chunk of the TV rights to the league. Why on earth would he not give his view, especially given that his beliefs had apparently been expressed before and he was invited onto the network’s discussion? We might add that “his beliefs” on this speak for those of many, ranging from the Catholic Church, to various Protestant communities to Judaism and Islam.

What’s more disturbing is that Dwyer and his ideological compatriots really don’t grasp that it really is possible to see beyond a fundamental disagreement on questions of right and wrong and still like a person. Does this mean they’re only capable of talking to and connecting with those who toe their line?

It brings to mind the story of Andrew Sullivan and Pat Buchanan. Sullivan is an openly gay liberal writer and Buchanan a socially conservative Catholic and three-time presidential candidate. When it was made public that Sullivan had HIV, Buchanan sent him a note. Sullivan recalled that he expected condemnation and instead received a compassionate response and an offer of prayer. Sullivan at first could not understand how someone who had been so vocally opposed to his lifestyle could reach out in a time of need. He eventually came to realize that however much gay rights supporters get tired of hearing “hate the sin, love the sinner”, for many people that really is the way they live.

Sullivan would later write, “I think it would have been perversely churlish not to recognize his good intent, quietly and privately expressed.” He later lamented that “one of the deepest problems in today’s culture war is the reflexive imputations of bad motives to the opposition and the demonization that inevitably follows. The corollary is believing that we ourselves is capable of nothing but good, and so failing to see where we also go wrong.”

 

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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About Author

Dan Flaherty is a freelance writer living in southeastern Wisconsin with a passion for the Catholic Church, the pre-1968 Democratic Party, the city of Boston and the world of sports. He is the owner of TheSportsNotebook.com, and the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in late 1940s Boston.

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