Jason Collins, an NBA free agent, came out of the closet on Monday afternoon, admitted to being gay in a first person article for Sports Illustrated.
If that was the only news released on Monday afternoon, most of us would have gone on with our day.
However, ESPN decided they were going to put NBA analyst Chris Broussard on a panel for Outside the Lines to talk about Collins and the affect it might have on other NBA players and the NBA itself.
First of all, no one can convince me that ESPN had no idea what Broussard was going to say when they allowed him to give his opinion. They won’t fire him for his opinion because it’s what they pay him for and it’s why they brought him on the program in the first place. They knew exactly what was about to happen. ESPN might have apologized for Broussard’s comments, but it’s only because they wanted to distance themselves from the beliefs of their employee.
For those who didn’t hear Chris Broussard’s comments, here they are:
"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." 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."
There are so many things I could say about this topic but I’ve chosen to go a completely different direction. Do I care that Jason Collins came out of the closet? Not in the least bit. Why? Because most NBA fans didn’t even know who he was until this story came out.
Why is this even news and why do we spend so much time focused on it? After Broussard’s comments, just about every television and radio station wanted to give their two cents. He’s not the first person to admit to being gay and he certainly won’t be the last, so Collins isn’t really breaking ground here.
By the way, for those comparing Collins to Jackie Robinson – stop.
Collins made his decision and made it publically. Broussard was asked for his opinion and he gave it. Maybe ESPN thought he would be politically correct. They were wrong. It’s the backlash over it that I don’t completely understand.
Should everyone we disagree with be fired? I get it if the opinion comes completely out of hate and bigotry, but that’s not what Broussard was doing.
There’s a great line from a television series gone by, West Wing, and it fits so well here. President Barlett, played by the great Martin Sheen, was asked about people disagreeing with something he had said. His response: “It’s the United States of America, not the United States of everyone who agrees with me.”
We’re not going to agree on each other’s opinions; it’s what makes this country great. But we’ve become a society who has lost the art of a great debate. We’ve lost the ability to have a civil conversation about certain topics – this one included.
To those who want to hate Broussard for his opinion, just keep in mind that he not only addressed homosexuality but also heterosexual couples having sex before marriage. He wasn’t addressing Collins as a person and he wasn’t attacking his character. He disagreed with the decision, not hating the person behind it.
To those who want to attack Collins as well as the decision, and to those who want to use scripture to do so, I’ll leave you with this.
A woman was accused of adultery and there were those who gathered around to stone her to death. Jesus, only a few feet from the woman, told them “let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one, they dropped their stones and walked away.
Judge Collins if you want to but take a good look in the mirror before you pick up that stone. Do you think you’re really worthy to fire the first shot?
Hopefully this story, and the fire that goes along with it, will die off and we can get back to more important topics in the sports world.
Written by: Todd Kaufmann
Columnist for throughthefencebaseball.com
follow him on twitter: @t_kaufmann
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