The Broussard brouhaha and why context matters

Context matters.

Take the brouhaha that has brewed over comments ESPN NBA reporter Chris Broussard made concerning basketball player Jason Collins publicly coming out as gay.

From USA Today to the Los Angeles Times, major media latched on to Broussard's comments concerning his personal Christian beliefs on homosexuality.

Chris Broussard usually offers expertise on fast breaks and zone defense, but on Monday he drove right into America's culture wars by calling homosexuality "an open rebellion to God" and implying that gay people can't be Christians.

Speaking on ESPN's "Outside the Lines," the basketball analyst and former New York Times writer was discussing NBA player Jason Collins, who in a landmark move just became the first active player in one of the major pro sports to come out as gay. Collins revealed his sexual orientation in a first-person Sports Illustratedstory.

"I'm a Christian. I don't agree with homosexuality," Broussard said. "I think it's a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is.

"If you're openly living in unrepentant sin ... that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ," he added.

He also expressed some irritation that those who disapprove of homosexuality are, he says, labeled as intolerant and bigoted.

Here's where the context issue comes into play: Most of the reports I've read make it sound like Broussard launched into an unprompted attack on gays. In fact, he was asked a question, and he answered it.

Give the Washington Post credit for making that distinction clear:

ESPN is standing by NBA reporter Chris Broussard after his controversial comments about Jason Collins, the NBA player who on Monday became the first active participant in a major men’s pro sport in the U.S. to publicly say that he is gay.

Nearly all the immediate reaction from present and past athletes was supportive, but in an appearance on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Broussard was asked for his personal opinion on Collins’s comments, and he didn’t hold back. He said he believes homosexuality is an “open rebellion” against God and discussed how that jibes with his views on tolerance.

Now, some might argue that Broussard could have declined to answer the question.

But it's a subject about which he has written before, so the obvious follow-up question would have been: Do you still believe what you have said in the past?

Concerning the Post story above, I do wish the paper had avoided the loaded adjective "controversial" in the lede.

Controversial to whom? Broussard's belief that all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage is a sin falls easily in line with 2,000 years of traditional Christian teachings. News reports would do well to make that clear.

Please respect our Commenting Policy