Sports figure comes out of the closet

A noted sports figure came out of the closet.  Not Jason Collins of the NBA saying he is gay.  ESPN commentator Chris Broussard revealing himself to be a Christian, something far more controversial than what Collins did.

I like George Neumayr’s piece in the American Spectator with the title “A Sportscaster Comes Out As a Christian” and the sub-head “But then is told to go back into the closet:

As homosexuals come out of the closet, Christians go into it. “Authenticity” is highly prized in society today, provided that what one feels falls safely within the dictates of political correctness. Sports analyst Chris Broussard stepped briefly outside of the Christian closet on Monday and paid the price for it.

“Personally I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex [lifestyle] between heterosexuals. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that’s a sin,” Broussard said on ESPN. “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 think that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”

ESPN, not long thereafter, apologized for permitting these remarks to disrupt Monday’s canonization: “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.”

Naturally, a Soviet-style clarification was in order from the guilty party, and Broussard supplied it via Twitter by Monday night: “Today on [ESPN], 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.”

This may not be sufficient. The columnist H.L. Mencken defined American puritanism as the “haunting fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time.” Political correctness, as the new puritanism, harbors the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is holding a Christian thought. Broussard, if he wishes to continue his career in sports journalism, will have to undergo PC-style reparative therapy and adopt a more appropriate level of enthusiasm when future canonizations of homosexual athletes occur.

via The American Spectator : A Sportscaster Comes Out As Christian.

Does it matter that a professional athlete is gay?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • sg

    My son is an avid sports fan as are many of his friends. From what I have noticed from his conversations and those of his friends, and honestly from pretty much every discussion of sports from every man I have ever known, there is virtually no interest in the athletes’ private lives. A man can be a huge fan of a particular athlete and know of all his great plays on the field without knowing or caring if that athlete is married, religious, lives in the town where he plays, etc. This interest in athletes’ lives doesn’t seem to be a guy thing. Those TV moments when the discussion turns to off field matters seems to be the signal for guys to get a drink or go to the restroom. Sports are a diversion and commenters ruin that salutary effect when they bring us back to the reality of the feet of clay of the athletes. Like any other performer, the performance is more interesting than the person. We don’t even know these people. Their personal issues are more relevant to those who actually do know them. So, as to the coming out parties, well if they were actual parties in time and space, few would be attending. We are interested in athletes on the field. When the game ends, we have our own lives to interest us.

  • Robin

    I have heard that many around him were shocked by his announcement. Not to mention that his revelation to the sports world comes as he is about to be a free agent. Now he is assured a spot on a team. What great publicity! I’m not saying that he doesn’t have homosexual desires but does anyone else find the circumstances around this story odd?

  • Kirk

    @2

    I think it’s a mix of genuine self-revelation and a desire for publicity. He waited until now because he was pretty sure coming out wouldn’t hurt him. But I have little doubt in my mind that he is, in fact, gay. Not all gay people are effeminate and artsy.

  • Pete

    All right – I’m gonna get in touch with my inner Carl Vehse here, but these homosexuals get my goat. Or more precisely, they get my dictionary. A gay person is a happy person – irrespective of sexual orientation. Not no more, though. They’ve pretty much won that one. Now their working hard on the time-honored term, “marriage”. I’m just chock full of imprecatory thoughts.

  • Jon

    Saw an interview on CNN with his now-ex-fiance (yes, a woman.) She appeared genuinely shocked and dismayed, had no idea that he was gay. But she says she’s happy that he is now being who he is.

    So, from relative obscurity in free agency to the top of the list. Nice move.

    It seems the real news item here is just how much this announcement has resulted in a stampede of voices offering gushing support and celebratory adulation over it. I mean, even a personal phone call from B.O. Wow.

    I’m just glad that ESPN is treating Broussard’s commentary with tolerance. http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2013/April/ESPNs-Broussard-Draws-Heat-over-Collins-Remarks/

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Sin. Period.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    #6: And you are without any?

  • TE Schroeder

    @7 I get it. “Those of you without sin are to cast the stones.”
    Okay. Can we quote God, then? Is that permissible?
    And if we cannot say that sinful things are sinful things, how do we call anyone to repent of anything?
    And we are allowed to call nothing a sin, then Jesus Christ is a grand waste of our time and attention.

  • Dr Luther in the 21st Century

    I guess I am curious as to why Mr. Collins thinks we even care. As sg noted already, when they start up the personal stories I tune out. Most of the time the talk of their personal lives is little more than gossip and I prefer to not put myself into a position of breaking the 8th Commandment.

    Broussard, I think, was set up by his fellow commentator. It isn’t news that Broussard thinks homosexuality is sinful. He has written or spoken publicly about it before. And his fellow commentator asked him directly what he thought of the situation.

    Another commentator commented Mr Collins probably shot himself in the foot. He stated that Mr Collins is a backup center and they are a dime a dozen and most teams aren’t looking for that kind of publicity – not unless he is good to go along with it.

  • Trey

    #7 And you are his Holy Spirit?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Trey, I’m most certainly not. But it appears that many others suffer that delusion.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Another lesson in the media’s secular catechism about how homosexuality is a good, right, and salutary thing, and how the Christian faith is a shameful anachronism from the dark and ignorant past.

    I am flirting with the idea of a total media and internet fast. A number of friends have done it, and they have all said that it has greatly increased their peace of mind. They quit reading/watching/listening to the news entirely, quit reading blogs, and only check email once a day. Instead they read and listen to the Scriptures or other books they deem worthy. They say that if really important stuff happens that they will hear about it from friends and family. It is definitely food for thought.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    KK @6,
    That I have sin does not justify another’s sin like Mr. Collins’. If that were the case, nobody on earth should say anything about anybody else’s sin (Are you a parent, just curiously?)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    J Dean, this is where you loose me! What does it matter if I have children (I do).

    My point is that the stance of Conservative Christianity towards homosexuality is very well known and understood. So why the incessant focusing on it? Why not talk about the sin of say gluttony? Why not every time that a seriously overweight public personage appear, say – he is a sinner! Why not campaign against elected officials who are gluttons? I mean, while gay & lesbian people are a very small minority, and their actions do not affect their neighbours, gluttons damage the entire economy through loss of productivity, soaring medical costs etc etc. Gluttony affects your neighbour, who you should be loving, much, much more than sexual acts in a bedroom. And Scripture has many indictments against gluttony too. (I just picked gluttony as an example, btw – because I struggle against it myself, maybe). So why the gay fixation then?

    I tell you way. Because, apart from the fact that a sizeable portion of Conservative Christians are gluttons (presuming the same obesity rates for them as for the general population), they’d rather fixate on sins which have no chance of affecting them? Why? Indeed, why?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Patrick @ 12,
    Our family did away with the satellite TV in our house a few years ago. Best thing for us.

  • Joe

    KK – one of the reasons that Christians end up speaking out about homosexuality is because homosexuals (generically) want to have a national dialog about how what they are doing is good, right and salutary. I have a hard time with the idea that we’re fixating on something when something is constantly put before us by the very people who then complain when we says something.

    Like Brussard for instance, he was only on show (Outside the Lines – a show dedicated to discussing issues unrelated to player performance etc.) was because ESPN wanted to have a dialog about homosexuality and it was already widely known that he believes it is sinful.

    If anyone ever holds a press conference to announce that they are an unrepentant glutton, that gluttony is good and asks society to accept gluttons, I am confident the church will respond.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Joe, I’m not biting. The reason that press conferences are held is two-fold: One is journalistic sensationalism, and the opportunity to profit from it (it is hard to imagine a world where people have a press conference to say – yes, I eat too much). The second is because such a big issue is made of it in the first place – by its opponents, which goes back to my observations above.

  • Jon H.

    @14 Klasie’s right.
    The fact that Brousard is himself “coming out of the closet” only when confronted with a homosexual athlete says it all. And it’s telling that the only sins he lists as “rebellion” are sexual. We offend God, apparently, only with our genitals. But there’s much to denounce in professional American sports; the outrageous greed, waste, idolization of teams and athletes, exploitation, chemical abuse, risk of crippling injuries, etc. If Brousard has indeed “come out of the closet,” those things might get his attention, like they got Dave Zirin’s.

  • TE Schroeder

    Jon H @18,
    Broussard said, “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 think that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.”
    Sounds to me like he did not limit sins to sexual ones. He focused on ALL sins of which one is unrepentant. However, the topic of the day was Collins’ announcement about his homosexual preferences. Broussard chose to stay on topic.
    But then, I don’t watch EPSN Outside the Lines. Maybe this is Broussard’s show and he was just waiting for an opportunity to blast away on this agenda. Based on the comments of some who are taking Broussard and conservative Chrisitans to task, that must be what happened. Is that accurate?

  • Jon H.

    @19 Not buying it.
    Broussard’s examples were all sexual; even the expression, “openly living in unrepentant sin,” is well known for meaning only sexual sins. No one says (though, why not?) that a Wall Street stock cheat or a racist are “openly living in unrepentant sin.” Even so, Broussard’s focus was plainly not all sin, much less all sexual sin.

  • helen

    Jon H. @ 20
    I have said, in more than one forum, that Wall Street thievery is a sin, that buying a company with a loan against its own assets, stripping it and putting the employees out of work (frequently robbing them of their savings as well) to make a huge profit is unconscionable greed. But I’m not a talking head on a news broadcast, so I’m “no one” and unnoticed.

    BTW, [to whomever mentioned it] not all overweight people are gluttons and not all gluttons are overweight. People “born skinny” [there's a large genetic component] just see heavy people and make false (and sometimes vicious) assumptions. Medical problems can contribute to both extremes, but “you can’t be too rich or too thin”.

  • John C

    It is fitting that a high profile sports broadcaster and Christian should reflect on the sexual inclinations of an elite athlete. It makes it so much easier for less prominent citizens to speak about the moral short comings of their neighbours.
    It’s a pity that Broussard did not divulge his sexual proclivities. As is often the case, Broussard’s comments revealed more about himself than that of his subject.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Helen: Ah, I see. And people who make vicious assumptions about those who are born with a predilection for homosexual behaviour are exempt from this? (Se what I did there?)

    BTW, I know some of those super obese people. I have also observed them piling their plates sky-high at church functions. So yes, some people have a genetic problem. Others are just lazy gluttons, like those Cretans Paul write about….

  • Jon H.

    @21, Helen, I know you’ve been saying that, and I respect you a great deal for doing so. My point isn’t that no one says that Wall Street thievery isn’t sin, but, rather, that no one describes such thieves as “openly living in unrepentant sin.” We use “living in sin” to describe sexual sin, though the phrase shouldn’t be so limited. Here, I submit that Broussard was using the phrase in its well known, limited sense, though it was sparked by Collins’ revelation.

  • Steve Bauer

    I agree with KK. Yet, I have no problem with Broussard’s statement, because it was made in the context of tallking about homosexuality. He did well to broaden the issue to include all (outward!) heterosexual sin, as well. As a Lutheran, I may have even gone into the territory of talking about the fact that there is sin (sexual and otherwise) even in the best of wedded monogamous heterosexual relationships. I could even proceed to say that all the sins we are talking about (sexual as well as all the other ones KK is right in pointing out Christians often don’t lose their shorts about–how about gossip as another one?), are not the real problem. They are all just symptoms of the real disease, the real sin: deep down I want to be my own god, I am blind, dead, and an enemy of God. I do not just sin, I am a sinner. But well before I had gotten there, channels would be changing, the cameras would be trained somewhere else, and there would be no chance to say all that needed to be said.

  • Jon N.

    @25 Is this really the role of a sportscaster, to deliver “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermons whenever someone makes him uncomfortable? No. And Broussard understands that, since, when faced with all kinds of nonhomosexual behavior, he, apparently, has kept perfectly still. But my gripe, bear with me, is, let’s stop saying that he wasn’t singling out homosexuality. Of course he was. Now, defend him or denounce him, but let’s agree that we all understood what he meant.

  • Joe

    Jon – you appear to be talking about Brussard’s past as if you know anything about it. How do you know he has never spoken about other issues, other sins? All I know is that when he was asked a question on a show that was dedicated to talking about Collins’ coming out he answered truthfully and he made sure his answer acknowledged that homosexual sin is no greater than heterosexual sin specifically and all sin generally. I’m not sure how else he could have answered the question any better to your satisfaction. Based on your comments I don’t believe he ever could answer that question to you satisfaction.

    There is an ongoing dialog right now about homosexuality in America. And, I’ll freely admit that in many (most?) cases the Christian response has been terribly lacking in anything that resembles the Gospel. That however does not mean that Brussard falls into that camp. Other adding, “But, in Christ, there is forgiveness for the homosexual, just as there is for all sinners” I’m not really sure what else he should have said.

  • DonS

    As Joe said @ 27, Broussard’s comments were measured, respectful, and applied to all sexual sins in general (appropriate, since sexual proclivity was the topic under discussion), and not just the particular sin of homosexuality. He went out of his way to express his happiness for Collins and his decision to be openly honest about who he is and wished him the best in the NBA and the rest of his life. Nothing he said should have engendered anything other than respectful disagreement from those opposed to his viewpoints.

    As to why this announcement on the part of Collins is front page news — that is another story about how twisted we are as a society and as a people very far from and in open rebellion to God.

  • Robin

    Am I wrong or wasn’t Broussard asked specifically to tell his position on this ESPN broadcast? I believe the man on the other side of the aisle asked for his view point knowing what the guy already thought. It seems that people are upset about his point of view as if he bought air time to tell sinners what’s up. But he was asked. So if you don’t want to know don’t ask.

  • sg

    #6: And you are without any?

    I would assume that J. Dean, like the rest of us, has sins. However, mercifully, he isn’t proudly announcing them on national television.

  • John C

    Broussard’s sins are probably far more interesting than the basketball player’s.

  • sg

    @31

    You have no reason for saying that. Talk about casting aspersions. Shame on you. Again, mercifully, Broussard isn’t proudly announcing and defending whatever sins he has.

  • Hanni

    Let’s face it, folks, we love sex. We love to see it on TV, read about it in books and magazines, watch it in movies and ads and especially talk about it on blogs, gay sex particularly, divorce and adultery not so much. Could it be the lust in our hearts? I don’t know, but I do know this topic will always get waaaay more responses than any other, seems like

  • John C

    There will always be a response to rigid statements of political and religious doctrine.
    Broussard’s comments reinforce prejudice and harden hearts. They offer little hope to kids bullied at school or incarcerated in fundamentalist families.


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