With the news that free agent center Jason Collins had decided to come out as the first openly gay NBA player, most of the discussion has been centered on what a breakthrough the moment may well become for gay athletes in every sport, from baseball to football and so on. But an open dialogue on ESPN's Outside the Lines program turned into a forum for NBA writer Chris Broussard to spout his own intolerant views on homosexuality, couching his stance in some extreme religiosity that has made other members of the sports media shake their collective heads in shock.
But the comments from Broussard should not have been surprising to anyone with a clue about his history with this particular viewpoint, and you can be sure that ESPN producers knew what they were doing when they put him on the air.
In an April 2009 radio interview, Broussard talked candidly about his faith, about how he believes homosexuality to be something that goes against his born again Christian values and how he spreads his religious beliefs as part of his job as an NBA writer for ESPN. (The interview is embedded as part of a larger Flash-based audio file, but we've extracted and embedded audio of his interview down below.)
In short, his views haven't changed much in the past four years, except that he had a much bigger outlet today on ESPN. More than anything, it's an interesting discourse on his faith, how he spreads his religious beliefs through his job as an ESPN sportswriter, and (finally) the ESPN article he wrote in 2007 where he declares his belief that homosexuality is a "sin."
Among other nuggets he drops over the course of this 46-minute interview:
• On the NBA: "It's not quite Hollywood, but it's pretty close. But as a Christian, I just walk boldly as a man of God. And do me, as they say, and just try to be a light to these brothers and sisters." (Part 1, 6:45 mark)
• Used to exchange Christian hip-hop CDs with Allan Houston and Charlie Ward when he was a Knicks beat writer for The New York Times, and even attended church with them once. (Part 1, 8:00 mark)
• On Michael Redd: "In terms of discussions about living the Christian life in the NBA, he really had the greatest story," going on to explain how Redd was "celibate" in the league for three and a half years before meeting his eventual wife. (Part 1, 9:45 mark)
• An anecdote about how former coach Sam Mitchell had "finally found that peace" after rediscovering religion. "Who knows how many other seeds got planted through Michael Redd, Allan Houston, Tyson Chandler, all these brothers, and many more? ... The Lord has his lights in the league." (Part 1, 12:30 mark)
• A long list of his favorite Christian hip-hop artists. (Part 2, 0:55 mark)
• "What I do with players a lot of times is I'll give them a CD. I might be able to fit 18, 19, 20 songs on it, and I'll mix up different artists. I never know how the Lord uses it, but I remember a few years back, Stephon Marbury was playing in Phoenix. I gave him a Christian hip-hop CD ... I don't even know if Stephon listened to it, but the last few years, he's been claiming to be born again. I knew he grew up in a church home, a church family, so I don't know if the CD planted a seed or not, but it may have. I've given Andrew Bynum a couple of Christian hip-hop CDs." Follows that with a story about sending Kobe Bryant's publicist a link to a Christian hip-hop artist's music. (Part 2, 2:00 mark)
• Mentions Dwyane Wade's mother and how Wade bought her a church: "He already has seeds planted in him." (Part 2, 5:45 mark)
• How he was taken aback by sportswriters writing about John Amaechi's disclosure that he was gay: "They were writing from a very pro-homosexual standpoint." (Part 2, 9:10 mark)
• Broussard on why he wrote the Amaechi article: "Because I follow the Lord and the word of God, I don't agree with homosexuality, and it doesn't mean you not progressive and you're not enlightened and anything like that. ... The Lord definitely moves through that article." (Part 2, 9:53 mark)
• More on why he wrote the Amaechi article: "A lot of the time, when people talk about diversity, in reference to Christians, they want us to basically give up our beliefs to accommodate them. And my point was, that's not diversity. If we all have to agree, that's not diversity. Diversity is me being able to say, 'OK, I disagree with your lifestyle, but I'm still going to treat you with respect and love, even though I disagree with it.'" (Part 3, 0:45 mark)
Interestingly, the story is nowhere to be found in the ESPN.com archives. (It was published in mid-February 2007.)
But here's the article in its entirety, apparently used "courtesy of ESPN."
So ESPN, in all its infinite wisdom, had to have known exactly what it was doing when it put Broussard on the air today. (The segment was also re-aired later in the day.) ESPN is a $40 billion global media conglomerate. Nothing it does is by accident. Speculating on motives is a whole other issue here, but if you think the Worldwide Leader's human resources department doesn't already have an internal dossier with everything you've just read and heard, then you don't know ESPN.