A preemptive request to people on my side

As Kazzy has noted over at the main page, NBA center Jason Collins has come out as gay.  (I feel vaguely fraudulent typing that sentence, as it implies I knew that he was a center, or even what a “center” is in basketball.)  As many have noted in the comments there, this is a really big deal.  I am delighted by this development, and wish Mr. Collins well.

The overwhelming majority of responses to this announcement have been very positive.  I am obviously delighted by that, as well.  However, not everyone’s reaction has been so glowing.

Via TPM:

…ESPN sportscaster Chris Broussard on Monday criticized Jason Collins for coming out, the first male athlete in a major league to do so.

“Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly, like premarital sex between heterosexuals,” Broussard said on ESPN’s Outside The Lines. “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. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, whatever it maybe, 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.”

I do not know how much notice Mr. Broussard’s comments will receive.  Hell, I don’t even know how prominent Mr. Broussard is.  Perhaps I am worried about something that will never come to pass because nobody will pay any attention at all.

However, I feel compelled to send out a request to everyone who (like me) disagrees strongly with Mr. Broussard — please do not demand an apology.  Please.

First of all, he has a right to his beliefs.  I may think they are wrong, but people are entitled to not only believe what they want, they are also entitled to express those beliefs.  Silence from our opponents is not the same thing as victory for our ideas, and demanding the former gets us no closer to the latter.

Further, I have stated my opposition to forced fake apologies before.  Assuming Mr. Broussard provokes the kind of shimmering outrage I predict, and assuming he is eventually pressured to offer some kind of mealy-mouthed non-apology apology that has become de rigueur in such circumstances, we can all rest assured that he will still in his heart believe it is impossible for people like me to be real Christians.  Does anyone doubt for a second that this is true?  What would an apology even signal except that people can sometimes be forced to say things they don’t really mean if public pressure and their job security demand it?

No.  I do not want an apology from Mr. Broussard.  I hope nobody asks for one.  I hope people who share my beliefs can display enough confidence in them that a dissenting view can be uttered by someone without an immediate outcry that he take it back.  I hope that I am worried about something that never comes to pass.

After all, I didn’t come out of one closet for the sake of building them for other people to get into.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. He is going to get some pushback since he made sure to note that it isn’t just about gays. If you are hetero and living “in sin” that is an issue for him. I’m guessing there are few hetero athletes living in ways he doesn’t approve of.

      • As a self-appointed representative of the Up With Fornication crowd and a guy who lived in sin before marriage, Broussard can kiss my shiny metal ass. Other people’s personal lives are none of his business, no matter how much he aches to hear the details of our sexual sinfulness so he can thrill to his own disapproval.

  2. Broussard is a pretty big deal if you follow the NBA; I recognized him right away.

    In all honesty, I wouldn’t think to demand an apology for this particular comment. If anything, it seems to be a question of dogma: can openly gay folks and folks engaged in premarital sexual relationships call themselves Christian? Fuck if I know! I mean, I have an idea, but as a no-longer-identifying-as-such-Christian, that’s not really a conversation for me.

    “After all, I didn’t come out of one closet for the sake of building them for other people to get into.”
    You’ve written some great stuff here… Tons of it. But that? That’s special.

    • Aw, shucks.

      And as far as I could tell at the time, the Chick-fil-a guy’s anti-marriage-equality stance was premised on pretty much the same grounds. Given that whole brouhaha, I’m bracing for a similar, if smaller scale froth about this.

      I would love to be wrong.

  3. Is it okay if I tell Broussard “How’s about a nice warm cup of STFU and you show me the highlights already”?

  4. Well, frankly I’m not sure adult sports square with the Bible, either. I can’t recall a single apostle who was a professional athlete, or really recall any athletes in the Bible at all if you discount gladiators and such (early Christians had issues about performing in arenas – go figure).

    However, I am shocked to find out that any NBA player might take marriage vows less than seriously. Shocked I tell you.

  5. In all honesty, I wonder how much of Broussard’s comments is the result of ESPN needing someone to stir up controversy. As Kazzy says, Broussard is a pretty big name; however, he’s not someone who people follow for his commentary or passionate opinions, particularly for off-the-court issues. Instead, he’s better known as a more traditional sports reporter with tons of excellent contacts around the league, someone who lives to break stories, not opine on them except to the extent they have on-the-court implications, and definitely not someone people listen to for his opinions on matters of morality.

    BUT….this is ESPN we’re talking about, a network that thrives on broadcasting live competition, and that has determined that this includes making every single issue a debate competition, with clear “teams.” It would not be possible for ESPN to do a straightforward story on the first openly gay athlete in one of the Big Four – it needed to find someone from its roster willing to take an opposing viewpoint and to make that opposing viewpoint in a polarizing manner. My guess is that Broussard was one of a relatively small number of people at The Mothership (Dan Patrick’s nickname for ESPN) with any kind of a profile who was willing to take the anti-Collins position.

    • I wonder… ESPN *knew* this was going to happen sometime in the next few years. How “prepared” are the various responses going to be? They must know which of their in-house folks is going to take the, “Who cares? Let’s just play!” approach and who is going to cry on camera about it and who is going to bash him about it and who is going to take the, “I don’t care that he’s gay but why does it need an announcement” approach and everything in between. This isn’t something no one could anticipate… it is something many folks have been waiting for, pining for, for years. ESPN and its people are not going to be caught with their pants down.

      • I want you to know that it is taking every last ounce of restraint in my soul to refrain from taking that last line of yours and running in the most puerile direction possible.

    • As someone who has literally no memory of ever having watched a single show on the network, I’m in no position to comment on its dynamic.

      But it strikes me as deeply weird that they would actively seek to have someone take a contrary position to the tide of public sentiment. It’s that choreographed?

  6. By the way… I’m curious how much more interested this makes you in our NBA viewing party. I swear, if you spend the whole time playing, “Guess who’s gay?”…

    • I was already (and remain) super excited. And I had already made myself swear to my better angels that I would not spend the entire time commenting on which players I thought were cute.

      I would be more nervous about exposing the depths of my ignorance (see above re: “WTF is a ‘center’?”), were it not for your confession around the time of the Oscars to not having known that Streisand was a singer. I found that comforting.

      • The center, also known as “the pivot”, is the guy in the middle, which is why it’s news that Collins came out as gay. Usually they’re bi.

        • If I hadn’t just watched “Meet the Fockers” last week, I would probably lose a “It that Bette Midler or Barbara Streisand?” game… and not because I necessarily think they look the same… but because all I really know about either is that they are old ladies my grandma liked.

          • I seriously thought you were talking about a Japanese show with creepy manikins. I think that was “Meet the Fukkons” though…

  7. There are a handful of professional sports athletes who have X children by Y mothers and both X and Y are large enough to raise eyebrows. (I mean, if X is 2 and Y is 1, who cares, right? I’m talking about numbers like “12 and 8”.)

    Has this guy given rants about some of these players? I ask because if he’s one of those newscasters who throws out a “the world is going to hell in a handbasket” every couple of reports then he’s one of those newscasters who has something new to complain about this week and, well… he picked something to be ignorant about but, at least, we know that he spends most of his time complaining about the world going to hell in a handbasket.

    If, however, this is the first time he’s been inspired to talk about morality? Well… I’ve met thousands of people like him. I do my best to avoid the hell out of them.

    • Which is not to say that his rant would be “okay” or “welcome” or anything like that, of course.

      • I haven’t seen/heard him do so. I’m also not sure he’s been asked. OTL is ESPN’s investigative, off-the-court wing; I don’t watch their segments regularly but can’t say I’ve ever seen Broussard featured. He’s an X’s and O’s guy. I have no idea how he feels about Shawn Kemp, probably the most infamous serial fatherer in the league.

          • He could be. Again, I can’t say. This is the only time I’ve heard him talk socil stuff. It is also the only time I’ve seen him asked. It is idd that he was on OTL, though I should probably watch the whole segment for proper context.

    • Lots of sportscasters bring this up periodically, often when some player who’s making (quite literally) millions gets hauled in for non-payment of child support. I don’t know whether Broussard is one of them.

    • My eyebrows are staying right where they are until you show me a solution with x < y, thank you very much.

    • Sort of what I was thinking.
      Like the Lakers and the Cowboys are paragons of Christian morality.
      And the Vikings (who decided that they could best be like the Cowboys by doing lots of cocaine, hanging out with hookers, and having trouble with the law, since they can’t win a Super Bowl).

    • “Has this guy given rants about some of these players?”

      Well, there was Bob Costas complaining about touchdown celebrations, but he’s a total racist so he doesn’t count.

  8. I’m actually a little taken aback at how openly he discussed religion. Isn’t that not okay on major television stations? Unless it’s like, the View or something?

  9. It was already public information that this was Broussard’s position, he’d discussed it in the context of his friendship with Granderson in the past. He was surely invited to represent the viewpoint he gave.

    IMO this is a good test of tolerance. Broussard’s position is that people can do whatever they want, but he disapproves on theological grounds. If people take the position that you can’t publicly believe this, they’re taking the position that there’s no place in public life for traditionally-minded Christians. That’s pretty intolerant.

  10. I would like to thank you for writing this article Russell because I completely agree with you on this point. I am in agreement with Mr. Broussard’s statements as I am a Christian and that is how I believe, however I do not use my opinion and beliefs to make them feel bad about themselves. I am a college student who studies music so I am around homosexuals on many occasions and I do not believe they are bad people. I see everyone as equal and we should treat everyone as equal no matter of our personal opinions and beliefs. I do not expect a homosexual man to publicly apologize for his orientation even if I do not agree with him and I would hope that homosexuals would respect my opinion and not expect me to apologize in return. That is what respect is all about. Thank you once again for your thoughts.

    • Thank you for your comment, Jamie.

      While obviously I can’t say I’m delighted by the particulars of your belief system, it is nonetheless entirely your right to have it and to express it as you see fit.

      • Did this exchange really just happen? Clearly the internet is broken.

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