We’re two months past free agent Jason Collins’ public statement in Sports Illustrated, the abbreviated version being “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” Newly hired ESPN ombudsman Robert Lipsyte considers the network’s coverage of Collins’ coming out, in particular, the “Outside The Lines” broadcast of April 29, in which hoops analyst Chris Broussard infamously railed against “adultery, fornication ..premartial sex between heterosexuals”, and described Collins (and ESPN colleague LZ Granderson) as persons “walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.” Calling the OTL episode, “lumpy and unframed”, Lipsyte recalls a 2007 ESPN.com column in which Broussard made no secret of his beliefs (“please don’t compare being homosexual to being black. I consider that insulting to blacks for a number of reasons. The fact that some blacks make the comparison themselves only shows how crushed our racial esteem has become because of America’s oppression”), and in a more recent conversation, Broussard is nothing if not consistent.
“The media in general, not just ESPN, is lopsided in its coverage,” he said. “It’s a cheerleader for the lifestyle and same-sex marriage and puts those who disagree in an unfavorable light. You can see it in the eye rolling and body language of so-called objective journalists. Born-again people are made out to be bigots and intolerant even though there are Neanderthals present on both sides.”
Broussard said he went on the show as “an objective journalist,” but, because it was OTL, he was ready to let the host lead him. As it turned out, Granderson led.
“I was satisfied,” Broussard said. “I would do it again. It was what I believed. It was not out of hate, not in a judgmental way. It was conventional Christian doctrine.
“I got a lot of support from players afterward, especially from Christians, who loved it. Others told me I had the courage to speak out. They said ‘You got big balls, brother, you the man.’”
Broussard called Collins the next night and they talked for about 10 minutes. “I wanted him to know I wasn’t trying to use his announcement for my own views. He seemed OK with it.”