Monday, April 29, 2013

Jason Collins Comes Out; Chris Broussard Causes Kerfluffle

I don't have any words of wisdom on what NBA player Jason Collins did Monday. It's far above and beyond anything I'm qualified to offer much comment about. In a piece on, Collins came out. He is the first active player in a major pro sport to do so, and there probably isn't a better person out there to do something like this, based on the story Collins told SI.

 Now I'm a free agent, literally and figuratively. I've reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.

... When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged. I thought I had to live a certain way. I thought I needed to marry a woman and raise kids with her. I kept telling myself the sky was red, but I always knew it was blue.

I realized I needed to go public when Joe Kennedy, my old roommate at Stanford and now a Massachusetts congressman, told me he had just marched in Boston's 2012 Gay Pride Parade. I'm seldom jealous of others, but hearing what Joe had done filled me with envy. I was proud of him for participating but angry that as a closeted gay man I couldn't even cheer my straight friend on as a spectator. If I'd been questioned, I would have concocted half truths. What a shame to have to lie at a celebration of pride. I want to do the right thing and not hide anymore. I want to march for tolerance, acceptance and understanding. I want to take a stand and say, "Me, too."

It's a great piece from Collins and Franz Lidz. Collins tells a story that is likely shared by (probably) dozens of pro athletes, many of whom will now have the courage and drive to tell their own story, inspired by Collins.

Naturally, Collins' announcement set the internet on fire. I don't know that I want to give the time of day to what Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace tweeted. It's probably a good thing he didn't end up with the Vikings in the offseason, because Chris Kluwe wouldn't have enjoyed that teammate.

National radio host Tim Brando actually compared Collins coming out to him (Brando) potentially releasing a sex tape. It was a poor way of going about ripping people who are calling Collins a hero. It was also one of the more extreme reactions we saw on this day.

On ESPN, once Tebowmania died down (in the 12pm hour, ESPN mentioned Tebow 25 times before Collins' name came up, even though the Collins story had been out for more than two hours), Outside The Lines explored the Collins news and reacted. Enter ESPN's Chris Broussard.

    "I'm a Christian. I don't agree with homosexuality. I think it's a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. [ESPN's] L.Z. [Granderson] knows that. He and I have played on basketball teams together for several years. We've gone out, had lunch together, we've had good conversations, good laughs together. He knows where I stand and I know where he stands. I don't criticize him, he doesn't criticize me, and call me a bigot, call me ignorant, call me intolerant.

    "In talking to some people around the league, there's a lot Christians in the NBA and just because they disagree with that lifestyle, they don't want to be called bigoted and intolerant and things like that. That's what LZ was getting at. Just like I may tolerate someone whose lifestyle I disagree with, he can tolerate my beliefs. He disagrees with my beliefs and my lifestyle but true tolerance and acceptance is being able to handle that as mature adults and not criticize each other and call each other names.

    "... Personally, I don't believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly premarital sex between heterosexuals, if you're openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that's a sin. 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 believe that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian."

No judging here, but this is another controversial viewpoint. In Broussard's defense, he doesn't say anything bigoted (in my view), and he goes about it an interesting way by invoking the name of gay sportswriter LZ Granderson. The fact those two can share a respectful relationship should tell you something about how Broussard is able to conduct himself.

Naturally, the internet was awash with criticism of Broussard, but I don't see anything disrespectful here. It's a viewpoint. Is it a popular one? No, but Broussard isn't ripping anyone for feeling differently, and he isn't ripping Collins for doing what he did. There's no judging going on.

Reality is that we are all going to be judged at some point. It's not our place to do so. But we all have feelings about how we should lead our lives, and we do the best we can to uphold our own beliefs. Those who are overly pushy about their feelings and philosophies can be quite annoying, but simply expressing those views is not pushy or annoying, especially when someone is asking you for said views.

If Broussard starts leading protests outside of arenas Jason Collins is playing in going forward, or if he openly advocates for NBA teams to avoid signing the free-agent-to-be this summer because he's a "sinner," then he will have gone too far. But simply telling an interviewer -- when asked -- how feels about something doesn't make Chris Broussard a bad person.

1 comment:

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