Jason Collins Receives Some Backlash After Coming Out
Though National Basketball Association veteran Jason Collins was overwhelmed by support for breaking barriers and coming out as the first openly gay active professional male athlete in an American major sport, the athlete did get some boneheaded criticisms.
NBA reporter Chris Broussard came under fire after making on-air comments during a special episode of ESPN’s "Outside the Lines." Broussard made his remarks during the show’s segment dedicated to Collins, the Hollywood Reporter points out.
"If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, the Bible says you know them by their fruits, it says that that’s a sin," the reporter said. He then likened homosexuality to any other sex outside of marriage. "If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ."
Broussard appeared on "Outside the Lines" to talk about the potential ramifications of an out player in the NBA. He also said that there are other people who feel the same way he does and that people may not be comfortable about talking sexuality openly.
The reporter then took to his Twitter to expand on his remarks and wrote, "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." He added his personal beliefs do not impact the way he reports on the NBA, saying, " I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA."
Nevertheless, ESPN officials apologized for Broussard’s comments and told the Hollywood Reporter in a statement they "regret" that the discussion of "personal viewpoints became a distraction from today’s news." They added, "ESPN is fully committed to diversity and welcomes Jason Collins’ announcement."
On Monday, Collins made international headlines and stunned the world when he revealed that he is gay in a first-person piece for Sports Illustrated, becoming the first openly gay active professional athlete in a major American sport.
Though there was much more support than backlash towards Collins (within hours of his announced Bill Clinton announced his support and even President Barack Obama personally called him), it should be no surprise that the ultra right took issue with the NBA star’s watershed announcement. Ben Shapiro, editor-at-large of the conservative news site Breitbart.com went on a Twitter rant and mocked Collins.
"So, Jason Collins is a hero because he’s gay? Our standard for heroism has dropped quite a bit since Normandy," Shapiro wrote. "If the only way you can make Sports Illustrated is by announcing your sexual proclivities, you’re a bad player," he wrote in another tweet. Shapiro continued on his rant and said radio host Mark Levin, comedian Adam Carolla, and Republican Senator Ted Cruz are among his heroes.
Anti-gay activist Matt Barber, who has been extremely vocal about his opposition to LGBT rights, also took to Twitter to slam the athlete: "When will the first brave athlete ’come out’ & acknowledge that he & his mother hook up? We need role models for incestuous kids! Courage!"
The ridiculous and insensitive remarks didn’t stop there, however. Bryan Fischer of the conservative group the American Family Association, and a proponent of LGBT rights, also ranted on Collins’ coming out. As Right Wing Watch reports, the conservative pundit spewed rhetoric on his radio show, "Focal Point" and claimed the NBA veteran could face the wake of the revelation.
Fischer said that having "an out, active homosexual" in the locker room would cause NBA members to avoid being on the same team with Collins because he will be "eyeballing" them in the shower. This isn’t the first time Fischer has been concerned about an out athlete. In March he said, "The NFL’s not gonna put up with that kind of nonsense" and "They know you get sexual tension in a locker room ... you can’t avoid divisive things coming into the locker room."
Additionally, as NBC’s Sports Blog Nation points out, radio host and CBS Sports studio host Tim Brando, echoed Shapiro’s rant about Collins’ coming out and said that Collins should not be called a hero.
"The NFL’s not gonna put up with that kind of nonsense," he wrote. "They know you get sexual tension in a locker room ... you can’t avoid divisive things coming into the locker room." He added, "I called Jason and his brothers games in the NCAA’s and was happy for him upon being drafted. He is good guy. Good for him. Hero? No sorry."
The play-by-play announcer then wrote, "I’m hearing Collins is a HERO because he made history! Ok as a Sports Commentator if I make a SEX tape is that history? The word matters ok."