His name is as prominent in NBA circles as almost anybody else who’s not a player, so when Chris Broussard speaks about basketball, people have no choice but to listen.
Not that what he says has ever had the volume that Stephen A. Smith’s words on all-things sports have, but Broussard, as a veteran journalist, is a cross between “Screamin’ A.” and the reserved David Aldridge. That’s a good spot for Broussard to land on: the centrist in the world of NBA talkers.
But an NBA insider puts himself in an untenable situation when he mixes his hoops expertise with sociopolitical policy or, in this case, with Christian values. That’s where Broussard finds himself now: in a white-hot mess.
Most of the public lined up behind Collins. President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, his daughter, Chelsea, and millions of others praised Collins, the first openly gay athlete in a major American team sport, for his courage. They argued that no person should feel shame for his sexual preference or be forced to hide it.
Chris Broussard, however, disagreed.
A devout Christian, Broussard called homosexuality a sin. While he never once condemned Collins with the vitriol we often see in social discourse, Broussard was steadfast that he could not support a lifestyle in which men loved men.
Now, his candor has put him in the cross-hairs of conflict between sexuality, the changing mores in America, and Christianity.
I often wonder why we seek opinions on so many issues. We claim to value freedom of speech, a bedrock principle of our democracy. But when the speech differs with our beliefs, we are offended. We cannot hold honest debate — political, religious or otherwise — without attaching labels to people whose positions differ from ours.
That’s what Broussard’s comments on homosexuality have brought him: a label. In many people’s minds, he is a Black homophobe and a hate-mongering bigot, the millennium’s version of Bull Connor and George C. Wallace.
All those people are wrong. Chris Broussard is a lot of things: bright, thoughtful and Christian. He has proved the latter with the Black men’s Christian movement he’s founded. His organization is called K.I.N.G., an acronym for “Knowledge, Inspiration and Nurtured thru God.”
K.I.N.G., an organization I belong to, makes no apologies for its beliefs and the values it espouses. It works to empower men — Black men, mainly — to keep God in their lives as strong, fearless, socially aware, honest and devout believers. Its growth has been because one man, Broussard, followed a dream he had for this earthly world.
I have seen nothing that hints of hatred in Broussard, a man I’ve known for more than a decade. While I don’t agree with his position on homosexuality, I support his right to say it. I support it because, unlike the real McCoy bigots in America’s yesteryear, he has a religious foundation for his thinking, a foundation Christian, Catholic, Islamic clergy everywhere is more likely to support than not. Are these men of God bigots, too?
Yet the controversy around Broussard is less about right or wrong. To me, it’s about the willingness for educated people to sit across the table and debate a difference of opinion. Broussard has never been afraid to voice his opinions, surely not on religious matters.
And we should be just as ready to applaud his candor, even when we can’t applaud what he said.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Courtesy ESPN)