Christian Sportscasters Come Under Fire for Opposing Homosexuality
ESPN’s Chris Broussard is criticized but keeps his job, unlike a Canadian Catholic sports anchor who also defended traditional marriage.
NEW YORK — U.S. sportscaster Chris Broussard came under fire after condemning homosexuality recently in the context of the “coming out” of pro basketball player Jason Collins, but he appears to have weathered the storm.
Canadian sports anchor Damian Goddard suffered a very different fate: Last month, a Canadian human-rights tribunal upheld his firing in 2011 for tweeting support of traditional marriage two years ago.
Now, Goddard is urging American Christians to stand up for their rights, in order to prevent the United States from following Canada’s lead in enforcing politically correct views on homosexuality in the public square and the workplace.
The pitfalls for a sportscaster in not supporting homosexuality were displayed to American audiences after Broussard made his April 29 comments on ESPN’s Outside the Lines show regarding journeyman NBA player Jason Collins’ announcement that he was both homosexual and a person whose parents had “instilled Christian values in me.”
Broussard, who covered professional basketball for several years for The New York Times before going to work for ESPN as a writer and TV commentator, said that homosexual behavior is incompatible with Christian morality, as is all sexual behavior outside marriage.
“I’m a Christian,” Broussard said. “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.”
His comments met with a deluge of criticism in the news and entertainment media.
“Gay young men and women have an impossibly tough time growing up and attempting to fit in, even as our culture shifts to become a more tolerant society,” said one of Broussard’s critics, Yahoo Sports columnist Kelly Dwyer. “The last thing they need is to see someone like Chris Broussard, who ESPN (and by extension, the NBA) trusts as its voice both at games and in studio, to be referring to them as sinners who are in ‘open rebellion to God.’”
A homosexual lobby group called Faithful America claimed that it quickly got 24,900 signatures on a Web petition condemning Broussard’s remarks and calling on ESPN to suspend him.
Michael Sherrard, executive director of Faithful America, told the Christian Post, “Our members are appalled that ESPN would allow one of their sportscasters to mischaracterize our faith and use the teachings of Jesus as the basis for gay bashing.”
Public Support for Broussard
But despite the negative reaction, ESPN merely expressed “regret” initially about the incident and declined to discipline Broussard.
The network might have been influenced in its stance by the positive public response to the sportscaster’s remarks. Web comments on Dwyer’s piece ran three-to-one in Broussard’s favor, for example, as did a Los Angeles Times online poll.
Nor did Broussard back down, though he did tweet about Collins’ “bravery.” He also called up a New York radio show that criticized his comments and debated its hosts about Christian morality and their claims that homosexuality was genetic.
ESPN's president, John Skipper, subsequently discussed the matter in mid-May, commenting that that the sports network “made one mistake” in its coverage of Collins’ “coming out” — in “not being more careful with Chris Broussard,” by allowing him to express “personal comments” about the matter.
Skipper elaborated that openly homosexual ESPN senior writer and columnist LZ Granderson, who also expressed his viewpoint on the same Outside the Lines segment, was allowed by ESPN “to talk from a personal point of view,” whereas Broussard was “a reporter, and it was a mistake for him to cross the line into a personal point of view there.”
Skipper added that ESPN executives “don’t quarrel” with Broussard’s right to his personal viewpoint, “although we do assert as a company that we have a tolerant point of view; we are a diverse company, and that does not represent what our company thinks.”
Meanwhile, the political and media acclaim of Collins’ decision to make his sexual orientation public continued.
President Barack Obama praised him at a news conference, and he got tweets from former President Bill Clinton and from first lady Michelle Obama, who tweeted, “So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We’ve got your back! – mo.”
Some homosexual-rights supporters even likened Collins to Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play major league baseball, whose famous breach of the color barrier in April 1947 is said to have prompted the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces in 1948.
According to MSNBC Live host Thomas Roberts, the two pro athletes’ legacies would be “forever united now on the civil-rights front.”
Michael Brown, host of the Christian talk-radio show The Line of Fire, countered in CharismaNews that the Robinson claim was “actually laughable” because Robinson led the way for blacks to overcome discrimination in all walks of life.
Collins, said Brown, was merely following in the wake of “prominent and influential gays and lesbians like Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John, Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow.”
Damian Goddard’s Experience
The media praise of homosexuality and the vilification of its critics is to be expected, says Canadian sportscaster Goddard.
Goddard, who is Catholic, was a weekend anchor with Rogers Sportsnet, a Canadian cable network, two years ago, when he tweeted in support of “the traditional and TRUE meaning of marriage.”
Although he made the comments in a private capacity, in support of a hockey agent who opposed a pro-same-sex “marriage” endorsement by National Hockey League player Sean Avery, he was out of a job the next day.
Goddard, who worked for Rogers for 15 years prior to his firing, subsequently filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Rogers, alleging he was discriminated against for upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church.
In a decision released in April, the commissioned rejected his complaint, “after finding no link between ‘the complainant’s religion and the termination of his employment contract,’ according to Mr. Goddard,” the National Post reported.
Goddard told the newspaper he was considering an appeal. “If we turned the tables, and someone had been fired for tweeting for gay marriage … what ground would that hold up on?” he asked.
Goddard says Canada’s media and politicians have been intimidated by the homosexual lobby, and, in consequence, the whole country is now directed by political correctness.
“It goes beyond the same-sex issue. Parliament won’t even talk about abortion or post-abortive deaths,” Goddard told the Register. “There is a real animus towards people like myself who take a stand for their faith.”
‘An Object Lesson’
Goddard was hired as a spokesman by the National Organization for Marriage to help in their fight against the legalization of same-sex “marriage” during the 2012 U.S. election cycle.
Now he is starting a Christian website called IgniteTV.ca and is working with prominent Catholic commentators Michael Hitchborn and Taylor Marshall on its content.
Comparing his experience with Broussard’s, Goddard warns that “Canada is ahead of the U.S. on the curve of intolerance, but the U.S. is moving that way. It’s time to stop it.”
Said Goddard, “What is happening in Canada is absolutely an object lesson to the U.S.: People who are sticking to their biblical beliefs are going to come under fire.”
Register correspondent Steve Weatherbe writes from Victoria, British Columbia.