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Chris Broussard's chat attracted more than 300 people to Walter Hall on Thursday

Photographer: Olivia Wallace

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Chris Broussard makes a point during his conversation about sports and society

Photographer: Olivia Wallace

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Chris Broussard and moderator Justin Holbrock share a laugh during the March 26 event in Walter Hall 135

Photographer: Olivia Wallace

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ESPN reporter tackles sports, race and religion during visit


Showcasing his engaging personality during a visit to Ohio University’s Walter Hall on Thursday evening, ESPN NBA reporter Chris Broussard explained how he overcame the odds to become a nationally known television sports reporter.

Broussard, a former Cleveland Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal and New York Times sports reporter, has worked at ESPN since 2004. In addition to serving the network as a TV and radio personality, he also has written stories for ESPN The Magazine and the ESPN website.  

During the 90-minute event that attracted more than 300 people, Broussard shed light on his unique career path into sports writing, his toughest interviews and how he balances his hectic schedule to spend time with his wife and teenage daughters.

Broussard said he never dreamed that he would evolve into a TV personality when he first entered the newspaper business as a young, inexperienced sportswriter.

"Don't despise humble beginnings," Broussard said. "It takes lots of hard work in getting there. Do the best you can. The best way to get to ESPN is to excel where you're at."

Broussard said becoming a sports writer was a natural career choice for him, because he was always a strong writer. He said he wrote rap songs and worked as a disc jockey during his formative years.

When asked about his difficulties in leaving the newspaper business for ESPN, Broussard explained why news writing is different than magazine writing. He said it was a difficult transition for him to go from newspaper writer to feature story writer for ESPN The Magazine. He said he was used to news writing while at the newspapers where he worked.

"In magazine writing, your job is to paint pictures and take the reader on a trip," Broussard said. "Sometimes you work on one story for a month and spend multiple days with the people you are interviewing."

Broussard also defended his controversial April 2013 comments on ESPN's Outside the Lines show. During the episode, he shared his opinion that according to the Bible homosexuality is a sin and people who are openly gay are in rebellion against God.

When asked by an audience member what he would say to the people who were offended by his statements, Broussard said he didn't apologize because he didn't feel as if he did anything wrong. He said he also appreciated that ESPN executives never asked him to apologize.

Broussard said diversity of thought is important and we all need to understand tolerance.

He said he does not hate or discriminate against homosexuals and was simply just stating what the Bible says about it. He told the audience that one of his friends in the journalism business wrote a scathing article about his comments.

"I have good friends who are gay," Broussard said. "We get more diverse by the day in this country. I knew what I signed up for as a Christian. If you stand for what you believe, people have to respect you."

When asked if athletes have a civic duty to comment on important societal issues, Broussard said he would love to see it, but only if the athlete is knowledgeable about the issue.

"If they don't know the issue, don't speak on it," Broussard said. "I also think African-American athletes are in a different situation and I wish more of them would speak out on important issues because they have a more respected voice, especially with power corporations."

First-year sports management major Kaliq Carr said he enjoyed Broussard's talk because he made points that were relatable and interesting to the audience.

"His advice to stick to your guns and stand by your opinion was useful to me," Carr said. "When he was questioned about his comments on homosexuality, he didn't back down and addressed the question with confidence."

Sophomore journalism major Clay Benjamin, vice president of the Ohio University chapter of Associated Press Sports Editors, said the night could not have been better.

"Chris was cool and the audience participated well," Benjamin said. "We're told as student journalists that the best way to get experience is by talking to journalism professionals, so hearing his advice was great."

In addition to the Ohio University chapter of Associated Press Sports Editors, the event was sponsored by Residential Housing, Division of Student Affairs, the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Office for Multicultural Student Access and Retention, Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Broussard finished up his two-day visit on Friday night by serving as the featured speaker at the Rex Crawley Male Think Tank, which was hosted by Kappa Alpha Psi and APSE.

During the event, Broussard spoke for more than an hour about the current state of African-American males in America before taking questions and comments from the audience.

The event was named in honor of late Ohio University alumnus Rex Crawley, who earned an international academic reputation for his outstanding research on African-American male masculinity while serving as a communication professor at Robert Morris University.

After a long courageous fight with cancer, Crawley died on Nov. 25, 2013.