Florida junior center Patric Young has never been afraid to speak his mind or express himself during his college basketball career.

A Telecommunications major and two-time SEC scholar athlete of the year, Young writes a blog during the offseason. He’s active on Twitter (well, he did shut down his account to focus on the NCAA Tournament in March, but that’s understandable).

So Young was quick to come to the defense of ESPN NBA reporter/analyst Chris Broussard for his views on Jason Collins, an NBA center who announced his sexuality on Monday to become the first openly-gay athlete in major professional sports. Broussard, a devout Christian, called homosexuality a sin during an ESPN episode of “Outside the Lines”

“There was nothing Chris Broussard said that I did not disagree with,” Young tweeted. “I would be really upset if he gets punished.”

That sparked a debate on Twitter. A follower asked Young if he was OK with homosexuals playing professional sports: “Yes, of course”, Young responded.

Later, Young tweeted: “Just know we all have to answer to the man upstairs one day. I have no intentions to offend but know there is no condemnation if you accept.”

For background, Young is heavily involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Last summer, Young, teammate Will Yeguete and Florida football player Trey Burton were part of a missionary group that traveled to the Ivory Coast in West Africa, providing food and aid to needy citizens.

Basketball has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to diversity. There are more minorities in the front offices and coaching ranks of the NBA than any other major American professional sport. In the Southeastern Conference, more than half (eight) of the 14 men’s head basketball coaches this past season were minorities, more than any other BCS Conference.

But Young has a right to express his views on the topic. Debate and dissenting opinions, however popular or unpopular, are part of what makes America free. Young isn’t saying he wouldn’t accept a gay player on his team, just that he doesn’t agree with his lifestyle. To quote Voltaire: “I may not agree with what you say, but defend with my life your right to say it.”

I’m sure Joakim Noah would have a different take on the subject. But that’s another story for another day.


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