An announcer was caught on a hot mic directing racist remarks toward players on the Norman High School girls basketball team Thursday as they knelt during the playing of the national anthem before their Oklahoma state quarterfinals playoff game against Midwest City High School.
Creighton Bluejays forward Mykel Parham (34) and Creighton Bluejays guard DeArica Pryor (3) kneel … [+]
When the announcers, apparently assuming their feed wasn’t live, saw members of the Norman High team kneeling, one can reportedly be heard exclaiming, “They’re kneeling? F****** n******. I hope Norman gets their a** kicked.”
In the video, which went viral on social media Friday morning after being posted to Twitter by Norman’s coach, the announcer goes on to say, “(Expletive) them. I hope they lose.”
Norman Public Schools superintendent Nick Migliorino released a statement Friday, calling it “tragic” that the “vile, malignant words” of the broadcasters overshadowed the team’s victory.
Migliorino added that the school would “do everything in our power to support and uplift our team and everyone affected by this incident.”
The announcer, Matt Rowan, issued an apology Friday, and claimed that he was disoriented because he’s a diabetic and his blood sugar levels were high.
The game was broadcast by the National Federation of High School Network, with the announcers hired by the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, and both companies released statements on Friday condemning the racist comments and issuing apologies, as well as announcing they would investigate the incident.
“People want to know why we kneel,” tweeted Norman High senior Chantae Embry. “Here’s a prime example of why we do it. I’m proud of my team and i for using our voices and being heard.”
Last summer, after taking a hardline stance to stop players from kneeling during the Anthem, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued an apology, saying in a video message, “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.” Goodell’s apology came amid weeks of protests against systemic racism and police brutality toward minorities touched off by George Floyd’s death. The vast majority of NBA players knelt during the anthem after last season’s re-start in Florida and received considerable criticism from many prominent Republican politicians, including former president Donald Trump, and popular conservative pundits.
A fight broke out two weeks ago at an Oklahoma boys basketball playoff game between John Marshall High School and Newcastle High School due to “vile, racist and derogatory taunting” of John Marshall’s Black players, according to Paula Lewis, the chairperson of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education. Lewis stated that children “should never have to face being the subject of racial attacks and slurs at any school event.”
Drew Brees Says He ‘Will Never Agree With’ NFL Players Kneeling During National Anthem (Forbes)
NBA’s Ratings Drop Not Due To Blowback Over Players’ Activism, Poll Suggests (Forbes)
‘Vile racist’ taunts incite fight at Oklahoma high school basketball game (The Oklahoman)
High school basketball: Announcer directs racist comments at Norman High girls on state tournament live stream (Norman Transcript)
I’m a New York-based news desk reporter for Forbes covering sports, politics and business. Please feel free to contact me via email (tsbeer7 [@] gmail.com) or Twitter