Announcer Blames Type 1 Diabetes For Making Racial Slur About Girls Basketball Team

Kneeling quietly during the national anthem has become a way to protect against racial injustice as … [+]

Racism is not typically a symptom or a complication of diabetes. Your doctor is probably not going to tell you that Type 1 diabetes may lead to more frequent urination, numbness or tingling in your hands or feet, fatigue, and the use of racial slurs.

Nevertheless, basketball announcer Matt Rowan seemed to suggest that his having Type 1 diabetes was responsible for his using the N-word when referring to a high school girls’ basketball team.

Yep, Rowan was serving as an announcer for a basketball game between the Norman High School and Midwest City High School girls’ teams in the Oklahoma 6A State Basketball Tournament. Rowan and his fellow broadcaster were on a brief break from the broadcast during the playing of the national anthem prior to the game. But they may not have realized that the microphone was like the insides of a Hot Pocket after its been in a microwave: still hot.


During the anthem, the Norman High School team quietly knelt, similar to how many teams have protested against police brutality and racism recently. Apparently, Rowan was not very happy about this gesture. The still-live microphone caught him saying, “I hope Norman gets their ass kicked.” But that wasn’t all. After saying, “[expletive] them. I hope they lose,” he called the team the N-word. And the N-word here isn’t “nice.”

Again, Rowan was saying this about a high school girls’ basketball team, one that was quietly kneeling on the basketball court. It wasn’t as if they were kneeling in Rowan’s dinner or on his head.

When the recording of his statements got beyond the booth, Rowan understandably received a backlash. And Rowan in response issued an apology, well sort of an apology. His statement said that he “made inappropriate and racist comments believing that the microphone was off.” So was Rowan sorry for making the comments or sorry that the comments went public?

The statement also pointed out that he’s a “family man” and “married.” Of course, being a man and having a family doesn’t mean that you won’t use racial slurs or have racist thoughts. It’s not as if a minister proclaims during a wedding, “I now pronounce you not a racist,” or an obstetrician delivers your baby and says, “congratulations, it’s a certificate that you are not racist.”

But what’s even more interesting from a medical standpoint was Rowan mentioning Type 1 Diabetes. Rowan said, “I will state that I suffer Type 1 Diabetes and during the game my sugar was spiking. While not excusing my remarks it is not unusual when my sugar spikes that I become disoriented and often say things that are not appropriate as well as hurtful. I do not believe that I would have made such horrible statements absent my sugar spiking.”

The following tweet included a copy of Rowan’s statement:

Now Type 1 diabetes is a serious medical condition. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes, it results from when your pancreas can’t make enough insulin. Insulin is a pretty darn important hormone. Normally, after your eat, your body will break down the food into different nutrients like sugar. Your blood transports then transports these nutrients to the various cells in your body. These cells rely on sugar for fuel. But your cells are like the social media app Clubhouse, they don’t allow the sugar in your blood to just come in uninvited. Insulin serves as the inviter, helping usher the sugar into your cells. Without enough insulin to bring the sugar into your cells, the sugar just keeps accumulating your blood, pushing blood sugar levels higher and higher. High levels of sugar in your blood can end up causing damage throughout your body.

When your cells are starved of sugar, another bad thing can happen: they will turn to fat in your body for fuel. All of these keto diets may make the concept of your cells burning your fat sound great. But in the case of diabetes, it isn’t. Using fat instead of glucose for fuel produces ketones as a byproduct, which can lead to your blood becoming too acidic, especially in those who don’t have enough properly functioning insulin to control ketone levels. When this progresses to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), it’s a medical emergency and potentially life-threatening.

That’s why controlling your blood sugar levels is so important in managing diabetes. Therefore, if your sugar has been spiking to the point that you are becoming disoriented, see your doctor as soon as you can. Plus, being disoriented and basketball game announcing usually don’t go together very well.

As described by the following KOCO 5 News segment, sponsors have since been severing ties with Rowan and his broadcasting company, OSPN Live:

Medical conditions like type 1 diabetes can disrupt your life in a number of different ways and bring many additional challenges. It is important for everyone to be sensitive to such things. However, it also important to know what can and cannot be attributed to various medical conditions. When you feel the need to use a racial slur against a high school girls basketball team and hope they lose just because they are quietly exercising their right to protest against injustice, you’ve got another problem that’s not diabetes.

I am a writer, journalist, professor, systems modeler, computational and digital health expert, avocado-eater, and entrepreneur, not always in that order. Currently, I am