In a blatant display of casual racism, an announcer in Oklahoma directed a racial slur towards high school basketball players taking a knee during the national anthem prior to a playoff game.
Here’s the video of the incident (which, as you’d expect, contains explicit language), which took place before Norman’s game with Midwest City.
Hey @NFHSNetwork looks like you forgot to cut the Mic!!! "F****** N******" is the one that really got me!! Tell us how you really feel!! THIS IS WHY THEY KNEEL!!!@Migliorino_Nick @tohara_o @NHS_AthDept @gonormantigers pic.twitter.com/mmWQAecLaF
— Frankie Parks (@CoachFParks) March 12, 2021
Per The Oklahoman, Dr. Nick Migliorino, the superintendent of Norman Public Schools, issued a statement condemning the comments and supporting its student athletes.
“Last night during the Norman High School girls’ basketball game versus Midwest City in the Oklahoma 6A State Basketball Tournament, National Federation of High School (NFHS) Network announcers on a live stream broadcast made racist and hateful comments targeted at our Norman High student athletes. The announcers were contracted by OSSAA for the state tournament.
“We condemn and will not tolerate the disgusting words and attitudes of these announcers. This type of hate speech has no place in our society and we are outraged that it would be directed at any human being, and particularly at our students.
“We fully support our students’ right to freedom of expression and our immediate focus is to support these girls and their coaches and families, particularly our Black students and coaching staff. It is tragic that the hard work and skill of this team is being overshadowed by the vile, malignant words of these individuals. We will do everything in our power to support and uplift our team and everyone affected by this incident.
“Moving forward NPS will rely only on our long-standing, community partner SportsTalk Media to live stream the remainder of the tournament, as we have full confidence in their proven ability to respectfully support our student athletes.”
The NFHS Network, which broadcast the game, also released a statement, apologizing for the comments and vowing that anyone responsible “will have no relationship” with the company.
We have been made aware of the racist and hateful remarks made during a broadcast of the OSSAA Quarterfinals last night. We completely condemn these acts and are investigating the matter and the individuals involved.
See our complete statement attached. pic.twitter.com/c0r0YVhvIC
— NFHS Network (@NFHSNetwork) March 12, 2021
The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) hired the broadcaster in question, and released a statement saying they would investigate and that the broadcast crew “will not be doing any more games for the remainder of our championships.”
“On behalf of the NFHS Network and the OSSAA, we sincerely apologize that this happened at one of our events. While we are currently investigating the incident, this crew will not be doing any more games for the remainder of our championships. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated by anyone representing the NFHS or OSSAA. State tournament playoffs are a special time for our schools, their students and their communities, and anything that is counter-productive to education-based activities will be addressed immediately and appropriately.
“We will make further comments as we finish our investigation.”
Update: The broadcaster in question, Matt Rowan, issued an apology on Twitter, and said that it was him who made these comments, not colleague Scott Sapulpa (who was initially identified by many, including The Oklahoman and was cited here as a result of that). We apologize for the error. Here’s Rowan’s statement, which includes him blaming his blood sugar levels, via Dylan Goforth of ReadFrontier.org:
The announcer who made the racist statements is partially blaming it on low blood sugar. pic.twitter.com/6cTwIZdJZI
— Dylan Goforth (@DGoforth918) March 12, 2021