An announcer of a live broadcast of an Oklahoma girls’ high school basketball game cursed and called out a team with a racial epithet as the players knelt during the national anthem.
The incident occurred Thursday before the Norman High School-Midwest City quarterfinal game in Sapulpa when the Star-Spangled Banner began play. Announcers told their listeners on the NFHS Network broadcast that they would return after a break and then one, apparently unaware that the audio was still live, used an expletive and epithet as the Norman players knelt.
Are they on their knees? Fuck them, ”said one of the men. “I hope Norman gets his ass kicked… Damn blacks.
“Are they going to kneel like this? Hell no “.
The incident was posted on Twitter and widely publicized on Friday. Neither has been identified.
The Oklahoma High School Activities Association and the NFHS Network released statements apologizing for the comments.
“While we are investigating the incident, this team will not play any more games for the remainder of our championships,” said OSSAA Director David Jackson. “This type of behavior will never be tolerated by anyone representing the NFHS or OSSAA.”
NFHS Networks said in a statement that it was “disgusted” and “outraged” by the comments.
“We are aggressively investigating the incident and will ensure that those responsible have no connection with the NFHS network in the future,” according to the statement.
The OSSAA network and NFHS did not return phone calls to the Associated Press on Friday.
Kneeling during the anthem during American sporting events has become a familiar way for athletes to express themselves, often protesting racial or social injustice. Norman High School Superintendent Nick Migliorino said the school district supports the right of students to express themselves freely:
“Last night, during Norman High School’s girls basketball game against Midwest City at the Oklahoma 6A State Basketball Tournament, the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) Network announcers on a live broadcast made racist comments and hate speech directed at our Norman High student athletes. The announcers were hired by OSSAA for the state tournament.
“We condemn and will not tolerate the disgusting words and attitudes of these broadcasters. This type of hate speech has no place in our society and we are outraged that it is directed at any human being, and in particular our students.
“We fully support our students’ right to free speech and our immediate focus is to support these girls and their coaches and families, particularly our black students and training staff. It is tragic that the hard work and skill of this team is overshadowed by the vile and evil words of these individuals. We will do everything in our power to support and uplift our team and all those affected by this incident.
“Going forward, NPS will rely solely on our long-time community partner, SportsTalk Media, to broadcast the remainder of the tournament live, as we have full confidence in their proven ability to respectfully support our student athletes.”
State Public Schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister also released a statement, saying the comments cannot be tolerated.
“The comments made were disgusting and vile,” Hofmeister said. “My heart aches for the young athletes who were subjected to this hateful and disgusting tirade.”
Emily Virgin, minority leader of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives, who led a call to action following the incident, saying: “I am absolutely disgusted by the actions of the announcers who used racist slurs against our Norman High basketball team. They must resign immediately or be fired. Our student athletes should be commended for their bravery, not belittled. Distressing.”
Norman was scheduled to play the Tulsa Union at 4 p.m. Friday in the semifinals in Sapulpa.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism