OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Hundreds of comments are pouring onto social media Friday after a racist remark was caught on a hot mic during the National Anthem at a state quarter-final basketball game between Norman and Midwest City.
The Norman players were kneeling during the anthem when the comment was made.
“F****** n****** could be heard on the announcer’s mic. Lots of people were outraged by the comments.
“From anger, it just saddens me, that here we are in this day and age and racism still exists,” Khari Manuel, who follows high school sports, said.
“I was just deeply angered, outraged. I was really lost of words, I was just shocked,” Bryatt Vann, a Norman team parent, said.
Vann says the team chose to kneel together.
“All the girls did their research on kneeling and what it meant and things of that nature, and they all came to an agreement to do this,” he said.
The superintendent of Norman Public Schools released a statement that reads:
“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.
Dr. Nick Migliorino
Mid-Del Schools also released a statement that reads in part, “Language of this kind is an affront to the lessons we try to teach our students and the kind of world in which we all want to live.”
“I think they should be fired on the spot,” Vann said.
Norman Mayor Breea Clark is also weighing in.
“I just couldn’t believe it, I’m worried about the chilling effect of our children of color who want to play in sports now,” she said.
OSSAA contracts with the National Federation of State High School Association to broadcast games.
They released these statements:
We apologize for and are sickened by the comments made last night at the start of our broadcast of the OSSAA girls basketball game between Norman High School and Midwest City High School. The thoughts expressed in no way represent our network, and we are outraged that they found their way into the production. We are aggressively investigating the incident and have immediately cut ties with the third-party production crew that was involved.
The NFHS Network firmly condemns racism, hate and discrimination.
We also deeply apologize to the students, their families, and the entire community for having such ignorant and hurtful comments expressed during the broadcast.
As an organization dedicated to empowering students and young people through high school sports and athletic programs and making their achievements accessible to all in their communities and beyond, this incident is a direct violation of our mission as a company.
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF HIGH SCHOOL (NFHS) NETWORK
The OSSAA was made aware that some very offensive, inappropriate comments were made during the NFHS livestream broadcast of the quarter final state tournament basketball game between the Norman High School and Midwest City girls teams at Sapulpa High School Thursday night.
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 never 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.
DAVID JACKSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
OKLAHOMA SECONDARY SCHOOL ACTIVITIES ASSOCIATION
According to Dylan Goforth with The Frontier, a man named Matt Rowan admitted to making the comments, saying in a statement that reads in part:
“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.”
He says he apologizes to everyone involved.
The Norman Police Department (NPD) and its Diversity and Equity Committee released the following statement:
You cannot maneuver through life without going through difficult times. This is one of those times where the difficult conversation will be had with our young children, yet again. This is the time where we began to ask the question on when will this hate change. This is the time where all of the hard work and effort that occurs daily trying to make things right seem to be for nothing.
I wear many hats in this community that I love dearly. I am a School Resource Officer, Police Officer, and the chair of Norman Police Department’s Diversity and Equity Committee. The recent event that took place on Thursday that was targeted toward Norman High School (NHS) student athletes is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. Racism and hate are a sickness that serve only to try to divide us. The climb up the hill to reach unity and equality is never ending but we will continue to climb.
These young women are tough. They are fighters. The comments made against them will add fuel to their fire. Fuel to their fire not only during this basketball state tournament, but also as they grow up and become accomplished women in our society. As we figure out ways to join in unity for our future, we cannot forget what is inked in our past.
Norman High Lady Tigers, we stand behind your right to freedom of expression. As we struggle from being upset at the slandering words used, let this be a time where our voices come together in solidarity. The table has been set and it is time for us to come together and come up with innovative ideas to help carve the future. Fight on, NHS Tigers!”
SERGEANT NEELON GREENWOOD,
DIVERSITY AND EQUITY COMMITTE CO-CHAIR AND SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER
Norman Public Schools says it will use Sports Talk Media to stream the rest of the tournament, stating they can “respectfully support our athletes.”
Late this afternoon, the Norman High School Girls Basketball team played again, and knelt again during the National Anthem. This time, they were joined by their opponents, Tulsa Union in kneeling.
Norman won the game and will now head to State.
Dr. Robert Romines, Moore Public Schools’ Superintendent, announced in a statement issued Friday evening that the school district is terminating its existing contract with the NFHS Network immediately. The full statement is as follows:
I believe it is important to share with you that we, Moore Public Schools, are terminating our existing contract with NFHS Network immediately. We will select a different vendor to meet our athletic event streaming services needs. We condemn the racist and vile comments made by their announcers last night prior to the Oklahoma 6A Basketball Tournament girls’ game of Norman and Midwest City. Hate speech has no place in our schools and society. We will not sit idly by and “hope change occurs” – we have the ability to make change happen.
While this did not occur at one of our events and with our student-athletes (this time), it could have. All children are our responsibility and what we do and say today will determine our world tomorrow. We stand in solidarity with Norman Public Schools and Mid-Del Public Schools, with all persons of color, and fully support our students’ right to freedom of expression. We all must become better, more educated, and more kind.
Coaches and Advisers: Please share this information with your students and their parents. We want to ensure all know that we are united against racism, inequalities, and injustices.
Many thanks to you all for your support of our students, each other, and our families.
DR. ROBERT ROMINES, MOORE PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT
Suggest a Correction