An announcer hired for a live broadcast of a girls’ high school basketball game in Oklahoma was caught using a racist words and obscenities against players who knelt during the national anthem.
Announcer Matt Rowan, owner and operator of the streaming service ESPN, later admitted using the words and apologised.
The incident happened before the match between Norman High School and Midwest City quarterfinal game.
Kneeling for the national anthem symbolises a protest against racism.
NFL player Colin Kaepernick sparked the movement in 2016 when he knelt during the anthem in protest at police brutality.
Appearing not to realise the stream was still live, Rowan could be heard reacting to some of the players from Norman School to kneel while the Star-Spangled Banner played.
He started by saying I hope they lose. Come on, Midwest City. They’re going to kneel like that. He then went on to use a profanity and a racist slur.
Matt Rowan later blamed his “horrible statements” on his Type 1 diabetes. “While not excusing my remarks, it is not unusual when the sugar spikes that I become disoriented and often say things that are not appropriate as well as hurtful,” he said in a statement.
The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association hired his firm to broadcast the game on the NFHS Network. Also, both organisations apologised and said they were investigating the incident. Moreover, they would not be working again with the broadcast crew.
School Committee’s statement
Dr Nick Migliorino, the superintendent of Norman City’s public schools, condemned “the disgusting words and attitudes of these announcers”. Moreover, they fully supported the players’ right to freedom of expression.
“Tragically, the hard work and skill of this team are being overshadowed by the vile, malignant words of these individuals,” he said.
Norman Mayor Breea Clark said she was “livid and disgusted” by the incident. Moreover, she planned to hold a town hall listening session with the city’s youth to “learn how this incident has impacted them. In addition, she’ll hear directly from kids how we can improve our community going forward.