An Oklahoma high school basketball announcer was caught on a hot mic using the N-word to refer to team that took a knee during the national anthem.
The announcer uttered the racial slur twice as the Star-Spangled Banner played over a loudspeaker before the Norman HS girls team faced off against Midwest City in a playoff game, according to TMZ Sports, which obtained the livestream.
“They’re kneeling? F***ing n*****s. I hope Norman gets their ass kicked. F*** them. I hope they lose. They’re gonna kneel like that?,” the announcer said as the entire Norman squad took a knee.
After about 30 seconds, the unidentified announcer muttered something indistinguishable before once again using the highly offensive slur, accentuated with profanity, to refer to the student athletes.
Blowback from the incident was swift, as everyone from school officials to professional athletes castigated the hateful broadcaster, and supported the girls.
“We condemn and will not tolerate the disgusting words and attitudes of these announcers,” Norman Public School Superintendent Dr. Nick Migliorino wrote in a statement on Facebook.
“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.”
“Tell us how you really feel!! THIS IS WHY THEY KNEEL!!!,” Norman Coach Frankie Parks tweeted, implying the incident illustrates why athletes have been inspired to protest racist injustice by refusing to stand for the stars and stripes.
The message was retweeted by Kenny Stills, a Bills wide receiver who played for the Oklahoma Sooners, and also takes a knee during the anthem. In a separate message about the incident, Stills wrote “Amerikkka.”
“See why we do it!?! They still think it’s about the flag,” tweeted Cowboys defensive end Gerald McCoy.
The National Federation of State High School Network, which produced the livestream, said it is investigating.
“The NFHS Network firmly condemns racism, hate and discrimination, and there is no room for this in high school sports or anywhere,” the organization posted Friday.
The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, which contracted the announcers for the game, said the broadcast crew has been pulled from the rest of the Oklahoma 6A basketball tournament, according to TMZ Sports.
Norman won the game, 53-40.
In 2016, former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the anthem to protest social and racial injustice in the US.
Many athletes have since followed suit.