A high school sports announcer came under fire for racist comments about a girls’ basketball team while they kneeled during the national anthem. On Friday, the announcer blamed his actions on his diabetes.
Matt Rowan made the remarks Thursday during a game between Norman High School and Midwest City in the Oklahoma 6A State Basketball Tournament. In a replay of the broadcast, broadcasters heard viewers that the broadcast would return after the national anthem, but the microphones were never turned off while the anthem was being played.
When Norman High girls knelt, the broadcaster immediately criticized Rowan, saying, “I hope Norman gets a kick in the ass.”
I hope they lose, “he said.” … if they kneel like that, damn no. ”
Then he called the students the N word. The live broadcast video was recorded and shared online.
In a press release released on Friday, Rowan said he “regrettably made some irreversible statements,” and blamed an increase in blood sugar for his comments.
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“During the Norman High School girls’ basketball game against Midwest City, I made inappropriate and racist comments that believed the microphone was off. Let me immediately state, however, that this is not an excuse that such comments should have been made” , he said.
“I will say that I have type 1 diabetes and that my sugar rose sharply during the game. While I do not apologize for my remarks, it is not uncommon for my sugar to rise. He continued.” I don’t think so. that I would have made such terrible statements without my sugar tip. ”
Rowan has not returned CBS News’ request for comment.
CBS News subsidiary KWTV
Fred Henderson, whose daughter plays for the Norman team, told CBS partner KWTV that Rowan’s comments were “just a sign of the times” and that the comments profoundly influenced his daughter.
“She doesn’t take it very well. Me and my wife are just trying to tell her to hold your head up, just pray and try to concentrate,” he said.
The Norman community posted a video on Friday called “#ThisIsWhyWeKneel”. In it, teachers, school staff and parishioners, many of whom are clearly emotional, tell the girls affected by the comments that they are proud of them and join them in the fight against racism and bigotry.
#ThisIsWhyWeKneel by David Powell on YouTube
“I just want to remind you that there is no room for hate in this world, and I’m so sorry to have to go through this and be on the other end of those hateful words,” said art teacher Tauri Sims. “But I want you to know that you have 100% support from your school, from your teachers at your school, from your community. We love you, we are proud of you. Just keep doing what you do because You are doing a wonderful job. ”
Norman High School Varsity Football Defensive Line Coach said on the video that “Obviously, it wasn’t about respecting the national anthem or Bozo wouldn’t have been talking about it all along.”
“Something else bothers him, which is disgusting,” he said. “The best you can do is win all of the dang enchilada that I know you can and I think you will.”
Many with type 1 diabetes were quick to comment on Rowan’s testimony on Twitter, saying they were “embarrassed and offended” that someone was using the disease as an excuse for racist behavior.
My 17 year old was diagnosed when I was 7 years old. Despite serious losses and high scores, he never made a racist comment in front of me. BECAUSE I RAISED HIM NOT TO BE A RACIST. I’m so upset and angry right now.
– Author Missy Jane * likes her stories steaming * 🐈📚 (@msmissyjane) March 13, 2021
Rowan, who says he is a former youth pastor, insisted in the press release that he was not racist and “couldn’t explain” why he made the comments.
The racist remarks caused many of those associated with Rowan and his company to cut ties.
Norman Public Schools’ superintendent Nick Migliorino said in a statement that the school system was “outraged” that the comments were “directed at everyone and our students in particular”. He said the school system will no longer use Rowan’s company to stream the tournament live.
“We fully support our students’ right to freedom of expression and are immediately focused on helping these girls and their coaches and families, especially our black students and coaching staff,” said Migliorino. “It is tragic that the hard work and skill of this team is overshadowed by the hideous, malicious words of these people.”
We support our students. # Thisiswhywekneel #FIGHTON pic.twitter.com/CXcXm1QhVu
– Norman High Tigers (@gonormantigers) March 12, 2021
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) issued a statement saying the comments made her “sick” and severed ties with the “third party production team” involved. Although Rowan’s production company OSPN Live was not specifically named, the company has apparently been removed from the NFHS website.
“The thoughts that are not expressed in any way represent our network and we are outraged that they found their way into production. We are aggressively investigating the incident and immediately disconnected from the third-party production team involved. ”
The network said it “strongly condemns racism, hatred and discrimination” and apologized to students and others affected by the comments.
“As an organization dedicated to empowering students and youth through college sports and sports programs and making their services available to everyone in their communities and beyond, this incident is a direct violation of our mission as a company.”
See the attachment for updated information: pic.twitter.com/GpUmlaF3qX
– NFHS Network (@NFHSNetwork) March 12, 2021
Fastenal, previously listed as a sponsor of OSPN Live, tweeted Friday night that it “officially cut ties with Matt Rowan and OSPN Live.”
On Saturday it appeared that the Facebook page and website for OSPN Live had been removed.