The Norman High School girls basketball team said they are sticking together in the wake of a sports announcer calling them the N-word for kneeling during the national anthem.
Several players on the Norman, Oklahoma, team gathered for a press conference on Monday with their parents and attorneys Benjamin Crump and Mike Laux.
“I’ll always stand in support of my team,” Ansley Orrell said. “I just want this to be a lesson to the rest of the world that there’s no place for racism.”
During Thursday’s game against Midwest City High School, announcer Matt Rowan used a racial slur after asking if the players on Norman’s team were kneeling.
“I hope Norman gets their a– kicked,” Rowan said in a video of the game. “F—— n——.”
Rowan said in a statement that he thought his microphone was off. He then apologized for his comments, while also blaming his racist language on his health issues.
“I will state that I suffer Type 1 Diabetes and during the game my sugar was spiking. 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 said. “I do not believe that I would have made such horrible statements absent my sugar spiking.”
The announcer went on to say that he is not racist.
Norman player Millie Roberts said that choosing to kneel during the national anthem was a “team decision.”
“We all just decided to come as a team and kneel together because we wanted to bring attention and awareness to the fact that racism is still alive and well today,” teammate Chantae Embry said at the press conference.
Embry said hearing Rowan’s remarks was “very heartbreaking.”
Myka Perry said that people do not have to agree with the team’s decision to kneel “but they do have to respect it.” Zya Vann said she wants Rowan to be held accountable for what he said.
Rowan was working with another announcer during the game. In his statement, Rowan said his colleague did not use a racial slur.
The National Federation of High School (NFHS) Network, which streams high school sports, said that it had hired the broadcast team for Norman’s game and had “cut ties with the third-party production crew that was involved.”
The network said in a statement that it was “aggressively investigating” the incident.
“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 network said. “The thoughts expressed in no way represent our network, and we are outraged that they found their way into the production.”
Norman Public Schools Superintendent Nick Migliorino said that the district would no longer be using NFHS Network to stream games and would switch to SportsTalk Media.”
Attorneys Crump and Laux said they are not seeking any legal action against the announcer right now and praised the team for pushing through and winning the state championship.
“You all had this adversity. And you all kept going, and you won the state tournament,” Crump said.