Announcer Caught on Open Mic Using Racial Slur at Basketball Game


A sports announcer at an Oklahoma high school basketball game uttered a racial slur into a live microphone as players on the court knelt during the national anthem on Thursday night, prompting widespread outrage and condemnation.

In a video clip that quickly went viral, the announcer could be heard cursing as he saw the players of the Norman High School girls’ basketball team kneel just before the start of a quarterfinal state tournament game against Midwest City.

“They’re kneeling?” he says, apparently not realizing that he and the rest of the broadcast team could still be heard. Then he utters the racial slur, adding, “I hope they lose.”


“They’re going to kneel like that?” he continues. “Hell, no.”

Frankie Parks, a teacher at Norman High School and the team coach, posted a video clip on Twitter on Friday morning, condemning the announcer’s comments, which infuriated local leaders around Norman, a city of 123,000 people about 20 miles south of Oklahoma City.

“Tell us how you really feel?” Mr. Parks wrote. “This is why they kneel.”

The announcer, Matt Rowan, apologized in a statement to The Frontier, a nonprofit news organization that covers Oklahoma. The organization described Mr. Rowan as the owner of a streaming service that broadcast the game.

The website for Mr. Rowan’s company, OSPN, appeared to have been taken down as of Saturday morning. Mr. Rowan did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.


In his statement, Mr. Rowan, who described himself as a married father of two children who goes to a Baptist church, said he had Type 1 diabetes.

“I have not only embarrassed and disappointed myself, I have embarrassed and disappointed my family and my friends,” he said. “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.”


Mr. Rowan said that had it not been for his sugar spiking, “I do not believe that I would have made such horrible statements.”

He added that he could not explain why he made the comments.

“This is something for which I must take responsibility,” Mr. Rowan said. “I wholeheartedly accept responsibility for my words and actions.”


The remarks on Thursday drew sharp rebukes and fury from the mayor of Norman and the Police Department, as well as N.F.L. players like Kenny Stills and Gerald McCoy, who posted a picture on Twitter of the high school players kneeling in support.

“These young women are tough,” Sgt. Neelon Greenwood of the Norman Police Department said in a statement. “They are fighters. The comments made against them will add fuel to their fire.”

The National Federation of State High School Associations’s partner network, which streams high school sports games, and the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, which runs the tournament, said they were investigating.

In paired statements, both organizations said the broadcast team would not be used during the rest of the tournament.

The network said it had “immediately cut ties with the third-party production crew that was involved.”


“We apologize for and are sickened by the comments,” the network said. “The thoughts expressed in no way represent our network, and we are outraged that they found their way into the production.”

The Norman High School girls’ basketball team, who are undefeated, won the game 53-40.

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