A high school basketball announcer in Oklahoma is receiving serious backlash this week after he was caught on a live stream using explicit language and calling one team a racial epithet after the players kneeled during the national anthem.
Matt Rowan did not realize his mic was on as the national anthem began to play before the Norman High School-Midwest City quarterfinal game on Thursday. Those listening in on the NFHS Network stream could hear Rowan as he used harsh language and a racial epithet directed at the Norman players that decided to kneel.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
“They’re kneeling? F— them,” Rowan can be heard saying. “I hope Norman gets their ass kicked … F—ing [epithet].”
He continued: “I hope Norman gets their ass kicked. F— them. I hope they lose. C’mon Midwest City. They’re gonna kneel like that? Hell no.”
Rowan, the owner and operator of the streaming service OSPN, issued an apology on Friday, blaming his use of racist language on his blood-sugar levels.
“I will state that I suffer Type 1 Diabetes, and during the game my sugar was spiking,” his statement read. “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. I do not believe that I would have made such horrible statements absent my sugar spiking.”
The Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association and NFHS Network each issued statements apologizing for the comments.
“While we are currently investigating the incident, this crew will not be doing any more games for the remainder of our championships,” OSSAA director David Jackson said. “This kind of behavior will never be tolerated by anyone representing the NFHS or OSSAA.”
Norman High School Superintendent Nick Migliorino said the school district supports the students’ right to freely express themselves.
“We condemn and will not tolerate the disgusting words and attitudes of these announcers,” Migliorno said. “We will do everything in our power to support and uplift our team and everyone affected by this incident.”
He added that the school will be using a different streaming service going forward.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.