An Oklahoma high school basketball announcer is blaming diabetes for his use of the N-word to describe a girls basketball team that kneeled during the national anthem.
Matt Rowan, 44, was announcing the game between Norman and Midwest City and actually dropped the racial slur twice as the Star-Spangled Banner played over the loudspeaker. It was the Norman team that kneeled.
“They’re kneeling? F—–g N—–s, I hope Norman gets their ass kicked. F–k them. I hope they lose. They’re gonna kneel like that?” he said in a livestream obtained by TMZ Sports.
After receiving intense and well-deserved blowback on social-media, Rowan was reached by TMZ and tried to explain his horrific remarks.
“I will state that I suffer Type 1 diabetes and during the game, my sugar was spiking,” he said. “… 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 also offered an apology.
“I’m absolutely speechless for my rhetoric,” he told TMZ. “I want to offer my deepest apologies to these girls because I hurt them.”
“I want to take ownership of my actions,” he added. “Never my intention to hurt anyone. I am sickened by what I said. I am so sorry for what I said.”
There is no doubt that spiked blood sugar can bring out the worst in a person, particularly an individual with Type I diabetes. But that isn’t a legitimate excuses for using that word. It goes deeper than that.
“Tell us how you really feel!! THIS IS WHY THEY KNEEL!!!,” Norman coach Frankie Parks tweeted.
Norman Public School superintendent Nick Migliorino released a statement on Facebook in response to the incident.
“We condemn and will not tolerate the disgusting words and attitudes of these announcers,” Migliorino wrote. “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.”
Both Buffalo Bills wide receiver and Dallas Cowboys defensive end Gerald McCoy also tweeted about the incident. “See why we do it!?! They still think it’s about the flag,” McCoy wrote.
The National Federation of State High School Network, which produced the livestream, said it will no longer use Rowan’s broadcast crew.
“The NFHS Network firmly condemns racism, hate and discrimination, and there is no room for this in high school sports or anywhere,” the organization said in a statement.