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Locals react to announcer’s comments

Racist comments from an Oklahoma high school basketball announcer drew widespread condemnation Friday. The announcer, Matt Rowan, made the comments after the Norman girls basketball team kneeled during the national anthem. Here is a look at what Rowan and others had to say about the incident:

Matt Rowan, sports broadcaster and owner of OSPN streaming service

"During the Norman High School girls basketball game against Midwest City, I made inappropriate and racist comments believing that the microphone was off; however, let me state immediately that there is no excuse such comments should have never been uttered.

"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. I do not believe that I would have made such horrible statements absent my sugar spiking.

"While the comments I made would certainly seem to indicate that I am racist, I am not, I have never considered myself to be racist, and in short cannot explain why I made these comments.

"I offer my most sincere apologies for the inappropriate comments made and hope that I can obtain forgiveness. I specifically apologize to the Norman High School girls basketball team, their families, their coaches and their entire school system. Additionally, I offer my apologies to OSSAA, and NFHS network."

Cynthia Allen, City of Norman Chief Diversity and Equity Officer

"As a community, we are united and declare this type of hate speech and acts have no place in our society. Further, I would challenge you to consider these paradigms of thought. ‘Why would he say that with the mic on?’ is not the issue we should question. Instead, we should ask why would he think and say those words? ‘Did you hear about the situation with the Norman High basketball girls?’ Be reminded, the issue is not the team. It is the choice, thought, and action of the announcer. I urge you to keep accountability and focus on the matter."

Norman Legislative Democrats: House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, Rep. Merelyn Bell, Rep. Mary Boren, Rep. Jacob Rosencrants

“The comments made by the announcer were vile and racist. No Oklahoman, let alone a student, deserves to hear that type of insulting language. We stand in solidarity with the Norman High players who were the targets of the slur and applaud their social consciousness and determination. Fight on, and know that you have our support. Moving forward, we would like to see the OSSAA cut ties with the broadcasting group that hired the individual. You don’t get to put our children in such an unhealthy situation and still get paid for it. Additionally, we would like the OSSAA to start providing regular diversity training for school districts that wish to require it for coaches and sports staff. These changes are necessary to ensure this abhorrent behavior never happens again.”

Nick Migliorino, superintendent of Norman Public Schools

“We condemn and will not tolerate the disgusting words and attitudes of these announcers. 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. It is tragic that the hard work and skill of this team is being overshadowed by the vile, malignant words of these individuals. We will do everything in our power to support and uplift our team and everyone affected by this incident.”

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