TULSA, Okla. – The Norman High School girl’s basketball team went on to win the Oklahoma State basketball Championship after racist language was directed at them during the National Anthem of their quarterfinal game.
As the girls kneeled ahead of their game on Thursday, March 11 against Midwest City High School, the broadcaster was caught on a hot mic going on a racist rant.
The girls found out about the rant after they won the game 53-40.
The announcer using the racist language was Matt Rowan who owns OSPN, the sports streaming platform that was broadcasting Norman’s game.
“I made inappropriate and racist comments believing that the microphone was off; however, let me state immediately that is no excuse such comments should have never been uttered,” Rowan said in a statement.
Their opponent in the semi-final Union High School kneeled with them. They met the Bixby High School team in the championship, and they did not kneel.
“It was their option. They didn’t have to if they didn’t want to. We still knelt and we still stood up for what we believed in,” Norman sophomore team member Aaliyah Henderson said.
While the Norman High School girl’s basketball team knelt during the Anthem ahead of the championship game, they wore t-shirts that said “THIS IS WHY WE KNEEL” on them.
“That shirt is going to forever mean something and when people ask, I’m going to explain it just the way how it went,” Norman senior captain Kelbie Washington said.
The team has experienced an outpouring of support. Even the Women’s National Basketball Player’s Association issued a statement.
“I feel like I’m always going to remember this. The girls are always going to remember this moment and not even just the negative part about it, but also the positive things that happened. It made an impact on a lot of people,” Washington said.
The Lady Tigers won the OSSAA Class 6A Girls Basketball Tournament on Saturday with a final score of 48-37 over Bixby.
“We were here just to win state. We weren’t here to have all the negative comments. We were just here just to defend our title,” Washington said.
The girls are now back-to-back state champions. They won the tournament in 2019. Due to COVID there was no state tournament in 2020.