A public address announcer for Newkirk (Okla.) Public Schools was removed after calling names in the starting lineup for Crooked Oak "disgusting" into his open mic before a Class 3A girls' basketball game.
The announcer, who as of this writing had not been identified in the media, prefaced his introduction of Crooked Oak players by saying, "Now, their names are pretty disgusting, but I'm gonna try to call them out."
Reaction was immediate. "What did he just say?" a spectator can be heard asking. "No, he didn't say that."
As reported by KWTV News 9 in Oklahoma City, parents of the Crooked Oak players couldn't believe what they heard. “He never said, ‘Oh, I am sorry,” Tremekkia White, a Crooked Oak player’s mother, said. “He didn’t say, ‘My apologies, let’s try and get through these names together.’ He just kept going and didn’t miss a stride.”
Crooked Oak players appeared stunned and confused on the court, and some say they played the game in an altered mindset following the pregame controversy. “It made me feel very uncomfortable and I really didn’t want to play,” Crooked Oak player Jaiana Wiggins said.
Crooked Oak won the game and their first district championship in more than two decades.
Newkirk superintendent of schools Brady Barnes released a statement late Saturday morning, which read in part, "While introducing players at Friday night's girls high school basketball game, the District's long-time announcer made an unfortunate and inappropriate personal comment concerning the names of some of the Crooked Oak players. In around 20 years of announcing Newkirk games, this is the first time something like this has occurred."
Barnes further stated that he "sincerely" apologized for "pain or affront our announcer's comment has caused Crooked Oak players, parents, patrons, and school employees."
For some, the posted apology fell short. According to Crooked Oak parents, no one from either school reached out to check on them personally as of Saturday. “I think that our girls deserve an apology,” Lorna Pollard, who has girls on the Crooked Oak team, said. “The school takes them to places and it is their responsibility to make sure they feel safe and that they have their backs when needed.”
Crooked Oak superintendent Brad Richards was at the game, and witnessed the P.A. announcer's pregame preparation. “He had visited with our coach and went over with our coach and practiced the pronunciation of their names,” Richards told The Oklahoman. “He totally botched it.”
As reported by The Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association was made aware of the incident Saturday morning. Crooked Oak’s teams were at Newkirk for Class 3A district games, and while the games were part of the OSSAA postseason, the association does not provide a script for announcers during the district round of playoffs. However, it does ask PA announcers to stay fair and unbiased, assistant director David Glover said.