A group of Norman High School girls basketball players gave the entire nation a lesson in resiliency this past week when, despite being the target of hateful and racist comments, they went on to become state champions.
The team won the Oklahoma 6A state championship with a perfect 19-0 season Saturday night, even after being thrust into the national spotlight because of the racist words of a broadcaster heard ahead of the team’s quarterfinal game on Thursday.
The insults were hurled at the young ladies because they kneeled for the national anthem before their game, which has become a popular form of peaceful protest by athletes to call attention to inequities and racial injustice. A member of the broadcast company streaming the game didn’t realize his mic was still on, and he hurled profanities and a racial epithet about their protest.
The episode has been widely reported and condemned, as it should be. However, it’s also important to recognize the courage, determination and persistence demonstrated by the Norman players.
These players need to know that the majority of Oklahomans admire their courage and resilience in facing down this hateful rhetoric.
Athletes and sports organizations across the country have come out in support of the Norman athletes. It can’t undo the hurt and harm caused by the incident; however, the solidarity of others shown to the Norman players will hopefully be a source of pride and encouragement.
As the women of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association wrote in their support of the players, “We believe you know this already, but it bears repeating. You will not be defined by anyone’s ignorance or hate. You will rise above, with us by your side. Together, we will use this moment (and many others) as a teaching moment for those who are honest and interested in real engagement and action.”
— Enid News & Eagle