NLL team apol­o­gizes for racially in­sen­si­tive re­marks

Montreal Gazette - - SPORTS -

In-game an­nouncer Shawny Hill and the Philadel­phia Wings apol­o­gized on Sun­day after he made racially in­sen­si­tive re­marks about Ge­or­gia Swarm for­ward Lyle Thomp­son. Hill called for Thomp­son’s pony­tail to be cut dur­ing Ge­or­gia’s 13-11 Na­tional Lacrosse League win at Philadel­phia’s Wells Fargo Cen­ter on Satur­day night. Thomp­son, from Onondaga Na­tion, N.Y., and his brothers Jerome and Miles all play for the Swarm and wear braided pony­tails in trib­ute to their First Na­tions her­itage. “2019 and the @NLLwings arena an­nouncer say­ing ‘Let’s snip the pony­tail’ to the whole arena and fans say­ing they’re go­ing to scalp me,” tweeted Lyle Thomp­son on Satur­day night. Thomp­son added in a quotetweet: “I know Philly takes pride in their ruth­less fans but I didn’t know it was like that lol ... now I know. just haven’t heard stuff like this since (high school)” Jeremy Thomp­son, the el­dest of the Thomp­son brothers, plays for the Saskatchewan Rush and also wears a braid. Ad­min­is­tra­tors at res­i­den­tial schools in Canada and the U.S. would cut the hair of Indige­nous chil­dren short in one of many steps de­signed to sep­a­rate the kids from their her­itage, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. Many First Na­tions peo­ple in Canada and the U.S. wear their hair long in mem­ory of those chil­dren and to pre­serve Indige­nous cul­ture. “I am deeply sorry for my in­sen­si­tive state­ments dur­ing last night’s game,” Hill said in the state­ment. “My words were poorly cho­sen and were not in­tended as racially mo­ti­vated. I un­der­stand the pro­found hurt my words have caused. I of­fer my sin­cere apol­ogy. “My words do not re­flect my per­sonal be­liefs, but rep­re­sent a lack of knowl­edge on her­itage and his­tory. I am in the process of reach­ing out to speak di­rectly to the Thomp­son brothers in hopes of pro­vid­ing a di­rect apol­ogy.” The Onondaga are part of the Hau­denosaunee Con­fed­er­acy, known by the French as the Iro­quois and by the English as the Six Na­tions. The Hau­denosaunee cre­ated the sport of lacrosse, be­liev­ing it has both phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual heal­ing prop­er­ties. First Na­tions play­ers rep­re­sent a large seg­ment of the com­peti­tors in the NLL and com­pete in­ter­na­tion­ally as the Iro­quois Na­tion­als. “The Philadel­phia Wings are deeply apolo­getic for the in­sen­si­tive words that were cho­sen by our in-arena host dur­ing last night’s game against the Ge­or­gia Swarm,” said a state­ment from the team. “We im­me­di­ately ad­dressed this in­ad­ver­tent yet of­fen­sive oc­cur­rence and are tak­ing the sit­u­a­tion very se­ri­ously. The Wings do not tol­er­ate dis­crim­i­na­tion of any sort and are tak­ing swift dis­ci­plinary and ed­u­ca­tional mea­sures to en­sure that this does not hap­pen again.” Sev­eral non-Indige­nous NLL play­ers tweeted their sup­port of Lyle Thomp­son. “This is wrong. Love you, brother,” said Paul Ra­bil, a highly dec­o­rated player who last played in the NLL for Philadel­phia in 2013. “Dis­grace­ful,” said Tom Schreiber, a for­ward with the Toronto Rock.

MIKE GROLL/AP/FILES

Lyle Thomp­son was taken aback by re­marks he heard a Philadel­phia Wings an­nouncer make Satur­day.

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