Racially-charged com­ments draw apol­ogy

In­sen­si­tive re­marks were ‘poorly cho­sen,’ an­nouncer says af­ter hair-cut­ting com­ment in game

The Province - - SPORTS -

PHILADEL­PHIA — 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 quote-tweet: “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 United States 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. now 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,” said Hill in a state­ment is­sued Sun­day. “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 an of­fi­cial 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.

“This is dis­grace­ful and needs to be ad­dressed promptly. You are a won­der­ful am­bas­sador for the game. Don’t let any­one try to bring you down,” said for­mer NLL com­mis­sioner Ge­orge Daniel.

Lyle Thomp­son did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment by The Cana­dian Press.

— THE CANA­DIAN PRESS/AP FILES

Sev­eral fel­low NLL play­ers have spo­ken up in sup­port of Lyle Thomp­son, seen here in 2015, af­ter Thomp­son was the tar­get of racially in­sen­si­tive re­marks from an an­nouncer dur­ing a game in Philadel­phia.

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