A racial slur allegation at a recent Norfolk High School basketball game has sparked outrage and calls for action from both sides of the court.
Teammates, coaches and fans from Omaha Northwest High School reported someone in Norfolk High’s student section called one of their players the n-word at Friday’s girls basketball game.
Lexi Drummond, a player from Omaha Northwest, said she and her teammates heard the comment as the team left the court as the game ended. The slur came from a group of boys, she said.
“The (Norfolk) cheerleaders heard it and tried to come to apologize,” Drummond said. “But in the locker room, the team was in tears and at a loss for words. I’m proud of how we handled ourselves. When that happens, people are looking for a reaction — it was taking everything in our team not to react.”
Later that night and the next morning, parents and fans took to social media to protest the incident. Some visitors to the game made public posts about what they heard from Omaha Northwest players.
One parent of a former Omaha Northwest student said, “As a former Husky mom, this type of behavior will take away from the equality of your child’s future. So sad to see or hear this is still going on.”
Visitors and fans from Norfolk also spoke out against what happened at the game.
One Norfolk resident posted, “I sincerely hope actions are taken against those who displayed any racist behaviors or comments. As someone who lives in Norfolk, this was disturbing for me to hear about.”
Norfolk Public Schools issued a response to the incident on Monday. Administrators are investigating and are “deeply apologetic for any inappropriate comments or actions that may have occurred.”
“Norfolk Public Schools does not condone and will not tolerate acts of racism or discrimination,” the statement said.
Concerns about the officiating have been reported to the Nebraska Schools Activities Association and the Heartland Athletic Conference. The game was tied at 33 after three quarters before Norfolk outscored Omaha Northwest 21-5 in the fourth quarter. The Panthers made 14 of 18 free throws during a stretch that turned a 40-35 lead into the game’s final score of 54-38.
Drummond said the concerns focused on one game referee, who allegedly officiated the game unfairly. She said there was a significant disparity between the number of fouls called between the two teams.
“After a game like that, and then you walk into a locker room and that's what you hear ... it's heartbreaking,” Drummond said. “We are so far along in this, and after the Black Lives Matter protests and everything like that, you would think people would learn and try to be more considerate. It's 2021 and we are still having to deal with this on a daily basis.”
Taylor Markussen, a sophomore at Omaha Northwest, said she and her teammates are used to racism, not just at games, but also in school.
“We just have to use this to motivate us to push harder and we have to get used to it,” she said. “Because that's what's going to happen to us.”