University at Albany lacrosse player Lyle Thompson practices on April 16, 2015, in Albany, N.Y. 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 pony-tail to be cut over during Georgia’s 13-11 win at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Mike Groll 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 pony-tail 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 pony-tails in tribute to their Indigenous heritage.
"2019 and the @NLLwings arena announcer saying ‘let’s snip the pony tail’ 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 in one of many steps designed to separate the kids from their heritage, families and communities. Many First Nations people in Canada and the United States 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 and 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."
Swarm transition player Brendan Bomberry, who is from Six Nations, Ont., the largest reserve in Canada, also tweeted his anger at the comments made by Hill.
"Great game and atmosphere @NLLwings but it was overshadowed by your in game announcer’s comments towards my teammates, ‘let’s snip the braid’ was disgusting and a reality for my ancestors when they were forced into Christian residential schools," said Bomberry.
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 also tweeted their support for 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. […]
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