A Texas high school football radio broadcaster has been fired amid a firestorm of controversy over comments he made about an opposing school’s football team and one particular cheerleader.
As reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Cleburne’s football game against Arlington Seguin was marred by commentary from a radio announcer calling the game for Cleburne’s JacketRadio.com. Throughout Seguin’s 30-16 victory against the Yellow Jackets, one of the JacketRadio.com commenters referred to Seguin’s team, nicknamed the Cougars, as the “Cougroes.” The same commentator also berated a Seguin cheerleader for being overweight.
The “Cougroes” comment is an apparent amalgamation between Cougars and a racially insensitive term, a reference to Seguin’s large African American student population, per the Star-Telegram, Seguin’s student body is 37.5 percent African-American and 14 percent white while Cleburne’s is 49 percent white and 3.4 percent African-American.
The broadcaster, whom the Star-Telegram identified as Mark Banton, also offered up the following insensitive joke about one particular Seguin cheerleader:
“Can we talk about that Seguin cheerleader …? What do you think [inaudible] should do with that? … Jenny Craig has a lot to do — a lot of work to do with her.”
The Cleburne Independent School District offered a statement to the media stipulating that it does not condone the comments and has been investigating them, yet Banton was listed as a commentator on other athletic events this week, including a Thursday night volleyball game. The audio archive of past sporting events did not include the Seguin game.
Asked multiple times by the Star-Telegram about comments that he allegedly gave during the game, Banton responded, “I have nothing to say.”
Arlington officials moved quickly to alert Cleburne school officials about the comments and then to pointedly note they had not received an apology from Cleburne ISD, just a recognition that the two broadcasters are not employees of the school district.
“We have contacted the Cleburne ISD,” Arlington ISD spokesperson Johnston said in a statement to the Star-Telegram. “While we did not receive an apology, we were told that the individuals on the broadcast were not CISD employees and that the administration is involved and the situation will be addressed. … We do not condone such boorish behavior, and we are confident CISD would not condone such broadcasts in their name.”
On Friday morning, Arlington’s initial actions and Cleburne’s subsequent investigation apparently proved enough to end Banton’s run behind the microphone, without specifying his name, KRLD news radio reporter Andrew Greenstein reported that the commentator responsible for the racially insensitive remarks will not return to cover any additional Cleburne events. The Star-Telegram confirmed that Banton was no longer affiliated with JacketRadio.com and would not be in the booth for the team’s next game Friday night.