An Oklahoma high school game announcer came under fire for saying that the names of girls on a visiting basketball team are "pretty disgusting."
The Crooked Oak High School team's "names are pretty disgusting, but I'm going to try to call 'em out," the announcer said in introducing players on the home team's court at Newkirk High School in Newkirk, about 120 miles north of Oklahoma City.
The announcer was removed from the game at halftime.
A YouTube video of the incident has been viewed more than 53,000 times since it was posted Friday.
Some critics accused the announcer of being racist, noting that a majority of the players on the Crooked Oak team are minorities.
One commenter on Facebook said that even if the announcer meant that the girls' names were "difficult" he "is 'unfortunately' racist ... Further, any professional in his shoes would rehearse the names ahead of time or ask for a pronunciation guide."
"That’s racism, plain and simple," another said on Facebook. "It doesn’t take a genius to see that. How would the superintendent feel if his kid’s name was called disgusting?"
Newkirk Public Schools Superintendent Brady Barnes apologized in a statement Saturday, saying the announcer's comment was "unfortunate and inappropriate," and that it marked the first time "something like this" has occurred in the man's 20-year career.A
"To the Newkirk and Crooked Oak communities at large, I would like to say that this unfortunate comment does not represent the Newkirk Public Schools or its beliefs," Barnes said. "We sincerely apologize for any pain or affront our announcer’s comment has caused Crooked Oak players, parents, patrons, and school employees."
Barnes said he made the decision to replace the announcer during halftime of the girl's basketball game. He also said he would not be able to speak on personnel actions that may be taken against the announcer.
Crooked Oak High School Principal Laura Knight in a statement on Facebook on Saturday called the announcer's remark, which she said she heard in person, "shocking.”
"The mama bear was coming out in me! I love these kids with my whole heart," she wrote. "But I say this often and will say it here. Always give the appropriate people a chance to handle things."
Knight said that Newkirk replaced the announcer at halftime "with a person that went to lengths to ensure that everything else was announced correctly" and sought her out to apologize.
"Their fans, administration, and coaches treated us well," Knight wrote. "I know that does not take away the hurt, but please know that they took care of it, it was not ignored."
She also praised the girls' response to the incident.
She ended her statement by saying: "I CANNOT SAY THIS NEXT PART ENOUGH: Those girls handled it beautifully and rose above! Please, please do not let social media bring us down, we are better than that."
Lorna Pollard, a parent from Crooked Oak who uploaded the now-viral video, said she did not believe "a quiet apology is suitable for a public humiliation."
"Our administration was not who was disrespected...it was these girls!” she wrote in a Facebook post Sunday. “I feel that Newkirk officials should have made the apology to the girls and their parents and supporters that had traveled almost 2 hours to be at the game over the same speakers that the hurtful remark was made on.”
"Whether this comment was racist or not... intentional or not the point is it was hurtful to children and it is not OK," Pollard wrote.
Reached Tuesday, the Newkirk schools superintendent said he could not comment on the matter further.