The Chicago Cubs are looking into an incident during Tuesday night’s game in which a fan flashed a potentially racist hand sign behind NBC Sports’ Doug Glanville during a live report.
The individual, realizing he was in the background of the shot, gave a peace sign before forming a circle with his left hand. The upside down “OK” is sometimes associated with white supremacy. It’s also how you play the dumb Circle Game where the viewer gets punched if he looks at the gesture.
Cubs president of business operation Crane Kenney offered a strong statement.
“We are currently investigating an incident that occurred during the Cubs’ May 7 broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago while reporter Doug Glanville was on the air. An individual seated behind Mr. Glanville used what appears to be an offensive hand gesture that is associated with racism.
“Such ignorant and repulsive behavior is not tolerated at Wrigley Field. We are reviewing the incident thoroughly because no one should be subjected to this type of offensive behavior.
“Any derogatory conduct should be reported immediately to our ballpark staff. Any individual behaving in this manner will not only be removed from the ballpark, but will be permanently banned from Wrigley Field.”
“I applaud the responsiveness of both the Chicago Cubs organization and NBC Sports in investigating this matter,” Glanville said in a statement. “They have reached out to me and are supportive of my role in the broadcast and continue to have a desire to uphold an inclusive environment at Wrigley Field. They have displayed sensitivity as to how the implications of this would affect me as a person of color.”
There’s no way this one has a happy ending. Either the fan was intentionally inflaming hatred or he’s being unfairly accused of doing so. The Cubs issuing a statement takes away any chance of the controversy going away quietly.
It is impossible at this point to understand his intentions, but that won’t stop people from seeing what they want to see and assuming the worst — or best. At the risk of falling victim to that very thing, let me offer this: what does Occam’s Razor say?
UPDATE: Kenney appeared on 670 The Score today and tipped his hand as to the results of that investigation.
“We reached the conclusion that it’s more likely than not that this person was using that hand signal as a racist way of interfering with everyone’s enjoyment of the game,” Kenney said. “That investigation has almost reached its conclusion. We’ll have more to say about that in a little bit.
“We’ll be taking action as a result.”
Kenney said the team believes the burden of proof is on the fan to prove his intent was not malicious.
“Whether this person is going to ultimately say he intended it, that he was playing the circle game or some other stunt, the judgment to use that in connection with a respected reporter who happens to be African-American doing his job — and we love Doug and he does an amazing job for all of us — that connection … coincidence is not going to fly here,” Kenney said.
UPDATE: The fan won’t be welcomed back, per Theo Epstein.
We probably haven’t heard the last of this one. Count on at least a three-day story here if history is any guide.