Update: The Philadelphia Wings have removed Shawny Hill as their in-arena announcer. He has also been suspended from announcing any other events at Wells Fargo Center. Full statement from the team here.
The Georgia Swarm and Philadelphia Wings played one another in an innocuous regular season game on Saturday night. The visiting Swarm ended up winning the contest by a 13-11 score. Unfortunately, the game won’t be remembered for the headlines made on the floor, only the ones made off of it.
Following the game, Swarm forward Lyle Thompson addressed some racially insensitive comments made during the contest.
Wings in-house announcer Shawny Hill can be heard on the broadcast saying “Let’s snip the ponytail right here” while Thompson is carrying the ball up the floor.
The National Lacrosse League issued the following statement on Sunday:
“The league and all of our member clubs have a zero tolerance policy for any derogatory on discriminatory statements made. The statements made by the Wings’ in-arena host were inappropriate and the necessary disciplinary action will be taken swiftly,”
Philadelphia also released a statement of their own:
Hill also put out a statement, but the damage was already done – his Twitter post currently has over 140 replies, with almost everyone berating him for what he said.
Native-American and Canadian players do not play for their respective countries, instead, they represent the Iroquois Nationals. The team is in constant contention in international competition, regularly medalling at world championships.
However, the Iroquois team wasn’t able to play in the 2010 FIL World Lacrosse Championships in England. They tried to travel with Haudenosaunee passports, but the government of the United Kingdom denied them entry because of increased security requirements. The UK also denied them visas to enter the country and play in the tournament. The team was relegated to a lower group and forced to forfeit their round-robin games.
The Iroquois Nationals ran into similar problems ahead of this past summer’s tournament. Their trip to Israel was stalled 48 hours because of passport issues. They were, however, allowed into the country and made it to the tournament on the day of their first game.
Lyle was the star for the Iroquois squad that played in this past summer’s FIL World Lacrosse Championship.
The Thompsons are undoubtedly the most recognizable family in lacrosse currently, due in part to their signature braids. Lyle and Miles attended the University of Albany and were both named the winners of the Tewaarton Award – the NCAA Player of the Year – in 2014 after leading the nation with 128 and 119 points, respectively.
Miles was selected third overall by the Minnesota Swarm in the 2014 NLL Draft while Lyle won his second consecutive Tewaarton after scoring 52 goals and finishing his senior season with 121 points.
Lyle was taken first overall by the Swarm in the 2015 draft.
Jeremy, the eldest brother, was a second-team All-American at Syracuse University and has won three NLL championships as a member of the Saskatchewan Rush. The second-oldest brother, Jerome “Hiana” Jr., was a third-round pick of the Buffalo Bandits in 2011 – he and Jeremy were both taken by Buffalo that year.
In 2017, they became the first quartet of brothers to play in the same NLL game. Lyle also was named the NLL Most Valuable Player in 2017 – the same year that he, Miles, and Jerome won their first professional championship with the Swarm.
The family’s success doesn’t stop there, however, as the Thompson’s cousin, Bill O’Brien, was also signed by the New England Black Wolves in 2015 after a successful collegiate football career at Sacred Heart University.
Tehoka Nanticoke, a standout sophomore at the University of Albany and the projected first overall pick of the 2021 NLL Draft, spoke out about racial abuse he has faced in Philadelphia while playing high school lacrosse.
The remarks made are a black mark on the game as a whole and shows the dark discrimination that still exists in society. Casual lacrosse fans – and the majority of up and coming lacrosse players – don’t truly know the history of the sport.
Someone who is working for a lacrosse team, even as an in-arena announcer, cannot plausibly plead ignorance when it comes to the history of the sport. It can easily be found by doing a quick Google search.
The apology issued by Hill came off as a man looking to save his own career, not someone who truly feels sorry for what he said. What was said in the statement isn’t surprising. He can never take back what was said. At this point, everything he does is just damage control.
As for the fans that remarked about scalping Thompson, they should be permanently banned from the Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia is universally known as a tough place to play, because of their rowdy fanbase. Wings fans as a whole cannot be blamed for the actions of a few stupid individuals.
It’s really sad that I have to write this today. As someone who covers the game, it’s very obvious that lacrosse, at times, doesn’t get the coverage it truly deserves. Unfortunately for everyone that enjoys the sport, this event has set the game back. It’s a terrible sign that major outlets have lacrosse in the news cycle for this reason and not for the fantastic on-field product that gets showcased every week.
It’s a sad day for lacrosse. All we can do is be better and continue to grow the game.