Mar 13, 2015 - Wahoo Sports Commentator calls Winnebago Team Victory “Firewater Win” By Danielle Miller
Today March 12, was the Boys State Tournament at Devaney Center where team Wahoo played Winnebago. Winnebago Tribal members listened to the game streaming from Wahoo Sports Online and were appalled by the completely racist and insensitive comment made by Wahoo Sports commentator: “The party will be pouring onto the streets tonight.” “Firewater win!”
Native communities put so much into youth, the teams work hard all year just to get to these Tournaments, imagine the disappointment they must have felt hearing something like that. What kind of sports professional would make such a blatantly racist comment? Just what is it about sports environments that make people believe that this treatment towards Natives is acceptable?
Native communities are still healing from the incident with the 57 Lakota students who attended a hockey game in Rapid City and had beer poured on them while getting racial slurs yelled at them. The perpetrator only received a “disorderly conduct” charge for something that was clearly a hate crime. In 2013 there was a Sonic sign (meant to be an act of sports rivalry) which made reference to fire water :
This sign went viral and become a major turning point in the discussion of eradicating Native mascots. The reference to fire water has always been a racial slight towards Native Americans therefore it took the sign from being about Redskins to the larger issue of racism towards Natives in the name of sports. Many can also recall the outrage that resulted from “Siouxperdrunk” tee shirts that were worn at UND picturing a modified version of the Fighting Sioux mascot with a beer bong in its mouth. There is no way that someone can be that ignorant that they don’t realize “firewater” is a racial insult. Many are aware of the disparities related to alcoholism that exist amongst Native Americans and the ways those statistics contribute to the offensive stereotypes that associate Natives with being alcoholics. The racial hostility harbored towards Native Americans in the name of sports is completely uncalled for. It’s unacceptable that these racial incidents keep escalating in multiple contexts and are beginning to target Native Youth. We are witnessing the effects of stereotyping and the stigma that is perpetuated and the way that it escalates to condone direct targeting of Native Youth.
Wahoo Sports has had enough respect to take responsibility for the comment, and has already begun issuing apologies and a suspension for the commentator. Wahoo said they would also give a public apology during their next broadcast. However Natives are still asking that Wahoo Sports give a direct apology to the Native Students.