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2021 NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship: BYU v Florida State

BYU fans cheer from the stands during a game against the Florida State Seminoles at Stevens Stadium on December 6, 2021, in Santa Clara, California. | Source: John Todd/ISI Photos / Getty

The sports department at Brigham Young University (BYU) just can’t seem to stay out of the allegations of racism game, can it? The Provo, Utah, university seemed to have slithered its way out of the hot seat after conducting its own investigation and deciding a white man had not hurled racial slurs at a Black volleyball player for Duke University who said she was a victim of racial heckling during a game between the two schools—despite BYU’s athletic director addressing the incident earlier. 

Well, now, BYU is being hit with fresh claims that racial slurs fly around at its sporting events like “n-word ball” is some kind of new game we just hadn’t heard of.

MORE: BYU Athletic Director Calls Fan’s Racist Abuse Of Duke Volleyball Player Everything Except ‘Racist’

Actually, scratch that—these aren’t new claims. Complaints about BYU fans shouting the N-word at Black women athletes during a soccer game were made last year but in a recent interview with The Guardian, they were reiterated.

From the Guardian:

Five women’s soccer players from a visiting team told the Guardian they heard the N-word being directed at them and their teammates from the crowd during a game at BYU in 2021. Players had knelt for the national anthem to protest racial and social injustice when they say they heard shouts from the crowd.

“I just remember that there was like a consistent chant of ‘stand up, N-words’ during the anthem and right after,” one of the players told the Guardian. “And when brought to the attention of the BYU coaching staff there was no real response or sense of, like, alarm.”

She added: “I felt disappointed but not surprised. Backlash for kneeling was not new for our group but to hear that in person was shocking. I think both the fans and coaching staff knew we wouldn’t cancel the game after the incident, which once again shows this could be part of a bigger cultural issue within BYU as an institution.”

Four of her teammates independently confirmed to the Guardian that they also heard the chants.

A sixth member of the team did not hear the chants but says the BYU coach was told about them. The coach “seemed shocked and did ask” that “another announcement be made about how fans should behave”. The sixth team member said that an announcement warning fans about their behavior was then made but “nothing else was done to my knowledge”.

The identities of the athletes and their university were withheld due to security concerns, but, if we’re being honest, this all tracks. We’ve all seen how white conservatives—who have the caucasity to call anyone an overly sensitive, easily triggered snowflake—go into MAGA meltdown mode anytime an athlete takes a knee during their precious little America theme song. And since BYU’s reported handling of this alleged incident sounds just as haphazard as its handling of the Duke volleyball incident, it just isn’t hard to believe that “nothing else was done” after initial complaints of racism.

In fact, when the Guardian asked a BYU official about the soccer game incident, his response was generally: “Whaaaah? I don’t know nothin’ about that, but we don’t do the racisms here at BYU, I swear.”

OK, here’s what Jon McBride, BYU’s associate athletic director for communications and media strategy, actually said:

“Your inquiry is the first time we are hearing this specific concern. [At] the match, which occurred [in 2021], BYU responded to a concern from the [visiting team] about fan reaction when players knelt during the national anthem. A public announcement, similar to one made earlier, reminding fans to be respectful was repeated, and the game proceeded. We are not aware of any additional concerns being brought up during the game or any time thereafter. As we have stated, BYU will not tolerate racism in any form.”

Any person or organization can state, “racism will not be tolerated here,” but the question remains: Is BYU practicing what it preaches, or is it just letting racism slide at its sporting events while trying to placate Black people through platitudes about how it won’t be “tolerated” instead of taking actual action?

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