The Chicago Cubs are investigating an apparently racist incident at Tuesday night’s game in which a fan appeared to flash a “white power” hand gesture during the live broadcast, Yahoo Sports reports. The fan could potentially be facing a lifetime ban from Wrigley Field.
When the cameras were focused on NBC Sports analyst (and former Cub) Doug Glanville, who is African American, a fan seated directly behind him appears to have placed his hand slightly behind Glanville’s left shoulder. His fingers are arranged with his thumb and index finger touching, other fingers straight.
To the casual observer, the sign looks not unlike the “OK” sign that people use every day (where it indicates “OK” culturally, such as in the U.S., that is). However, Yahoo Sports writer Liz Roscher notes that the sign has changed meaning as of late.
In 2017, a few people within the so-called “alt-right” began using the sign, initially as an act of trolling to convince bystanders that they were flashing “white power” signs when in fact they were just making the “OK” sign. However, Roscher claims that the community has since fully adopted the gesture as one of their own.
That’s certainly how Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney sees it.
“Such ignorant and repulsive behavior is not tolerated at Wrigley Field.”— Tripp Constable (@itsconstable) May 8, 2019
Hmm or maybe.. just maybe... Who are the ones ignorant enough to try and turn this into a repulsive behavior in the first place. https://t.co/vUqWPkzEFH
In a statement, Kenney outright called the sign “racist” and promised an investigation.
“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.”
However, NBC Sports writer Craig Calcaterra posits that the sign may have been innocent enough.
“It is also worth noting that the symbol flashed here is also similar to the so-called ‘circle game’ with which most people who attended middle school at one time or another are familiar. Kind of a ‘made you look’ thing.”
Calcaterra concludes that the Cubs organization should consider that the fan may have been having an innocent bit of fun before jumping to conclusions.
If the fan is deemed by the Cubs to have actually flashed a “white power” sign during the game, he will be banned for life from Wrigley Field.
While fans displaying racist behavior during baseball games is comparatively rare, it’s a thorn in the side of soccer teams across Europe and elsewhere. For example, as Deadspin reported in April, racist chants and sounds meant to imitate monkeys are all too common at some Italian games whenever a black player appears on the field.