The Chicago Cubs announced late Thursday that they have banned a fan accused of making a “racist gesture” on television from Wrigley Field for life.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Cubs organization followed a series of leads Wednesday searching for the fan, who purchased his tickets to Tuesday’s game between the Cubs and Marlins on secondary market site StubHub.
The Cubs also decided, after meetings on Wednesday, that the gesture was, indeed, “racist,” and constituted “hate speech,” though they admit they have not spoken to the fan who made the hand signal. Cubs officials told the Sun-Times that they tried calling the fan on Wednesday but received no answer, so they simply mailed him notice of his lifetime ban from Wrigley through snail mail.
The controversy began during Tuesday night’s Cubs broadcast, when the fan in question made an upside-down “ok” hand signal on live television while NBC Sports commentator Doug Glanville, who is black, was reporting from near the Cubs dugout. The “bearded fan,” who was wearing a Cubs sweatshirt and grey pants, appeared on screen only briefly before the network cut to a graphic, but long enough that the hand gesture could be seen clearly.
The upside-down “ok” gesture is associated with a juvenile endeavor called “the circle game,” where players try to get others to look at the hand signal made below their waist. The right-side-up “ok” gesture is associated with white nationalists, thanks to a prank from Internet tricksters on 4chan and 8chan that made its way into the mainstream. The Christchurch mosque shooter, for example, flashed the symbol several times during his initial appearance in court.
In a meeting Wednesday, Cubs officials determined the gesture was most likely intended to be offensive. The Cubs director of business operations, Crane Kenney, told a Chicago sports radio program “that team officials met and decided it was more likely the gesture was used in a ‘racist way,'” the Sun-Times reports.
“This was bad judgment on the part of the individual. Whether sophomoric behavior or some other stunt, to use that in connection with a respected journalist, who happens to be African American, and doing his job to deliver enjoyment to our fans is ignorant. It has no place [at] Wrigley Field,” a Cubs spokesperson told meda Thursday, according to the Washington Examiner.
“There is no extra incentive to be proactive and take action against racism and hate speech,” he added. “When you see something wrong and offensive, you take swift action period.”
If the fan appears in any ticketed area in and around Wrigley Field, he will be arrested for trespassing, the Cubs said.
Glanville says he is grateful to the team for taking swift action.
“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,” he told the New York Post. “They have displayed sensitivity as to how the implications of this would affect me as a person of color. I am supporting their efforts in fully investigating the matter and I will comment further once the investigation has run its course.”