'Let's Snip The Ponytail': Philadelphia Sports Announcer Fired for Racially Charged Comment About Player

nll lyle thompson philadelphia announcer fired
Lyle Thompson of the Florida Launch plays during the game against the Boston Cannons at FAU Stadium on June 20, 2015, in Boca Raton, Florida. On Saturday, during a game against the Philadelphia Wings an announcer said, "let's snip the ponytail," in reference to Thompson. Rob Foldy/Getty Images

An announcer for the National Lacrosse League lost his job after making a comment about a player's hair that was deemed to be offensive based on the player's race.

On Saturday night, the Georgia Swarm faced off against the Philadelphia Wings at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. As forward Lyle Thompson, who had his hair in a long braid, made his way toward the goal, announcer Shawny Hill said, "Let's snip the ponytail."

Lyle is of Iroquois descent and from the Onondaga Reservation in New York and he shared his experience on Twitter after the game. Along with the announcer's comment, the Swarm player claimed that fans said they were going to scalp him.

"I know Philly takes pride in their ruthless fans but I didn't know it was like that lol..." he wrote on Twitter. "Now I know… just haven't heard stuff like this since [high school]."

Lyle explained that it wasn't the entire arena that chanted about scalping, it was just two individuals who were seated behind his team's bench.

His teammate, Brendan Bomberry, expressed his own outrage at the comment, calling it "disgusting." He added that forced haircuts were a reality for his own ancestors when they were sent to Christian residential schools.

Great game and atmosphere @NLLwings but it was overshadowed by your in game announcer’s comments towards my teammates, “let’s snip the braid” was disgusting and a reality for my ancestors when they were forced into Christian residential schools

— Brendan Bomberry (@Leftybombz21) January 13, 2019

With seven native athletes on its roster, the Swarm said that the organization was standing in unity with Lyle, the Thompson family and all native players who were impacted by the derogatory comment.

"The comment that was made will not be tolerated and does not reflect the core values of our league or the great sport of lacrosse," the Swarm said.

On Sunday, the Wings apologized for the "insensitive words" that Hill chose and called it an "inadvertent yet offensive occurrence." The organization said it does not tolerate discrimination and was taking disciplinary action and educational measures to prevent it from happening again.


— Philadelphia Wings (@NLLwings) January 13, 2019

Hill also issued an apology of his own after the game and acknowledged that his words were poorly chosen but said they weren't intended to be racially motivated.

"I understand the profound hurt my words have caused," he said. "My words do not reflect my personal beliefs, but represent a lack of knowledge on heritage and history."

Lyle's brother, Miles, also plays for the Swarm as a forward. Hill said he was in the process of reaching out to them both so he could apologize directly to them.

However, Hill's apology wasn't enough to save his job and on Monday, the Wings announced that he would no longer be part of the organization. The team said that along with being removed from his role with the Wings, he was also suspended from all announcing assignments at the Wells Fargo Center.

"In addition, the wings are working closely with the National Lacrosse League to implement ongoing diversity training for all employees which will include a focus on Native North American roots and traditions of the sport," the lacrosse team said.

To help others honor and understand the history and tradition of the sport, the Swarm said its working with the NLL, Wings and its native players to help implement additional educational programs.

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