CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs say a fan who appeared to use an offensive hand gesture associated with racism behind an on-air television reporter Tuesday will be banned from Wrigley Field.
Reporter Doug Glanville, who formerly played three seasons for the Cubs, was reporting live on NBC Sports Chicago during Tuesday night’s game at Wrigley Field when a fan seated behind him gave an upside down “OK” gesture.
Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said in a statement early Wednesday that the gesture made behind Glanville, “appears to be an offensive hand gesture that is associated with racism.”
“We are reviewing the incident thoroughly because no one should be subjected to this type of offensive behavior,” Glanville said. “Any individual behaving in this manner will not only be removed from the ballpark, but will be permanently banned from Wrigley Field.”
The Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center have identified the gesture as a hate symbol associated with white supremacists.
Some argued the gesture was just part of the “Circle Game,” where one person makes a “circle” with their fingers and holds it below their waist, convincing a second person to look at it. If the second person looks, they receive a punch to the shoulder.
“If it is believed to be the Circle game, then this person made a bad judgment call by using a symbol associated with racism above an African American reporter’s head while he’s doing his job on live TV,” said Cubs Spokesperson Julian Green. “This is something we are not going to drop.”
In a press conference Wednesday, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said the team identified the person who made the gesture and would be reaching out to let him know he would “never be welcome back to Wrigley Field.”
“We’ve made clear how egregious and unacceptable that behavior is, and there’s no place for it in our society, in baseball and certainly no place in Wrigley Field,” Epstein said.
Epstein said the team decided to take a strong stance in order to send a message that the team is a “welcoming organization” that values inclusion and diversity.
“When there are episodes that threaten that or challenge that, even if it’s just a fan acting on his own in a completely unacceptable way, you have to have a strong response to demonstrate what is allowed and what isn’t and reinforce your values,” Epstein said.