National Women’s Soccer League commissioner Lisa Baird issued an apology to North Carolina Courage star forward Jessica McDonald for an NWSL broadcast production that incorrectly identified a Black boy in the stands of her game as her 9-year-old son, Jeremiah.
A TV graphic identified the child as Jeremiah, the son of McDonald, who is Black. The camera panned to the child, who was wearing a mask and baseball cap, as the announcer also called him Jeremiah and highlighted McDonald’s goal in the first half of Saturday’s match between the Courage and OL Reign. The match was aired on CBS Sports.
McDonald tweeted the 15-second clip on Sunday evening, writing that she was, “Honored to have been featured at halftime on @CBS but this isn’t even my son. Not sure who’s responsible for pointing out some random black kid in the stands. But this is NOT OK!!!!!! This poor kid looks ssooo uncomfortable…”
Comments on the clip read, “Yikes,” and, “This is so wrong.”
“I literally can’t stop thinking about this,” one user, @SirenSports, wrote. “That boy doesn’t even look like her son… whenever y’all think the work is done, and racism is finally taking a break, remember these (not so) micro-aggressions.”
Baird wrote on Twitter Monday afternoon that she was “deeply apologetic for the misidentification made during the match on Saturday in North Carolina that was produced by the NWSL.”
“I sincerely apologize to @J_Mac1422 and her son Jeremiah, as well as the young boy in the camera shot and his family for our mistake,” Baird wrote.
Baird also sent a personal apology note to McDonald yesterday, according to a league spokesperson. McDonald commented, “Thank you” on Baird’s apology on Twitter.
The clip was aired on Juneteeth, a national holiday that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. The network also featured a two-minute prerecorded segment about McDonald and her son that day.
“I’m here to lead the path for my son,” McDonald, a World Cup champion and three-time NWSL champion, said in the video. “I think it’s important for him, especially as a little Black boy in America.”
This is not the first time this season that a Black NWSL player has pointed out a racist incident in a game setting. In April, Red Stars defender Sarah Gorden said that she and her boyfriend were racially profiled by a security guard at BBVA Stadium in Houston. She tweeted that security threatened to arrest her boyfriend for getting too close to her after a match and that, “At first I didn’t realize this was a racial issue until I saw white @HoustonDash players surrounding the stadium talking closely to their family and we were the only ones targeted.”
The league announced in May that no disciplinary would be taken against the club and declined to comment further on the situation following an independent investigation.