Cleburne sports broadcaster fired over commentary during high school football game

Sports broadcaster fired over high school football commentary

Friday night, Cleburne football will play its homecoming game against Burleson High School, and JacketRadio.com will be broadcasting. They'll be doing so without the broadcaster at the center of last week's controversial comments, in which he called the opposing team "Coogroes."

"It's sickening to hear someone make comments like that about kids," said Detarius Jackson.

Jackson is the father of an Arlington Seguin High School athlete, proud of his daughter's work. But he's disgusted by the way a sports commentator in Cleburne, identified as Mark Banton, described Segiun's students in an internet radio broadcast on JacketRadio.com last week. They were broadcasting from the Cleburne/Seguin football game.

"We have to do better as adults, to teach our kids this is not okay," Jackson said.

The broadcast has since been taken down from JacketRadio.com, but the Star-Telegram shared the audio with WFAA.

At one point, after describing the ball placement as 4th and 1, he calls the Cougars the "Coogroes." Later, he commented about a cheerleader's weight.

"Can we talk about that Seguin cheerleader?" he said. "Jenny Craig has a lot of work to do with her."

Cleburne ISD spokeswoman Lisa Magers said JacketRadio.com is not a district entity, though they have endorsed it on their website. She says the district will not stand for what was said.

"The district does not condone unprofessional behavior, unkind, inappropriate remarks, unethical remarks," she said. 

Friday, Monty Dobbins, who runs the website, said Banton had been released.

"JacketRadio.com regrets and apologizes for the inappropriate and unprofessional comments made by one of our commentators, Mark Banton," Dobbins wrote. "Remarks expressed were totally uncalled for and we apologize for any embarrassment and hurt they may have caused..."

Jackson said that was the right thing to do in the face of what he calls a racist remark.

"I wouldn't allow my daughter to visit Cleburne if he was going to be calling those games," he said. 

Banton did have a role in yesterday's homecoming parade, as the ex-students association parade marshal. The district said that board was not aware of the comments—until after the parade.

Late Friday, Banton e-mailed a long statement in which he apologized and explained.

"First, let me say that I sincerely apologize to anyone in the Arlington ISD (players, coaches, parents, cheerleaders, administrators) if anything I said during Friday night's broadcast of the Cleburne / Arlington Seguin football game offended them in any way. That is not me. It is not my heart, my nature or my personality," he wrote.

He went on to say the term he used Friday had never crossed his mind as being racially offensive. He also called his Jenny Craig comment "out of line." 

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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