One of the longest-serving referees in Texas high school football, has been suspended for using a racist term. However, though the official admits to using the N-word, he claims he was “baited” into it.
Referee Mike Atkinson is currently on suspension after several telephone conversations with him using the N-word, were uncovered during an investigation into a dispute involving another official and the Texas Association of Sports Officials.
Atkinson does not dispute using the racist term, but he says both parties were using it, and that he was “baited” into it.
“They’re putting all this out there that I’m a big-time racist and all this,” Atkinson explained to the Houston Chronicle. “For the people that know me, they know that’s not true.
“We were back and forth. I understand what it sounds like, but I was baited into it.”
According to the Houston Chronicle:
In one of the clips, Atkinson addresses a ‘Chapter and Crew Mixer’ hosted by the Houston Football Chapter of TASO, held at Kirby Ice House on Feb. 10.
‘I just went to the mixer the other day … a bunch of f—— n—–s wanting a free meal,’ Atkinson said.The context isn’t clear in the other clips, but they include the following statements:
‘He would find a way to n—– it up.’
‘There probably was some of them … (a black official) thought he had, ’cause he wanted to be the big n—–.’
Atkinson came under scrutiny when several officials noted that he has never had a black referee on any of his crews. Reports also claim that Atkinson would only add black officials if it were a requirement.
“For more than 25 years, my crew has been on top,” Atkinson told the Chronicle. “This is just a way to take the guy on top down.”
“Atkinson will have to petition the TASO state board and the Houston chapter board for reinstatement, and both boards must approve the request if he is to return to the field for the 2020 season,” according to the Houston Chronicle.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn