It's been a rough week for the state of Michigan regarding its two major college football teams, but Michigan State is under the microscope after a poor choice of imagery on their scoreboard.
The Michigan Wolverines are currently under investigation by the NCAA (again), this time over allegations of sign-stealing. And this past Saturday, Michigan State found itself embroiled in a controversy of its own after an employee of the football program allowed an image of Adolf Hitler to be shown on its stadium videoboards before its 49-0 loss against its intrastate rival.
Michigan State Athletic Director Alan Haller announced the suspension of that employee, who was not named, with pay pending an investigation.
The video was streamed from a third-party quiz channel on YouTube. One of the 40 questions on the quiz asked where Hitler was born, followed by showing Austria as the answer.
— Jeff Kowalsky (@JeffKowalsky) October 21, 2023
It didn't take long for the video to go viral and create a wave of backlash. On Sunday, Haller issued a public apology, saying the video was not reviewed in its entirety by anyone in the athletic department, and he acknowledged a failure in its process.
"Antisemitism must be denounced," Haller said in a statement Sunday night. "The image displayed prior to Saturday night's game is not representative of who we are and the culture we embody. Nevertheless, we must own our failures and accept responsibility."
According to Floris van Pallandt, The Quiz Channel's creator and producer, the school did not request permission or pay him to use his content. He also defended his decision to include the question on his quiz.
"It's an absolutely normal trivia question, shown in an inappropriate setting," van Pallandt wrote on his channel. "Ignoring the dark facets of history is by no means the answer."
Give Haller and the school credit for owning up to the situation. While he may not have known in advance the employee would post such sensitive content, he took personal responsibility for the incident happening on his watch and admitted that the current procedure for showing video content was flawed. He also pledged to reach out to the Jewish community in the East Lansing area and on campus to start a dialogue.
While it's true that one cannot erase the history of wrongdoing in our world — be it slavery or the slaughtering of millions of Jews during the Holocaust — this employee should have known better in today's environment. It's also a shame that it took an unfortunate event like this to force the school to examine its policy of the type of content shown in its stadium, where people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds are gathered.
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