EASTON, Maine — EDITOR'S NOTE: There is language in the video below that is degrading and offensive. Listener discretion is advised.
Two broadcasters for WHOU, a radio station based in Houlton, have been fired after they were heard body-shaming student-athletes during an internet livestream.
The comments by Steve Shaw and Jim Carter were picked up during the broadcast of the junior varsity game between Caribou High School and Fort Kent Community High School on Thursday night. The two were preparing to call the girls varsity game between those two schools. Their comments, however, were about girls from Easton High School who were playing in a varsity basketball game against Central Aroostook High School. Shaw and Carter were watching the Easton-Central Aroostook game on a separate monitor that wasn't visible on the WHOU livestream.
"Extremely overweight. Awful," Carter said of two girls during the broadcast.
Shaw then commented on finding "uniforms that fit the girls."
Seconds later, Carter identified a girl by her uniform number and said, "Wow ... would you look at her."
Shaw withdrew himself from the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame less than a week after the incident. He had been inducted in 2020. The Maine Basketball Hall of Fame accepted his withdrawal.
"Prior to his withdrawal, the board of directors had scheduled a Wednesday vote on Shaw's status as a 2020 Legend of the Game," the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame wrote in a Facebook post.
The post continued, "The MBHoF board of directors believes that words and actions matter and strives to create a culture of respect and inclusion."
Easton Superintendent Mark Stanley said he heard about the broadcasters' comments shortly after they made them Thursday evening.
“We’re a small school up here, we know all our kids really well, we’re lucky in that regard, and so we know every single player that was on that team being talked about," he said during a Zoom interview Friday.
Stanley added he was upset on many levels after hearing the comments made during the broadcast, including as a parent of young girls himself.
"I think anger is probably the reaction everybody had when they saw and heard what happened," he added.
When the girls came into school on Friday, Stanley said they were greeted and offered support services. Stanley also said he spoke to the parents of the students involved.
Emily Hill was on the court that night. She's the head coach of the Easton team and a middle school teacher. She found out about the inappropriate comments around the same time Stanley did Thursday night.
“It is frustrating and upsetting to hear those things being said, especially in regard to young girls," Hill said via Zoom Friday. “To hear that from those men was very upsetting.”
In a statement posted to WHOU's website Friday morning, owner Fred Grant wrote, "Tonight, two broadcasters made comments that were not only inappropriate, they were also blatantly wrong. Those broadcasters were terminated."
"All of our students deserve our respect. Our students are living through the most challenging times in our history," he wrote. "Not only are they struggling through a pandemic, but they also have the challenges of living in an age of social media which many of us would say that’s even worse than the pandemic."
Grant told NEWS CENTER Maine he spent the majority of his day on Friday speaking with the parties involved in Thursday's incident.
Schools from across the state reached out to the Easton community, according to Stanley.
Hill said she has also heard from folks outside the Easton community who reached out for support. She said she was able to speak with her team via FaceTime Friday and spoke to individual players throughout the day.
“[I said] how proud I am of these girls for rallying together, rallying around each other, and lifting each other up," Hill added. “It made me so proud of them not just as athletes but as young girls in general."
Stanley said the troubling thing is, "the damage has been done. Those words have been spoken."
Although they were just words, Christine Selby, a professor of physiology at Husson University, said there could still be short and long-term consequences.
“When someone hears something negative about their body, they want to change it, especially if it comes from someone important to them, but it doesn’t have to be from someone important," Selby added.
It can affect both males and females, Selby added. It is important, she said, for these student-athletes to know "it's not their problem at all."
“But they need to feel like they’re supported and who they are and how they live is perfectly acceptable," she added.
Both Hill and Stanley said they were glad action was taken to remove the two broadcasters from their positions and added the comments never should have been made.
“That’s nonsense. That kind of talk is nonsense. That viewpoint is nonsense. There’s not a school in the state of Maine that would tolerate such views, certainly not here in Easton," Staley said.
Stanley also said he believes the firing of the two broadcasters proves WHOU does not tolerate any of this behavior either.