Army and Navy: Students were playing 'circle game' and not making white supremacist hand gestures on 'GameDay'

Nick Bromberg

Investigations by both Army and Navy have concluded that students were playing a game and were not intending to make racist hand gestures during the Dec. 14 broadcast of ESPN’s “College GameDay.”

The investigations started after at least four cadets and midshipmen were seen in the background of the broadcast flashing the “OK” symbol with their hands. The hand symbol has been co-opted by white supremacist groups in recent years as members of the alt-right have flashed it in photos and videos.

A Cubs fan was banned from Wrigley Field after he flashed the sign in the background of a report by former MLB player turned broadcaster Doug Glanville during a telecast of a Cubs game in May because of its white supremacy associations.

Unlike the Cubs, Army and Navy said Friday that while they were disappointed with the students’ behavior, that behavior was immature and not racist.

"We are confident the hand gestures used were not intended to be racist in any way. However, we are disappointed by the immature behavior of the two Fourth Class Midshipmen, and their actions will be appropriately addressed," Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said in a statement. "The Naval Academy is fully committed to preparing young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character, and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps; in this case, we recognize there is more work to be done."

Army West Point also agreed with the immaturity.

"We investigated this matter thoroughly," Army Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams said in a statement. "Last Saturday we had reason to believe these actions were an innocent game and not linked to extremism, but we must take allegations such as these very seriously. We are disappointed by the immature behavior of the cadets."

The immediate defense of the behavior was that the cadets and midshipmen were playing the “circle game.” In the game, a person gets punched in the shoulder if he looks at an OK sign flashed by someone else below the waist.

ESPN recently reported that the Army football team ditched a motto the team had adopted after discovering its white supremacist connections. The motto had first been adopted by past members of the team after seeing a movie starring Brian Bosworth.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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