West Point cadets and Naval Academy midshipman appeared to make a hand gesture associated with white supremacy during Saturday’s ESPN pre-game show before the Army-Navy football game.
Military officials told NBC News that they are investigating the matter.
“West Point is looking into it, and we do not know the intent of the cadets,” a spokesperson said in an email.
A spokesperson for the Naval Academy also said they are “aware and will be looking into it.”
The broadcast showed at least three students in the stands at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia flash an upside-down OK signal behind ESPN host Rece Davis.
In September, the Anti-Defamation League added the OK hand signal to its list of “Hate on Display” signals, while the Sothern Poverty Law Center also recognizes it as a white power gesture.
The Anti-Defamation League describes the symbol as “a common hand gesture that a 4chan trolling campaign claimed in 2017 had been appropriated as a symbol meaning ‘white power.’ Used by many on the right — not just extremists — for the purpose of trolling liberals, the symbol eventually came to be used by actual white supremacists as well. Caution must be used in evaluating instances of this symbol’s use.”
Others on Twitter defended the use of the signal as part of “the circle game,” which involves the person looking at the OK hand signal gets to be punched by the instigator.
This is not the first time a fan at a sporting event used the purported racist gesture. Earlier this year, a fan was banned from Wrigley Field for making the gesture during a television broadcast.