Meyers Leonard, a professional basketball player in the center position for the NBA's Miami Heat team, is currently under fire after being caught using an anti-Semitic slur while playing Call of Duty, during a Twitch live stream.
Meyers Leonard says racial slurs while playing CoD pic.twitter.com/WHwUnbV0pR
— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) March 9, 2021
In the said video, Leonard can be heard saying profanities and demeaning language aimed towards another player.
Meyers and Miami Heat Take Swift Action
It didn't take too long for the video to make rounds. As a result, within just hours, Leonard had already issued an apology for his action. In it, he refers to his ignorance of what the words meant to the Jewish community as not an excuse for his behavior. Furthermore, he apologies to everyone, especially the Jewish community.
Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard releases statement apologizing for saying anti-Semitic slur on a livestream: pic.twitter.com/AOi7ZE6nCy
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 10, 2021
Unfortunately, despite issuing an apology, the Miami Heat has decided that they will be putting Leonard on the bench for an indefinite period of time. Meanwhile, the NBA will take its time investigating the matter.
A statement from FaZe Clan. pic.twitter.com/ePo1NGEaN5
— FaZe Clan (@FaZeClan) March 9, 2021
The consequences of Leonard's actions also extend further than spending time away from his team.
Numerous brands that have aligned themselves or supported the 29-year-old in the past have since denounced him. This includes professional esports organization, FaZe Clan, with who he had signed a partnership with back in 2019.
Leonard's Case Is Just One of Many
The online gaming community has learned to adapt and weaponize the very same insults hurled by Leonard in-game. This signals a systemic issue that needs to be addressed on a larger scale, in particular, when it comes to racism. It is unfortunate that nearly every person who has played any online game has faced a similar issue in the past.
It is not uncommon for players online to use insulting and degrading words as a way to celebrate after having defeated their opponents.
With that said, it'll be interesting to see what will happen after this.
Considering that it's already blown up massively in less than 24 hours, we most likely have not heard the end of this issue just yet. More importantly, we're hoping that Leonard being caught in an unfortunate situation serves as a lesson for every player online, regardless of their popularity and/or skill.
After all, it should be easy to make a conscious effort not to resort to using such language regardless of the context or situation.
Speaking of, numerous developers are well aware of the prevalence and free use of such words in their games. As a result, many have taken measures to limit the use of such language. However, developers can only do so much. It is still up to players to remind themselves and everyone else just how hurtful and consequential using these words can be.