Leaders of a Massachusetts football program are in hot water after the team reportedly used anti-Semitic language during a recent game.
The Duxbury Public School system issued a statement Monday saying its varsity high school football team used “highly offensive language” on the field as part of a play-call system designed to make “on-field adjustments.”
“It is important to note that while the players clearly demonstrated poor judgment, the responsibility for this incident also lies with the adults overseeing the program. In short, this was a systemic failure,” the school wrote in a statement signed by Duxbury superintendent John Antonucci, assistant superintendent Danielle Klingaman, and high school principal James Donovan.
The statement noted that some of the language had religious connotations, which were not directed toward the opposing team or at any individual. According to NBC Boston, the team is accused of using terms like “Auschwitz” during a season-opening 35-0 win over Plymouth North on March 12.
“It trivializes Judaism and it trivializes the Holocaust,” said Robert Trestan, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League’s New England chapter. “Auschwitz is one of history’s worst known death camps … it really has no place being used as a substitute for a football play.”
Officials said they learned of the situation last week and “immediately” launched an investigation, which is still ongoing. They noted that the play call system has since been halted.
The statement added that the school will be instituting mandatory training for the football team so they can understand the impact of words used on and off the field.
“Finally, our administration will be conducting a review to determine how we can integrate the elements of diversity, equity, and inclusion into all of our athletic and co-curricular programs,” according to the statement.
Longtime head coach Dave Maimaron also issued a statement Monday expressing remorse after he was suspended last week due to the team’s “inappropriate conduct,” according to the Boston Herald.
“On behalf of the staff and players of the Duxbury High School football team, I want to extend my apology for the insensitive, crass, and inappropriate language used in the game on March 12,” the statement said. “The use of this language was careless, unnecessary, and most importantly hurtful on its face – inexcusable.”
“The staff and the team have been transparent and cooperative with administration during this time, and we have taken responsibility for the incident. We are dealing with this as a team and focusing on the lessons we can learn from this,” it continued.
He added the incident did not reflect the values of the football program, high school, or the town of Duxbury.