"The outrage is real, warranted, and we hear it."
That's how administrators at Duxbury High School in Massachusetts characterized community reaction to reports that the school's football team used anti-Semitic language, including a mention of Auschwitz, in its on-field audible play-calling during a recent game. "The fact that members of our school community used such offensive language, including anti-Semitic language, is horrifying and disappointing," the administrators added in their emailed statement.
As reported by ESPN, the school has fired head coach Dave Maimaron, canceled Friday's scheduled game and hired an outside consultant — attorney Edward Mitnick of Just Training Solutions LLC — to assist in an investigation. In addition, the team will undergo sensitivity and diversity training, according to boston.com.
The announcement came the day after Robert Trestan, president of the New England Anti-Defamation League, called for an independent investigation. Trestan said he was told by district superintendent John Antonucci that the words "rabbi" and "dreidel" were also used in Duxbury's March 12 game against Plymouth North. Plymouth school officials alerted Duxbury about the matter, ESPN reported.
"It's deeply hurtful to the Jewish community to learn that the plays somehow connect to the Holocaust and Judaism," Trestan said. "This is a really serious situation. There are indications of a systemic failure both on and off the field."
The insensitive words were not directed at the opposing team or at a particular player, said Antonucci, one of four administrators to co-sign the statement, which further reads, "We know from many conversations, emails and online posts that many people want action now, and we appreciate that sentiment. However, we are still in the middle of an active investigation and it is important that we get accurate information and facts in this case."
Maimaron had been the school's coach since 2005, compiling a 159-43 record and winning five state championships, according to boston.com. One former player told The Boston Globe that the anti-Semitic language had been used for some time — but only in practice.
Maimaron issued a statement to the Globe earlier this week, calling the language "careless, unnecessary and most importantly hurtful on its face — inexcusable."
"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 12th," Maimaron said.
Public outrage extended from the Globe's Dan Shaugnessy, who called for Maimaron's firing in a column Tuesday, to Duxbury Interfaith Council president Catherine Cullen, who heads a group called “Duxbury For All — Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” That group sent a letter to Duxbury’s selectmen condemning the language used by the them, boston.com reported.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Howard Cohen of the Congregation Shirat Hayam in Duxbury called the situation “a perfect teachable moment.”