'Nazi' Play Calls, Racial Slurs Heard on High School Football Field

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In a letter to the Beachwood (Ohio) City Schools community Saturday, superintendent Robert Hardis announced that a number of antisemitic incidents took place on the field during Beachwood High School's home football game against Brooklyn.

As reported by Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC, Hardis stated that he learned late in the first half of the game that Brooklyn’s team was repeatedly using the word “Nazi” to call out a play. Game officials were notified, as were Brooklyn's athletic director and head coach. 

According to Hardis, during halftime, "Brooklyn’s coach acknowledged using this word as the play call, apologized, and agreed to change it when the teams returned for the second half." Beachwood school leaders told the game officials that should the use of "Nazi" continue, they would pull their players off the field.

But while Hardis says that to his knowledge "Nazi" was not used during the second half, members of Beachwood's team said that several Brooklyn players were using "a racial slur freely throughout the night."

Here is the remainder of Hardis' statement, as reported by WKYC's Dave DeNatale:

Antisemitic and racist speech are unacceptable in any setting. They are counter to the norms and expectations we teach our students. They violate the rules of sportsmanship agreed to by every Chagrin Valley Conference school district. We are in contact with the Brooklyn Schools administration and trust they will address this situation in a manner that demonstrates accountability. They have been responsive, appropriately concerned and apologetic. We are confident that the actions of a few are not representative of Brooklyn Schools nor the Brooklyn community.

As we have in the past, we will work closely with Chagrin Valley Conference school districts to address antisemitism and racial slurs. Beachwood Schools will always prioritize the safety of our students and staff, whether in school or during athletic contests. If members of our school community need support for their anger and distress after this incident, we will provide it. If we can assist in repairing the damage done by the actions of Brooklyn’s football team, we will do so as soon as possible. This is not the first time Beachwood student-athletes have been subjected to antisemitic and racist speech. We always hope it will be the last.

WKYC reached out to the Brooklyn City School District for a response, and superintendent Dr. Ted Caleris released the following statement:

On behalf of everyone in the Brooklyn City Schools family, we offer our sincerest apologies to the members of the Beachwood football family and school community for the hurtful, insensitive, and entirely inappropriate choice of language used during the first half of this past Friday night’s football game.

Our football coaching staff expressed their regret to the Beachwood football family immediately during the contest, and took corrective measures in the second half, in finishing the contest. While to the knowledge of the Brooklyn City Schools, this language was not directed to any single individual, the choice in using it at all, was utterly and absolutely wrong.

Brooklyn City Schools officials are looking more closely into this matter in order to determine what steps, if any, will be emerge as a result of this incident. The isolated incident does not represent the Brooklyn schools family on the whole, in our efforts to uphold tradition and pride of our diverse school community."

On Sunday, Beachwood mayor Justin Berns added this statement:

We strongly condemn the racist and antisemitic language used by Brooklyn’s football team at Friday’s game in Beachwood. There is no place for this sort of behavior, and we invite Brooklyn's city leaders to join us in condemning it. Brooklyn's behavior violates the norms and expectations of conduct that should be taught to every student.

We commend the leadership of Beachwood's schools, including Head Coach Scott Fischer and Athletic Director Ryan Peters, for taking prompt action to protect our students. We also commend Superintendent Robert Hardis' outreach to Brooklyn, asking that they address this issue and hold people appropriately accountable. Most importantly, we commend Beachwood’s football team, which took the right action by calling out this behavior while continuing to hold themselves to high standards of conduct.

We do appreciate the apology issued by Brooklyn’s school leadership and we trust that they will address this issue in a way that demonstrates accountability."

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