Activists seek probe of school team's anti-Semitic language

DUXBURY, Mass. — The Anti-Defamation League is calling for an independent investigation into a Massachusetts high school football team that used anti-Semitic language, including a mention of Auschwitz, in its on-field play calling during a recent game.

Robert Trestan, president of the New England Anti-Defamation League, said Tuesday he was told by the superintendent of Duxbury schools that the words “rabbi” and “dreidel” were also used in Duxbury High School’s March 12 game against Plymouth North.

The school conducted its own investigation after being alerted by Plymouth officials, but Trestan said someone outside the district should look into the matter.

“I think some level of expertise is needed here to get the answers to these questions,” he said. “When you have all the information, the community can heal and the school has the opportunity to embrace learning and ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Superintendent John Antonucci said in a statement that the district’s investigation found members of the football team used “anti-Semitic and potentially other inappropriate and derogatory language.”

“We have been in touch with many members of the community, parents, and the Anti-Defamation League regarding the seriousness of the allegations,” Antonucci said.

He said the words were not directed at the opposing team or at a particular player.

“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,” he said. “In short, this was a systemic failure.”

Coach Dave Maimaron also released a statement in which he apologized.

“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,” he said. He called the language “careless, unnecessary and most importantly hurtful on its face — inexcusable.”

The school announced Wednesday that a game scheduled for Friday against Hingham has been canceled.

“We believe this is a necessary step in light of the recent incident involving the use of anti-Semitic language by Duxbury football players,” Antonucci said in a statement. “A decision about future games will be made at a later date.”

Massachusetts high school football is being played in the spring this year because the coronavirus pandemic caused postponement of the fall season.

Duxbury in recent years has been one of the state’s most successful teams with five state Super Bowl championships since 2005.

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