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Ohio high school football coach resigns after players use ‘Nazi’ in play calls

BROOKLYN, Ohio — An Ohio high school football coach resigned Monday after his team used racist and antisemitic language to call out plays during a game last week in a heavily Jewish town.

Brooklyn High School coach Tim McFarland and his players repeatedly used the word “Nazi” as a play call in a game against Beachwood High School. Beachwood, a Cleveland suburb, is roughly 90% Jewish, according to the latest survey published in 2011 by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. It is the second-highest rate of Jewish residents in the country.

The Brooklyn team stopped using the term in the second half of the game after Beachwood threatened to pull their players from the field, according to statement from Beachwood Schools Superintendent Robert Hardis. However, several Brooklyn players continued to direct racial slurs at Beachwood players during the game, the statement read.

McFarland submitted his resignation Monday and apologized via a statement written by the district, the Cleveland Jewish News reported. Local Jewish groups have also reached out to district officials, who have indicated a willingness to work with them.

The offensive play calls were first flagged by Beachwood’s head coach, Scott Fischer, at halftime, the school’s athletic director told parents in an email after the game.

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“During my discussion with Coach Fischer at halftime, we agreed that if these actions continued we would pull our team off the field,” wrote the school’s athletic director, Ryan Peters, as reported by the Cleveland Jewish News. Peters said that McFarland admitted to using the “Nazi” play and agreed to change the name of the play for the game’s second half.

The mother of a Beachwood cheerleader told the Cleveland Jewish News they couldn’t hear the offensive language in the stands.

The language was also condemned by the mayor and city council of Beachwood.

Brooklyn Schools Superintendent Ted Caleris said in a statement that McFarland “expresses his deepest regret” and that he and the school apologize for “hurtful and harmful speech” that will “not be tolerated.”

Caleris also stated that Brooklyn High School has been contacted by the Anti-Defamation League of Ohio and hopes to use them as a resource going forward from the incident.

Hardis confirmed in a statement that the two school districts are in close contact and that Brooklyn has been “appropriately concerned and apologetic.”

“This is not the first time Beachwood student-athletes have been subjected to antisemitic and racist speech,” Hardis also said. “We always hope it will be the last.”

The statements did not mention disciplinary action toward the players involved

It was not the first time in recent memory a high school football team employed antisemitic language in its play-calling. In 2021, a Boston-area school was found to have used terms including “Auschwitz,” “yarmulke” and “rabbi” in its own plays for at least a decade, part of what an investigation revealed was a long history of antisemitic and homophobic behavior. That school’s football coach was also fired, and the state of Massachusetts soon passed new laws to require genocide education in high schools in response to that and other antisemitic school sports incidents in the state.

In recent months, Jewish high school sporting events in Miami and Los Angeles were home to alleged antisemitic taunts. Both were alleged to have come in response to antagonistic or even racist behavior by Jewish students, according to local reports.

Another high school in the Sacramento area is investigating reports that four students made Nazi salutes on social media earlier this month.

Antisemitism in the United States has risen significantly in recent years, with no signs of declining, according to a study by Tel Aviv University’s Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry and the US-based Anti-Defamation League. From 2021 to 2022, the number of antisemitic incidents rose by 35%.