The Duxbury High football team, which used Holocaust and Jewish phrases during plays – such as “Auschwitz,” “rabbi” and “yarmulke” – violated several of the school district’s policies over the last decade.
That was the conclusion of an investigation into the incident, which was outlined in a summary of the report by Superintendent John Antonucci and posted to the school’s website on June 10. Read the report here.
According to the summary, the team has used antisemitic plays for at least a decade, used homophobic slurs and profanity on the sidelines, and regularly held a Catholic Mass before games for years, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, the Massachusetts Constitution and court rulings that preclude sectarian instruction in public schools.
The full report could not be released, Antonnuci’s summary said, because of privacy concerns under state law.
“Duxbury let their players and the community down by allowing winning games to take precedence over fostering an environment that is inclusive and free of bias, slander and stereotyping,” said Robert Trestan, Anti-Defamation League New England regional director. “Pre-game religious services violate Constitutional protections and ignore the power imbalance between students and their coaches. The systemic problem documented in the report confirms the need for institutional change. ADL is continuing to work with district officials as changes are implemented.”
The team’s use of the word Auschwitz made national and international headlines after it was first reported in March. Auschwitz-Birkenau was a Nazi death camp in Poland during World War II, where more than 1 million Jews were murdered – including at least 200,000 children. It was also a center of torturous medical “experiments” by Nazis that killed thousands.
The report was part of an investigation commissioned by the town after school officials learned that a Duxbury player had verbally called out a play termed “Auschwitz” in a March 12 game against Plymouth North. Later that month, the school district fired the football coach, Dave Maimaron.
The investigation was performed by Attorney Edward Mitnick of Just Training Solutions. The report was released to Antonucci, the school superintendent, on June 7 and a summary report was posted on the district’s website on June 10. The main report focused on the actions of players, coaches and the general culture of the football program. The report includes interviews with 52 witnesses, including current and former coaches, players, along with parents, teachers and administrators.
“The report itself is approximately 56 pages in length and includes detailed information of a highly personal nature relative to various individuals,” Antonucci wrote in the summary report. “Given the statutorily protected privacy rights of the various witnesses, participants, and staff members identified in the report, as well as the personnel record nature of the document, the following summary report has been prepared, relative to that portion of the investigation relating to the football program and constitutes the maximum disclosure we believe is possible under applicable state privacy laws.”
According to the report “there was sufficient credible evidence to conclude that offensive and inappropriate conduct occurred in violation of the School District’s Vision-Values-Mission-Goals Policy, Harassment Policy, and Staff Conduct Policy, as the result of antisemitic words and other references to the Holocaust by members of the football program.
“There was evidence suggesting that the use of this language was a systemic issue and had happened at practices potentially as far back as 2010. Sufficient credible evidence was found to support the conclusion that coaching staff were aware of the use of such terms during practices.”
The investigation determined that there was not sufficient credible evidence suggesting that these terms were used during games in prior seasons.
The report includes a section on “allegations pertaining to anti-Semitic slurs” and concluded that “it was uncontested during the March 12, 2021 football game between Duxbury and Plymouth North on March 12, 2021, an offensive lineman called out ‘Auschwitz’ to refer to a play/blocking scheme for the lineman.”
The report does not state when the team began to use the word “Auschwitz” in its play calling. But it did conclude that the team had been using the words “rabbi,” “dreidel,” “yarmulke” and “Hanukkah” in other plays going back as far as 2010. It also concluded that the coaches were aware of the names of the plays and stated that their actions in ending the use of the offensive terms were inconsistent with the district’s policies.
“The use of any religious, ethnic, racial, or sexual related term as an audible or a nickname can be deemed offensive to a reasonable person and give rise to actual acts of discrimination. The use of seemingly benign religious terms for plays and nicknames is no less appropriate than using words commonly associated with racial or ethnic cultures,” the report stated.
The report also found that coaching staff “engaged in profane and vulgar language and condoned the use of profane and vulgar language by students,” and that profanity was used on the sidelines, as well as homophobic slurs. In addition, the investigation determined that profane language was used as slogans by coaches and players, and sexually offensive jokes and innuendo were also used by coaches in front of players.
Also, the report determined that the team recited “The Lord’s Prayer” before games and held a team Mass at a Catholic church on the night before the annual Thanksgiving football game, in violation of the district’s Non-Discrimination Policy, Vision-Values-Mission-Goals Policy, Staff Conduct Policy and School Ceremonies and Observances Policy.
The report identified several “corrective actions” for the district to implement. They include reviewing its athletic program and its athletic program handbook, coaching evaluations, and business functions. In addition, an Athletic Advisory Committee has been established to review and make recommendations about the athletic program; some coaches have participated in diversity, equity and inclusion training program. Also, a group of coaches and players will take part in a training by Northeastern’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society.
After the incident, several members of Duxbury’s small Jewish community called for a transparent investigation after they learned that “Auschwitz” had been used as a play for the town’s football team. Many also said they were disappointed that the players did not apologize for their actions. While a few games were canceled, some residents were surprised when the season resumed in April.
“I am glad the school released a report about the Duxbury High School football team’s use of antisemitic terms. Emotions in the community are running high. I was surprised and disappointed to learn that religious prayers and attending Mass were blended into the culture of a public-school sports program. While participation was optional, it is very difficult for student-athletes to opt out of events that are meant to be team building,” said Karen Wong, a Duxbury resident who is one of an estimated 60 Jews in the small southern coastal town. “Since the public summary is only four pages of a 56-page report, I hope the School Committee reviews the full report in detail and takes appropriate action. Truth and accountability are essential.”