DUXBURY, Mass. (State House News Service) — On the same day Duxbury High School fired its head football coach, state Sen. Barry Finegold invited the varsity team to meet with him, as someone who is both Jewish and played football, after players used Holocaust-related terminology to call out plays on the field during a recent game.
Finegold played football at Andover High School and Franklin & Marshall College. He recalled a difficult conversation with his coach when he had to skip a game against Georgetown University because it conflicted with his observance of Yom Kippur.
"Given my background both on the football field and in my religion, I would like to offer a few thoughts to your team. Football has played an incredible role in my life and helped me become who I am today. I want that same continued opportunity for you as well. I'm not looking to villainize you; instead, I think this moment could be an important learning experience," Finegold wrote.
The invitation to meet was sent to the Duxbury superintendent of schools and the high school athletic director after reports of the team using play-calling signals like "Auschwitz" led to the firing of coach Dave Maimaron.
"I have heard a lot of line-of-scrimmage audibles, but I never heard anyone use 'Auschwitz' before," Finegold said. "I thought it might be productive to have an open conversation about the meaning of Auschwitz and why it was painful to hear that your team used Holocaust-related terminology on the field."
Senate President Karen Spilka, who is also Jewish, used the moment to call for passage of Sen. Michael Rodrigues's bill to promote the teaching of genocide history and human rights to middle and high school students.
"We need this to be more than just a 'teachable moment' - we need sustained, increased education - among administrators, educators, coaches, officials, referees and students - so that this never happens again," Spilka said on Twitter.
By Matt Murphy, State House News Service