Ohio football coach whose team called ‘Nazi’ during game says he was forced to resign, no ill intent

Sep 28, 2023, 2:38 PM

BROOKLYN, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio high school football coach says he was forced to resign by his school district and intended no harm to opposing players after he and his team repeatedly used “Nazi” as a game call in a Sept. 22 match. In an interview with The Associated Press Thursday, former Brooklyn High School coach Tim McFarland said he never meant any offense by using the term and that it “didn’t even occur” to him that it could be taken as antisemitic But the team’s use of “Nazi” has been largely criticized as such, especially given that the plays were called during a game against Beachwood High School — a school based in a largely Jewish Cleveland suburb. Peter Pattakos, McFarland’s lawyer, balked at the idea of the word Nazi being deemed antisemitic and said it is a historical term, not a slur. Citing an Ohio high school coaching book from the 1990s, Pattakos said “Nazi” is often used in football to warn teammates of what is known as a “blitz.” Beachwood Schools Superintendent Robert Hardis and the Beachwood Board of Education said in a news release that McFarland’s statement shows he is “demonstrating further ignorance” and “succeeds in taking a terrible situation and making it worse.” The AP reached out to the Ohio High School Athletic Association on whether or not this term is still used but did not immediately receive a response. McFarland, who has been coaching for 43 of his 70 years of age, said he was asked to resign by Brooklyn Schools and felt he had no choice in the matter. Brooklyn Schools Superintendent Ted Caleris declined to comment on McFarland’s statement. He also said he ordered his players to stop using the call just before halftime, when Beachwood officials brought it to his attention. Statements from both school districts confirm McFarland’s actions. McFarland also said that he offered to personally apologize to any of the Beachwood players the call may have offended. But he said he was told by Beachwood coaches that it was not necessary.

Both the school districts said they are currently focused on a joint response to the community regarding the Sept. 22 game and determining how best to focus on their students. ___

Samantha Hendrickson is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues

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Ohio football coach whose team called ‘Nazi’ during game says he was forced to resign, no ill intent