Ohio football coach whose players labeled him ‘Nazi’ has resigned, but not for bad reasons: A high school football coach in Ohio says he was forced to quit by his school district and didn’t mean to hurt the other team’s players when he and his team used the word “Nazi” as a game call several times during a Sept. 22 game.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday, former Brooklyn High School coach Tim McFarland said he never meant to hurt anyone by using the term and that it “didn’t even occur” to him that it could be seen as racist.
But the team’s use of the word “Nazi” has been attacked for being racist, especially since the plays were called during a game against Beachwood High School, which is in a mostly Jewish neighborhood of Cleveland. McFarland’s lawyer, Peter Pattakos, objected to the idea that the word “Nazi” could be considered racist. He said that “Nazi” is a historical term, not an insult.
Ohio football coach whose players labeled him ‘Nazi’ has resigned, but not for bad reasons
Pattakos said that, in football, the word “Nazi” is often used to warn peers of what is called a “blitz.” He based this on a book from the 1990s written by an Ohio high school teacher. In a news release, Beachwood Schools Superintendent Robert Hardis and the Beachwood Board of Education said that McFarland’s comment “shows even more ignorance” and “makes a bad situation even worse.”
The Ohio High School Athletic Association said that it does not keep track of the names of certain plays or calls that high schools use, but that it is aware of the situation and that “offensive language has no place in sports at any level.” McFarland, who is 70 years old and has been a coach for 43 of those years, said that Brooklyn Schools asked him to quit and that he felt he had no choice.
Ted Caleris, who is in charge of schools in Brooklyn, didn’t say anything about McFarland’s remarks. He also said that when Beachwood officials told him about it right before halfway, he told his team to stop using the call. Both school systems made statements that back up what McFarland did. McFarland also said that he would apologize to any Beachwood players who might have been upset by the call.
But he said that Beachwood teachers told him that he didn’t have to. Both school districts said that they are currently working on a joint statement to the community about the game on September 22 and figuring out how to best focus on their kids.
Samantha Hendrickson works for the Statehouse News Initiative of the Associated Press and Report for America. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that puts reporters in local newsrooms to cover topics that don’t get enough attention.