Boston’s Catholic Memorial has reportedly decided to ban its students from a semifinal game Monday after an anti-Semitic chant marred its game Friday against Newton North, but that the team will be allowed to play.
The decision was made by the school.
In a statement, the school said: “After consultation with the administration of Newton North High School, Catholic Memorial has decided that the varsity basketball team will take part in the MIAA Division 1 semifinal contest tonight out of respect for the players and coaches who would like to finish what they have worked so hard for.”
As reported by USA TODAY Sports and elsewhere around the country, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association boys basketball playoff game descended into a culturally insensitive farce.
Students and fans from Catholic Memorial — an all boys Catholic school in West Roxbury — and Newton North became embroiled in nasty hate chants, eventually leading to the Catholic Memorial fans chanting “You killed Jesus!” at the fans for Newton North, many of which are of the Jewish faith. The antisemitic chant was allegedly inspired by a chant of “sausage fest,” among others, from Newton North fans.
Newton superintendent David Fleishman contacted the New England Anti-Defamation League about the incident over the weekend, with the linguistic brouhaha to be discussed internally at the school on Monday. Meanwhile, Catholic Memorial officials wasted no time in offering an apology the actions of its students. Here’s the official statement released by Catholic Memorial President Peter Folan.
Catholic Memorial School is deeply disturbed by the behavior of a group of student spectators who made an unacceptable chant Friday night while playing Newton North High School.
CM faculty and staff acted immediately to stop the behavior. Administrators from both schools and representatives from the MIAA discussed the incident. At the conclusion of the game, CM students were reprimanded and each student personally apologized to the Principal of Newton North High School and shook his hand before leaving the arena.
We have been the subject of hurtful chants as well and we will work diligently within our own community and with other schools to end this abhorrent behavior. Catholic Memorial School believes deeply that intolerance, of any kind, is unacceptable. We apologize for the actions of our students and we will continue to strenuously address this issue within our community.
While it appears that students from both schools have already been dealt with and multiple sources on the scene reported that Catholic Memorial fans involved in the chant were forced to go and apologize to Newton North individually after the game — that doesn’t obscure the bad judgment and feelings brought on by the anti-Semitic chants.
To its credit, Catholic Memorial has since released plans to both alter its curriculum and hold a series of educational student assemblies to educate students and use the playoff incident as a teaching moment for the school.
Specifically, Catholic Memorial is planning to discuss how these actions can be deeply hurtful. Further, the school reached out to the Anti-Defamation League for advice on how best to educate its students about anti-Semitism, the Boston Globe reported.
Newtown North also had said it is planning to address the issue Monday, with the principal expected to address all students over the loudspeaker to begin the school day.
Using the ugly incident as a teaching moment is a valuable tool, and also speaks to the Catholic diocese of Boston’s determination to keep similar actions from popping up again in the future. If nothing else, they’ll ensure that students think much longer and harder before they consider employing a similarly insensitive chant again anytime soon.