Coach Dismissed After Team Uses Antisemitic Slurs in Basketball Game

Concern Grows Over Nationwide Increase in Antisemitic Acts.

by Nouman Rasool
Coach Dismissed After Team Uses Antisemitic Slurs in Basketball Game
© Jag_cz/YouTube

In a recent varsity basketball game in Yonkers, New York, a disturbing incident unfolded that has since reverberated beyond the bounds of sports. Robin Bosworth, a player from the Leffell School, a Jewish high school in Hartsdale, New York, encountered what she described as a "somewhat hostile environment" during a game against Roosevelt High School-Early College Studies.

The initial signs of tension, marked by increased physicality and verbal exchanges, soon escalated into something more concerning. In an op-ed for the Lion’s Roar, Leffell's student newspaper, Bosworth, who serves as its co-editor-in-chief, recounted the disturbing turn of events.

According to her account, players from Roosevelt High School began to use "Free Palestine" chants, accompanied by antisemitic slurs and curses directed at the Leffell team. This incident occurs in a context of heightened sensitivities, coming just months after a devastating conflict between Hamas and Israel, which not only caused significant loss of life but also ignited a spike in antisemitic and anti-Muslim incidents in the United States.

Responding swiftly to the incident, Yonkers Public Schools terminated Roosevelt’s coach and dismissed one of the players involved, denouncing their actions as "painful and offensive." New York Governor Kathy Hochul expressed her dismay over the incident on social media, emphasizing the inadmissibility of antisemitism and hate in New York.

Rising Antisemitic Incidents

The incident has drawn attention to a broader surge in antisemitic incidents across the United States, as reported by the Anti-Defamation League. This worrying trend has seen a significant increase in attacks, vandalism, and harassment against Jewish communities, prompting calls for urgent action from community leaders and public officials.

Yonkers Public Schools' interim superintendent, Luis Rodriguez, and Mayor Mike Spano issued a joint statement condemning the antisemitic rhetoric and reaffirming their commitment to intolerance towards hate speech. They extended an apology to Bosworth, her teammates, and the Leffell School community for the distress caused.

This incident underscores the ongoing challenge of combating hate speech and prejudice in various spheres, including sports. As investigations continue, involving referees, coaches, students, and officials, the community hopes for measures that not only address the immediate incident but also foster a more inclusive and respectful environment in the future.

Bosworth, through her op-ed, expressed a personal sense of violation due to the Israel-Gaza conflict's connection to the slurs, yet highlighted the importance of maintaining sportsmanship and respect, even in the face of disrespect.