A high school girls’ varsity basketball game in New York was abruptly ended after players yelled antisemitic slurs at the opposing Jewish team.
Roosevelt High School, a public school in Yonkers, competed against Leffell School, a private Jewish school in Hartsdale, in a non-league game last week. Robin Bosworth, a senior player at Leffell, revealed there was some hostility during the first half of the game, “with substantially more jabs and comments thrown at the players on our team than what I’ve experienced in the past.”
In the third quarter, injuries occurred due to what Bosworth described as the opposing team’s “physical style of play.”
The situation escalated as players from Roosevelt High School reportedly shouted “antisemitic slurs and curses,” including phrases such as “Free Palestine.”
Leffell’s head coach and team decided to end the game before the fourth quarter, according to the New York Post.
“I was so impressed with my teammates for coming together and deciding that we did not want to continue this game after the third quarter, as it no longer felt respectful as the other team did not show sportsmanlike conduct,” Bosworth wrote in the school’s paper. “Instead of responding to hatred with more of the same, we chose to separate ourselves from the situation and leave with dignity and pride in who we are and what we believe in.”
Before the game ended, security was seen stepping in between the opposing teams as the Roosevelt players continued to exchange words with the Leffell players from a distance, according to the Post.
The players were asked to shake hands before they were escorted out of the gymnasium by security.
“Despite our conflicting feelings about this practice, every member of my team acted with respect and class and lined up to shake their hands,” Bosworth wrote. “However, being forced to shake hands with and say ‘good game’ to people who had expressed such hatred did not sit right with me afterwards.”
“If a team shows blatant disrespect towards my team and our school community’s values, it should not be tolerated or forgotten immediately following the game.”
Yonkers Public Schools Interim Superintendent Luis Rodriquez and Mayor Mike Spano released a shared statement on Sunday condemning the incident.
“The Yonkers Public Schools along with the City of Yonkers sincerely apologize to the students and community of The Leffell School for the painful and offensive comments made to their women’s basketball team during a recent game with Roosevelt High School-Early College Studies,” they wrote.
“Collectively, we do not and will not tolerate hate speech of any kind from our students and community. The antisemitic rhetoric reportedly made against the student athletes of The Leffell School are [sic] abhorrent, inappropriate and not in line with the values we set forth for our young people.”
Yonker Public Schools also dismissed one coach and one player after reviewing video footage of the game and interviewing witnesses.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Rodriquez and Spano continued. “Should the District determine other students were involved in the incident, further action would be taken by the school District where appropriate.
“Along with Mayor Spano’s convening of religious, educational and civic leaders, Yonkers Public Schools also will administer further counseling and guided training sessions amongst the school community so to prevent this from happening again.”
Roosevelt High School agreed to voluntarily forfeit the game, and Principal Edward DeChent apologized for the action of his students.
Meanwhile, Leffell’s Head of School Michael Kay praised his students for their poise.
“I am incredibly proud of the manner in which our players and coaching staff responded to this potentially harrowing incident,” Kay said.