An Ohio high school football coach and his seven assistants have been suspended after they forced a Jewish player to eat an entire pepperoni pizza as punishment. An attorney for the family of the unnamed 17-year-old player said that he went into the gym at McKinley High School on May 24 and was told he was being punished for missing a voluntary strength and conditioning practice four days earlier.
According to the Canton Repository, the teen skipped the session because he was nursing a minor shoulder injury he suffered in a previous practice.
When the player showed up for practice, his coaches made him sit in a chair in the middle of the gym and handed him an entire pepperoni pizza, and ordered him to eat it. The player refused, citing his religious beliefs against eating pork. Eventually, the coaches allowed him to pick off the pepperoni, but the teen continued to protest because the pizza still had pepperoni residue on it.
The coaches refused to relent and said that his teammates would have to do additional drills if he didn't eat the pizza.
The incident left the teen scarred, and he is now undergoing counseling. His family said they intend to sue the school district after officials failed to address the matter.
"We have asked them to talk with the coach," the family's attorney, Ed Gilbert, said, according to WKYC. "We've asked them to give an audience with us, and they have not done so. We would like to work this out, but they have chosen not to work it out. They have chosen not to speak to us, so we have no choice but to move forward in a court of law, and that will be very soon."
The Canton City School District said they are looking into the matter and will provide more details once their investigation is complete.
"Let us be clear, the Canton City School District holds all staff to the highest professional and ethical standards. Anything short of these standards is unacceptable," the district wrote on Facebook. "As educators, we are united in the pursuit of creating an inclusive and safe learning environment for our students in the classroom and beyond."