A Massachusetts high school football team's use of "highly offensive language" during a game last week is under investigation, according to district officials.
The language was used as part of the Duxbury High School team's play-call system for adjusting plays on the field, according to a letter sent to the community from Duxbury Superintendent John Antonucci, Assistant Superintendent Danielle Klingaman and high school Principal James Donovan.
Some of the language in question had religious connotations, according to the administrators, who didn't say what the language in question was.
"While it was not directed at the opposing team or at any individual, there is simply no excuse for it," officials wrote. "Behavior that promotes anything less than full equity and inclusion is an attack on the core values of the Duxbury Public Schools and is inexcusable."
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The school officials said they "immediately launched" an investigation last week and have since decided to institute mandatory training for the team "in the near future."
"It is important to note that while the players clearly demonstrated poor judgment, the responsibility for this incident also lies with the adults overseeing the program," the letter reads. "In short, this was a systemic failure."
The play-call system was "immediately halted," officials said, citing the initial findings of the investigation, which is ongoing.
"In addition, although we are not at liberty to discuss personnel or student discipline matters, we are taking appropriate action in accordance with district policy," officials wrote. "It is also evident that education is needed for all members of the football program about the impact of the words we use on and off the field.
School officials will also conduct a review to determine how to integrate the "elements of diversity, equity, and inclusion" into all of the school district's athletic and co-curricular programs.
"Unfortunately, incidents such as these happen far too often, and we need to do better," officials wrote. "Words matter and ignorance can no longer be an excuse."
High school football is being played in the spring this year in Massachusetts after the fall season was pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic.