Nazi speech prompts apology

It was broadcast before start of N.C. high school soccer game

no sanctions yet against team

November 09, 2006|By McClatchy-Tribune

GASTONIA, N.C. -- A Nazi speech broadcast Saturday at the Forestview High School stadium in Gastonia resulted in an apology and a change in procedure for the public-address system, but no other sanctions so far against the boys' soccer team or any individuals.

A segment of a Nazi propaganda speech was played an hour before Forestview's playoff game against Charlotte Catholic on Saturday night. School officials said Tuesday that they had determined the speech was by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, not Adolf Hitler, as was first thought. They said two soccer players had downloaded the speech off the Internet and no adult heard the speech before it aired.

In a letter of apology to Charlotte Catholic written Monday, Forestview Principal Robert Carpenter said the students were copying the team slogan, "On to victory."

Carpenter wrote that a German exchange student had taught other students to say the phrase in German. A Charlotte Catholic player who speaks German said he heard Forestview players repeating the chant before the game, which Forestview won 1-0.

Students captured the slogan from the speech, Carpenter wrote, but also more than that phrase.

Gaston County Schools Superintendent Reeves McGlohon said Tuesday that no part of any Nazi speech should be played.

"In my opinion, either would have been inappropriate," he said. "Both represent Nazi Germany. The duration of what is said doesn't matter."

The N.C. High School Athletic Association has not decided whether Forestview will face sanctions.

"They will let us know about [self-imposed penalties] in writing," NCHSAA associate director Rick Strunk said. "We'll take that into consideration when we decide what else to do."

McGlohon said no school officials had been disciplined over the event, although a final decision had not been made. He said that the school officials in the press box Saturday night would not be allowed back there the rest of the soccer season.

Board of Education Chairman Kevin Collier said Tuesday evening that he hadn't been able to reach the superintendent to find out more about what had happened at the game.

"I'm a little a little distraught to learn of it in the paper and not hear about it from our people," Collier said.

No Forestview officials would comment about the incident Tuesday, and a reporter was not allowed on campus to interview players or other students.

Forestview coach David Shearer told The Charlotte Observer that school officials told him not to talk about the incident.

"I would love to testify on my behalf," he said.

Gaston County schools officials said the district would now require school personnel to hear any recording before it is played over the PA system. Previously, teams had brought recordings that were not screened.

Charlotte Catholic coach Gary Hoilett told the Observer on Monday that racial epithets were used by Forestview players during the game. But Gaston County school officials said that after interviewing 14 people, including coaches, officials and players, they did not find conclusive evidence of that.

The Holocaust and World War II are taught in Gaston County high schools in U.S. history courses, which are required in 11th and 12th grades, and in world history, an optional course offered in ninth through 12th grades.

McGlohon said he spoke to Charlotte Catholic officials and apologized Tuesday.

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