A high school football player is suing the Canton City School District in Ohio for $4 million (though some outlets are reporting 10) after he was allegedly forced to eat an entire pizza as punishment for missing a practice.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in the Ohio Northern District Court, the student referred to as “Junior” is suing his coaches, the Canton City School District, and the city’s board of education for the incident which took place in May. Junior was a senior expected to graduate in 2022 at the time.
Last May, his coaches announced an off-season workout program that all players were required to attend, but Junior neglected to show up to the first session because of a “shoulder injury sustained while lifting weights,” according to the lawsuit.
When he made it to the next mandatory workout, Junior was told he’d be “disciplined” for missing the first practice. The court docs allege a “lone chair that was placed in the middle of the gymnasium floor” and the coaches “gave Junior a large pork pepperoni pizza and ordered Junior to eat the entire pizza as punishment for failing to appear.”
What makes this punishment so grotesque is that Junior converted to Hebrew Israelism when he was 10, so eating pork is against his religious beliefs. According to the suit, before this incident, the student had made it known to the team that he was unable to eat pork and required alternative food options at luncheons and dinners. He also filled out several forms listing his dietary restrictions, so this shouldn’t have been news to his coaches.
Worse, to set an example, the adults allegedly ordered the rest of the team to run laps around the gym until Junior was done with the pizza. The teen claims that he initially kicked away the box, a move that was captured in a video, but the coaches just handed it to him again, giving him an ultimatum: eat the entire pizza or get kicked off the team. WTF?!
Junior proceeded to protest a “minimum of ten times,” but the only thing his coaches agreed to was to let him remove the pepperoni from the pizza, although its grease remnants remained. The lawsuit continued:
“Junior, against his religious beliefs, was forced to eat the pork grease pizza. Immediately after, Junior was punished further and was forced to run up and down the football field.”
Because of the ordeal, Junior alleged “became the subject of threats and ridicule from his teammates and the general public,” which forced him to “enroll in a different school and football program” out of fear for his safety! His coaches were fired in June, and now face this $10 million litigation.
According to the lawsuit, this was far from the first time the coaches inflicted these strange punishments on their students. They “previously and routinely punished their football players by requiring them to eat miscellaneous products for breaking rules and regulations of the football team.” It’s unclear if this is the reason the coaches were fired, but it seems likely. The Canton City School District has yet to speak out about their legal troubles.
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