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Massapequa going to court over state's mascot directive

   Sept. 29, 2023: The issue of school mascots and nicknames remains unsettled now that a Long Island school district has followed through on its vow to challenge the New York State Board of Regents in court.

   The Massapequa school district has filed a lawsuit accusing the Board of Regents, which presides over New York's Education Department, of violating its constitutional rights by banning the use of its Native American mascot. The Regents passed a measure in April ordering schools to phase out the use of indigenous-related imagery.

   Massapequa's chief logo depicts a Native American in a feathered headdress. Nearly 60 schools across the state will have to change nicknames or mascots for the sports teams by the start of the next school year or risk losing state aid. The State Education Department could also remove school officers, including elected board members.

   Newsday reported the district's suit claims that the Board of Regents violated its First Amendment rights by banning school officials from wearing "Chiefs" apparel on school property. The filing also asserts that the ban is designated as a statute but is effectively a law, opening the door for the argument that it should have been passed by the state assembly and senate as a bill and signed into law by the governor.

   The Department of Education said it does not comment on pending litigation.

   Maine dealing with transgender controversy: A Google search for "Soren Stark-Chessa" as of early Friday evening produced zero instances of reporting unimpeded by emotion and opinion. That's pretty much a given when the issue revolves around transgender athletes, and I suspect a lot

more media outlets will be chiming in by the end of the cross country season.

   Stark-Chessa competed in cross country in Maine last season as a freshman boy but is competing this fall in the girls classes of meets. With the Maine XC Festival of Champions, the state's biggest regular-season invitational, on Saturday's calendar, plenty of eyes that usually focus on football or soccer will be scouring cross country results.

   Stark-Chessa will be running in the seeded section with the projected sixth-fastest time, setting the stage for a potential podium finish or even a victory that would undoubtedly generate a tidal wave of fresh media attention.

   Stark-Chessa attends the private Maine Coast Waldorf School in Freeport and won a recent five-kilometer race by 1:42 after faring no better than 14th in races against boys in 2022.

   Both the school and the teen are on form ground, at least for now. The Maine Principals Association handbook includes a "Gender Equity and Inclusion Policy" stating "all students should have the opportunity to participate in MPA activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, unless such participation would result in an unfair athletic advantage or would present an unacceptable risk of injury to other student athletes.”

   If Stark-Chessa consistently runs near the front of the pack, the MPA may be forced into a determination that the unfair athletic advantage exists, which will make the situation an even bigger story.

   A weak 'no harm intended' claim: An Ohio high school football coach says he intended no harm after he and his team repeatedly used "Nazi" as a play call in a Sept. 22 game against a school based in a largely Jewish Cleveland suburb.

   Brooklyn High coach Tim McFarland said he never meant any offense by using the term and that it "didn't even occur" to him that it could be taken as antisemitic. McFarland, 70, who has been coaching for 43 years, said he offered to personally apologize to Beachwood players but was instead forced to resign by Brooklyn High administrators.

   Peter Pattakos, McFarland's lawyer, told The Associated Press an Ohio coaching book from the 1990s, cites "Nazi" as a heads-up for an impending blitz. Unswayed, district Superintendent Robert Hardis and the school board issued a statement saying the coach was demonstrating "further ignorance" and "succeeds in taking a terrible situation and making it worse."

   Ohio High School Athletic Association officials issued a statement saying "offensive language has no place in sports at any level."

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  • 12/8/23: It's not Christmas but we have ties
  • 12/1/23: Bennett controversy takes unexpected turn
  • 9/29/23: Massapequa files lawsuit over mascot mandate
  • 9/26/23: Soccer association fitting refs with body cameras

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