Football controversy and a wealth of ignorance in Greenwich, Connecticut

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As someone who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, I am proud to say I defy every stereotype about this place. As someone who has lived in Greenwich for most of my life, I am also happy to say I defy the stereotypes about Greenwich residents.

I am not filthy rich. My family isn’t filthy rich, either. I don’t live in a McMansion. I don’t drive an SUV or crossover, or even a luxurious car. The only time I go overseas is to see family and I haven’t done so since 2015. I don’t work in New York City and I don’t have a house in the Hamptons.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

I am not a snob. I am not fake. In fact, you won’t find anyone more forthright, honest, or genuine than I am — if I do say so myself. What you see is what you get. And what you get isn’t always perfect. But for the most part, I’d like to think I’m a fairly decent person.

Having said all of that, perhaps you’ll understand why I’m not only ashamed of what’s been going on around here — I’m disgusted.

According to recent media reports, a Greenwich High School football coach decided to use some rather “unique” signals to counter certain defensive formations. Under his direction, the team used “Stalin” to signal an offensive line shift to the left, and “Hitler” to signal a shift to the right.

No, I’m not kidding.

In an open letter to the community recently posted on the school district’s website, the interim superintendent of schools said the following:

“The shift is called at the line of scrimmage. There is no defensible reason for using those two names. The coach clearly displayed bad judgement, but it was not intended in any way to be an anti-Semitic remark and there is no ‘Hitler’ play. This is not an excuse, only an explanation. It was a bad decision because of its insensitivity. But it is also important to understand that these were not slurs that were directed at anyone. It was an inappropriate use of names that have a horrific history attached to them and we should have been mindful of that. Our coaches should know better and it should never have happened.”

Understandably, the use of Hitler’s name spurred the most visceral reactions and received the most emphasis in Interim Superintendent Salvatore J. Corda’s public apology.

Frankly, as a first-generation American of Eastern European descent, I am outraged by the use of Stalin’s name. And no one has apologized to me.

For those of you who don’t know, Joseph Stalin was just as ruthless as Hitler. And just as evil. Although the exact numbers may never been known, some estimates indicate he may have been responsible for up to 20 million deaths from the time he seized power in the late 1920s until his death in 1953.

A brief summary of Stalin’s “achievements” on history.com includes the following:

“Stalin ruled by terror and with a totalitarian grip in order to eliminate anyone who might oppose him. He expanded the powers of the secret police, encouraged citizens to spy on one another and had millions of people killed or sent to the Gulag system of forced labor camps. During the second half of the 1930s, Stalin instituted the Great Purge, a series of campaigns designed to rid the Communist Party, the military and other parts of Soviet society from those he considered a threat.”

What’s even more disgusting than the repeated use of the names “Hitler” and “Stalin” by a high football team is the community’s reaction to the ensuing controversy on social media. You can read more about that here.

For people outside of Greenwich, it is simply a wealthy New York City suburb. But all this goes to show is that there’s a wealth of ignorance here, too.

And that’s a shame.

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