- An Ohio high school student is suing his coaches for forcing him to eat pepperoni pizza.
- The student, who is Jewish, said consuming pork products went against his religious beliefs.
- Coaches allegedly forced him to consume a whole pizza with pepperoni residue as punishment for missing a workout.
An Ohio high school student is suing his former football coaches for allegedly forcing him to eat pizza with pepperoni on it, according to a lawsuit filed in North Ohio District Court.
The lawsuit, filed last week against the Canton City School District, the city’s school board and coaches, alleges that the student protested the consumption of pizza because the consumption of products and residues made from it pork goes against his religious beliefs. According to the lawsuit, the student converted to Judaism at the age of 10.
The student who lodged the complaint is not named, referred to only as “junior” and described as a high school student who is expected to graduate in June 2022.
In May, coaches demanded mandatory off-season training for all players. But Junior missed training “as a result of a minor shoulder injury sustained while lifting weights,” the lawsuit said.
During the next mandatory off-season training, Junior showed up and was approached by his coaches, who told him he would be “disciplined for missing the strength training program”, according to the complaint.
The coaches sat him on an “isolated chair that was placed in the middle of the gym floor,” the lawsuit says. They then “gave Junior a large pork pepperoni pizza and ordered Junior to eat the whole pizza as punishment for not showing up on May 20, 2021. Junior objected and called back. [the coaches] that he does not eat pork, because of his religious beliefs.
He also kicked her in the pizza box, which the complaint claims was captured by a video camera.
The coaches went to get the pizza box and brought it back, again insisting that he eat it. Junior refused to do it “at least ten times”, and the coaches then said he could remove the pepperoni. But even without the pepperoni, the pork residue still coated the pizza, according to the lawsuit.
Then the coaches gave him an ultimatum: eat the pizza or potentially be kicked off the football team, according to the lawsuit. Meanwhile, the other players were running around the gym, unable to stop until Junior had finished the pizza.
“Junior, against his religious beliefs, was forced to eat the pork fat pizza. Immediately afterwards, Junior was punished even more by [the coaches] and was forced to run on the football field, ”says the lawsuit.
Forcing football players to eat food as a punishment is common practice, the lawsuit says. The coaches themselves said “that they have previously and regularly punished their soccer players by asking them to eat various products for breaking the rules and regulations of the soccer team,” according to the complaint.
Prior to the alleged incident, Junior made it known at team lunches and dinners that he would not be able to eat pork at the events and that he needed alternative food options, according to the lawsuit. He also says he filled out several forms listing his dietary restrictions.
The coaches were fired in June, according to the lawsuit.
The student is claiming $ 10 million in damages, saying he “was subjected to threats and mockery from his teammates and the general public” and “was forced to enroll in a other school and football program ”due to safety concerns.
The Canton City School District did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.