In order to help enforce an anti-bullying initiative that was enacted in the state, high school athletes in New Jersey who talk trash to their opponents will now risk being ejected from games. The state implemented a ban on taunts, profanity and biased language during refereed games earlier this month. As of Monday, 20 student-athletes had been disqualified from play.
The ban targets anyone who uses derogatory racial, ethnic, religious, or sexual slurs.
"We're trying to make a bold statement that there is no place for it," said Larry White, the assistant director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. "We're not accepting it [even] if the n-word is used between two kids of the same race on the same team. We're taking a stand."
Biased language "is not, and will not be tolerated in the classroom," White said. "Interscholastic sports is an extension of the classroom and thus that language must not be tolerated on the fields, on the courts, on the mats, on the rinks, wherever high school sports are played."
Craig Sashihara, the director of the state Division on Civil Rights, was interviewed about the policy shift. "Learning to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat are critical life lessons,” Sashihara said. "What we wanted to do was reshape the landscape of high school sports. We're simply saying don't allow the kids and fans to scream racial epithets to opposing players."
Theresia Wynns, the director of sports and officials education at National Federation of State High School Associations, believes other states could soon follow New Jersey’s lead.
"Other states are following it closely," Wynns said. "People are waiting to see what happens at the end of this year. It could definitely serve as a model."
New York is reportedly discussing a policy to ban trash talk on social media, Yahoo News reported.