New Policy Looks to Diminish Trash Talk in New Jersey High School Games

Published On June 21, 2013 | By Sarah Kirkpatrick

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) and the office of the Attorney General of New Jersey announced a new policy Wednesday that looks to eliminate trash talking in high school athletics.

The policy is outlined on the NJSIAA website:

Beginning this fall, the NJSIAA, which sets rules and regulations governing high school athletics, will enforce new rules that will make it clear that harassing conduct related to race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or religion is unsportsmanlike and will not be tolerated at high school events.

The new rules — which apply to all public, parochial, and private school members of the NJSIAA — also will require officials to report this conduct to the NJSIAA, which may investigate the incident and will, in turn, notify the state. If such comments are heard, officials can immediately assess penalties. Coaches will be responsible to remind their players about this policy …

Under NJSIAA sportsmanship rules, any student-athlete or coach who is cited before, during or after an interscholastic event for unsportsmanlike and flagrant verbal or physical misconduct will be disqualified from participating in the next two regularly scheduled events, or in the case of football, disqualified from the next game. Now, discriminatory conduct will also be reported to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and may result in further investigation.

These changes come as a result of New Jersey’s new Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act to eliminate harassment and bullying in schools.

It’s doubtful that “the days of taunting, baiting and trash-talking during high school sporting events are over,” as the release puts it. Trash-talking is simply a part of the game, even in high school, and it’s not going away any time soon. Athletes get caught up in the moment and tend to spew words that really lack any authenticity.

That doesn’t make the language acceptable in any way, of course, but it’s difficult to believe that implementing a consequence will magically make emotional responses go away. Eliminating in-game chatter is a wonderful idea in theory — it’ll just take quite a bit of time before it becomes effective.

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About The Author

Sarah is a Seattle native studying journalism at Boston University. She covers track and field, cross country and women’s hockey and is Sports Editor at The Daily Free Press, BU’s independent student newspaper. You can follow her on Twitter at @Kirkpatrick_SJ.