TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Watch your mouth!
New Jersey high school athletes who talk trash could find their teams penalized and themselves under investigation by the state Civil Rights Division.
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and the state Attorney General’s Office announced the new policy on Wednesday.
They say it brings athletic events into line with the state’s anti-bullying law for schools.
Some young people say trash-talking is just part of the game.
“You say something, and somebody says it back and you people may get upset,” high school soccer player Jane Matson told CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco on Thursday.
“Where you just try to get into each other’s heads because you’re just trying to get into the moment,” cross country runner Chris Fuksman added.
The sports policy goes into place this fall.
The new policy is not aimed at stopping student athletes from saying things like “I’m better than you,” WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported.
“This is more when it’s starting to get to be tremendously offensive in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation,” New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association Assistant Direction Larry White told Putney.
The policy will also be in place for spectators in the stands.
“That’s been there. I guess it’s just now, we’re going to ratchet it up a little bit more,” said White.
“We are getting tougher in all forms of discrimination and, so I think it’s just following suit,” said North Jersey Football Association referee Frank Valenzano.
Participants could be in trouble if they make harassing statements related to gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion. Referees would also be required to report incidents for possible further investigation.
At least one school official is on board with the new policy.
“If it’s out there and you set a standard and you heighten the awareness of the consequences of it, I really believe that athletes will keep themselves from getting involved in any type of trash talking/bullying,” Dr. Theodore F. D’Alessio, Millburn H. S. Director of Athletics, told 1010 WINS.
Parents like Javier Fernandez said they hope the enforcement will teach teens an important lesson.
“If they trash talk on the field, they’ll do it outside the field. It’s a lesson that will carry them through life,” Fernandez told CBS 2’s Carrasco.
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