New Jersey high school athletes who talk trash could find their teams penalized and themselves under investigation by state officials.
In announcing the new policy, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and the state Attorney General's Office said it brings athletic events into line with the state's anti-bullying law for schools.
According to the policy, sports participants could be in trouble and under investigation by the state Civil Rights Division if they make harassing statements related to gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion.
Steven Timko, executive director of the agency, said in a statement that obscene gestures, profanity or "unduly provocative language or action toward officials, opponents or spectators" also won't be tolerated.
The new rules, which take effect in the fall, apply to athletes and coaches at the nearly 400 public, private and parochial high schools that belong to the NJSIAA.
Current rules stipulate that athletes or coaches cited by the NJSIAA before, during or after a school athletic event for unsportsmanlike and verbal or physical misconduct will be disqualified from at least the next game. The new policy requires the athletic association to report discriminatory conduct to the state attorney general.
Coaches will be responsible for reminding players about the trash-talking policy.
Referees would also be required to report incidents for possible further investigation. If discriminatory remarks are heard, they can assess immediate penalties.
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