Civil Liberties

New Jersey Just Banned Trash Talking in High School Sports


No ball jokes allowed.
Daniele Zanni

Starting this fall, high school students in New Jersey who taunt each other during games will be subject to investigation not only by the state's athletic association, but the state's government.

"The days of taunting, baiting and trash-talking during high school sporting events are over," reads a press release from the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). Thanks to collaboration between NJSIAA, the New Jersey Attorney General, and the New Jersey Civil Rights Division, "discriminatory conduct will also be reported to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and may result in further investigation."

Not everyone is as thrilled as the NJSIAA about this new encumbrance on youth games. According to the New York Post, administrators, coaches, and athletes question whether or not this is a practical or effective policy:

A top administrator from New York's Catholic High School Athletic Association says New Jersey's new initiative "seems like an overreaction."

 […] CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens president Ray Nash said… "Every time a kid trash talks there will be severe penalties? I don't know."

 Thomas Jefferson boys basketball coach Lawrence Pollard says those rules would be hard to enforce in the Public Schools Athletic League.

 "You would see a lot of technicals, a lot of ejections, because one thing about New York is there's a lot of friendly rivalries, so many schools close together and guys living in the same neighborhoods and projects," Pollard said.

Lincoln star Thomas Holley, an All-American defensive end and forward on the basketball team, says "it's sports – there's always going to be trash talking, no matter what." "Trash talking has been around forever," he said. "To try to get rid of it now, it doesn't make any sense."

The rule comes as a new addition to New Jersey's "Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights." The article cites the aid of the Coalition for Racial Equality in Education, which The Daily Caller points out is "mysterious umbrella group of organizations that promotes anti-discrimination initiatives in education and doesn't seem to have any web presence whatsoever."

The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, which came into force in 2011, already restricts what students are able to do and say. It prohibits:

"any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it be a single incident or series of incidents, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic…"

The policy covers not only school property, buses, and sponsored events, but also states that it even applies "off school grounds."