Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

N.J. Bans Taunts, 'Trash Talk' in High School Sports

Trash talk is being taken out of New Jersey high school sports, pursuant to a new state policy that bans taunting in an attempt to curb bullying.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), along with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, announced the new policy last week. It prohibits high-school athletes from harassing others on the field or court, and takes effect this fall, reports the Associated Press.

Will this ban be the end of trash talking in New Jersey?

Ban on Trash Talk

In a press release, the NJSIAA explained that the ban on taunting in high school sports applies to public, private and religious schools.

The list of prohibited talk and behavior includes:

  • Obscene gestures;
  • Profanities;
  • Provocative language or action; and
  • Harassing conduct related to race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion.

These rules apply to both student athletes and coaches, and punishment for violating them can lead to disqualifying the individual from partcipating in the next game... and a possible civil rights investigation.

Move Toward Anti-Bullying

This move is part of a larger effort by the state of New Jersey to bring athletics in line with the state's anti-bullying laws for schools, reports the AP.

Passed in 2010, the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act requires each school to investigate and report incidents of harassment and bullying on and even off school grounds.

In the NJSIAA's press release, New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman said he hoped that the new ban would refocus high school sports on "building character" and "teamwork" for both student-athletes and those in the stands.

Trash Talking in Big Leagues

Although New Jersey is not the first state to integrate anti-bullying initiatives into sports, we may soon see this change rippling from high school sports to professional teams.

The NFL made it clear in April that it would not tolerate any sexual harassment or taunting based on sexual orientation either in the locker room or on the field, from either players or NFL coaches and recruiters.

With the trash talk ban set to take effect in a few months, referees will be ready to hand out yellow cards and file reports for potty-mouthed players.

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