The days of trash-talking on the field are now over for New Jersey's young athletes, after officials on Wednesday announced it has banned harassment in sports.
In announcing the new policy, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and the state attorney general's office said sports fall under the state's anti-bullying law for schools.
Athletes who talk trash or make harassing statements related to gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion could find their teams penalized and themselves under investigation by the state Civil Rights Division, the Associated Press reported.
Referees also would be required to discourage unsportsmanlike behavior and report incidents for investigation.
Triton High School football coach Pete Goetz supports the change but cautions against taking emotion out of the game.
"You can't expect kids to be robots," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "But I want kids to respect the game and what the game stands for. I like kids congratulating each other, showing team spirit, getting pumped up, but you can't take it too far."
New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman said in a statement: "High school sports should be about building character and instilling life lessons about grace, courage, teamwork, and adversity. Sometimes, we lose sight of those lessons on the field and in the stands. I thank the coalition for bringing the issue to our attention, and the NJSIAA for taking steps to address an important concern."
Tough talk is practically a birthright in the Garden State. Gov. Chris Christie seems to revel in verbal combat, and once told a former White House doctor to "shut up" for criticizing his weight.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.