New Jersey Imposes Nation’s Toughest Trash Talking Rules

high-school-football-2The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletics Association (NJSIAA) has taken a bold step in curtailing high school sports taunting.

“Biased language.” That’s what New Jersey lawmakers are calling trash talking, which has always been a mainstay of high school sorts, and all sports for that matter. Recent heightened focus on bullying and cyberbullying, and the fact that trash talking can loosely be put into this category, could have been the catalyst for NJSIAA to putting the rules in place.

According to the NJSIAA’s policy, which is reported to be the toughest in the nation, on Dealing With Bias Incidents:

“…the principles of good sportsmanship are violated by “any person (athletic department, staff member, student athlete, or a fan or spectator associated with a member school) who engages in harassing, verbal, or physical conduct related to race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation”

Before each game, officials will read the following statement:

“There will be no tolerance for negative statements or actions between opposing players or coaches. This includes taunting, baiting, berating opponents or ‘trash talking’ or actions which ridicule or cause embarrassment to them. It also includes harassing conduct related to race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or religion. If such comments are heard, a penalty will be assessed immediately. We have been instructed not to issue warnings. It is your responsibility to remind your team of this policy.”

So, we now have a zero tolerance policy for trash talking, which will result in expulsion from the game and possible suspensions. While the policy appears to primarily focus on in-game incidents, a reading of the rules indicates that enforcement of the rule could extend to online activities by student athletes, particularly social media.

It’s no secret that high school athletes take to social media to promote their team and raise their profile, and do so most frequently on Twitter these days. These Big Men on Campus (and girls) are going to need to clean up their act if they don’t want to be watching their games from the stands.


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