Young athletes in New Jersey better start holding their tongues.
A new policy announced by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) and the state Attorney General's office this week institues harsh punishments for high school athletes who are caught talking trash during competitions.
According to the Associated Press, athletes who make the mistake of talking trash could earn penalties for their teams and even find themselves under investigation by the state Civil Rights Division.
Harassment includes statements referencing gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion.
The new rule goes along with the state's anti-bullying efforts.
"High school sports should be about building character and instilling life lessons about grace, courage, teamwork, and adversity," New Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman said in a statement. "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.”
The policy, which will also be in place for supporters in the stands, goes into place in the fall.
"You can’t expect kids to be robots," Triton High School football coach Pete Goetz, who supports the new rule, 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."