Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ross And Committee Can Take A Cue From The NJSIAA

Near the end of Ross' statement regarding the Wells Report, he states that a new series of initiatives will be announced next week with the goal of elevating mutual respect between all athletes at all levels in all sports.

Ross says he has consulted with the NYU School of Law, the NYU Center for Sports and Society as well as the Jackie Robinson Foundation for ideas to address his concerns about conduct in sports.

Ross should be commended for this proactive approach to solve the "Bullygate" issues prior to the Wells Report even being released.

Ross further states that he has contacted other experts for their ideas as well.

Hopefully, he reached out to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association for their input.

The NJSIAA is the governing body for High School sports in New Jersey. Not only do they conduct State Tournament Championships for all sports but they also handle all sportsmanship issues regarding disqualifications and penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct and fighting.

Starting this year, the NJSIAA instituted a new policy regarding conduct of member schools, coaches and players. In essence, they took the State Anti-Bullying Law which applies to all in-school functions and extended it to all extracurricular activities that they govern.

Prior to this, Officials would report any unsportsmanlike conduct to the NJSIAA and any disqualified coaches or players would have to sit out their next two games as a penalty. Now the penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct have even more bite.

Prior to each athletic event including varsity and subvarsity teams, the head coaches and captains meet with the officials and this statement is read:

"There be no tolerance for negative statements or actions between opposing players and coaches.

This includes taunting, baiting, berating opponents, "trash talking", or actions which ridicule or cause embarrassment to them.

Any verbal, written or physical conduct related to race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion shall not be tolerated, could subject the violator to ejection and may result in penalties being assessed against your team. If comments are heard a penalty will be assessed immediately.

We have been instructed not to issue any warnings. It is your responsibility to remind your team of this policy."

If any disqualified person's actions warrant it, the NJSIAA must report the violation to the State Attorney General's Office.


As a 24 year veteran of high school football officiating, I have seen how much bite this new policy has.

15 years ago, we only had ejection from the current game as a penalty so coaches and players would act up as soon as the game got out of reach.

Then the NJSIAA instituted the 2 game disqualification penalty and that cut down big time on all the bull crap.

But this new policy and its requirement of reading the warning before each game has been very effective.

I have only heard of one instance of unsportsmanlike conduct regarding anti-bullying where one player called another a "faggot" and that player was ejected immediately and reported to the NJSIAA.

Whether the NJSIAA forwarded that player's name to the State Attorney General's Office, I do not know.

But with the threat of police action and those consequences of being arrested included, having only one instance that I have heard of is truly amazing.

I think that is were the new player, coach conduct policies need to go. The NFL will assign a compliance officer to each team's locker rooms and practice facilities to report directly to the commissioner's office.

Break these new rules and you are then reported immediately to your State Attorney General's Office.

Nobody will say or do anything after that. Who needs that on their record.

Phins Up!!!

Carl Leone
Dolfan since 12/25/1971
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