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Should More States Ban Trash Talking In High School Sports Like New Jersey Just Did?

Submitted by on June 24, 2013 – 1:15 pmOne Comment

If you play high school sports in New Jersey right now, your state has a very simple message for you: Shut up! No, really, be quiet. Recently, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association passed a new rule that makes trash talking during athletic competitions illegal. And if student-athletes do talk trash, they could earn penalties for their schools. It’s part of a state-wide initiative to try and curb the harassment that often takes place during NJ athletic events. It’s also an effort by the state to eliminate bullying of any kind.

“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 late last week. “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.”

Is banning trash talk a good idea, though? And should other states follow suit and banish it, too? The problem is that it’s going to be incredibly difficult to enforce the “no trash talking” rule. Specifically in sports like football and basketball, a lot of the trash talking that goes on is done quietly between players, at the bottom of scrums, and in situations where referees won’t always be able to police it. It’s also going to be difficult for state organizations like the NJSIAA to hand out penalties for it. And determining what those penalties should be will not be an easy task, either.

That doesn’t mean that states shouldn’t try to eliminate trash talking. It just means that they need to do more than just makes rules against it and threaten student-athletes with penalties. Instead, they should try to educate coaches more and push for schools to police trash talkers on their own. It seems like that would be a much more effective deterrent for trash talking and give student-athletes a reason to do their best to eliminate it.

But in the meantime, student-athletes in places like New Jersey are going to have to do their best to get out of the habit of talking trash. Because they’re only going to hurt themselves—and their schools—if they continue to engage in it. So shut up, guys. Shut up now.

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