Written by 4:28 am Uncategorized

Let’s stop racism at high school sporting events

Forget about Donald Sterling and his narrow-minded views. The Los Angles Clippers owner (or is it former owner now?) could give two hoots about North Jersey and cares even less what people around here think about him.

Yet all the recent water-cooler talk has centered around how proud people are of new NBA commissioner Adam Silver for hitting Sterling with a lifetime ban for his racist remarks secretly recorded and released publicly last weekend.

That’s great. I agree. Silver made the appropriate decision. The only decision.

But the important conversation this Sterling mess should create is how we can continue the fight against racism in our own back yard, against those who harbor misguided feelings of hate and anger for people not like them, who direct that filth at high school student-athletes, yet don’t suffer the same national indignity Sterling will endure the rest of his days.

What started as a national story about one sleazy businessman should kick-start a local conversation. Let’s put a stop to racism at high school sporting events forever.

Most of us remember what happened at the Bergen Catholic-Paramus Catholic Thanksgiving Day football game in 2012. If you don’t, the allegations against several BC fans included racially-charged remarks directed at PC players and coaches and handwritten T-shirts with inappropriate racial messages on them.

It was a black eye for the North Jersey sports community. But let’s not act like that was the first or only time. It certainly wasn’t.

Playing football and lacrosse at Montclair High School, we competed against many North Jersey teams, and on more than one occasion, as I walked into different stadiums flanked by my black teammates, racist vial was spewed in their direction from fans in the stands around us.

What’s the difference between those actions and Sterling’s? One person got caught. The others didn’t.

It’s time for every local sports fan to hold the fans around them accountable for those types of despicable actions. If you hear people make inappropriate comments, reprimand them. Tell them they’re wrong. Don’t sit idly by. Silence is support.

The NJSIAA took a positive step when it implemented a new sportsmanship rule last summer banning any harassment related to race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion or sexual orientation for fans and athletes. The rule is read to players before every game and was created as a direct response to what happened at the PC-BC game.

Now that’s water cooler talk to be proud of.

Email: guiffrab@northjersey.com

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