Sports

NJSIAA Confirms Investigation of 'Racist' Banana Incident At High School Football Game

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ROBBINSVILLE, NJ -- The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) confirmed today that it is investigating allegation of racist taunting at a high school football game in Summit last Saturday. TAP into North Plainfield was the first media outlet to report the incident, which involved unknown people shoving bananas into the visitors locker room as the North Plainfield Canucks football team prepared for the game.

The NJSIAA is working with both schools and football teams, as well as speaking with officials who worked the game.

"Once the NJSIAA has gathered and reviewed sufficient additional information," said NJSIAA President Steve Timko. "It will have the option of referring the matter to its Controversies Committee for additional investigation."

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People familiar with the incident have stated that one or more banana peels were left in the visitor's locker room prior to the North Plainfield team's arrival, and that a number of bananas were later shoved one by one through a hole in a door as the Canucks prepared for the game..  

As a matter of policy, the NJSIAA will forward the incident to the Division on Civil Rights in the Attorney General's office once reports have been received from both schools.

The NJSIAA says in its statement that it learned of the incident from news reports Monday evening, although North Plainfield Assistant Superintendent Dr. Robert Rich told TAP into North Plainfield early Monday afternoon that he and the Summit School District had contacted the association.

"I have been working on the investigation of the incident with our staff and the Summit Superintendent," stated Rich. "The incident has been turned over to New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) for an independent investigation."

In 2013 the NJSIAA entered into an agreement with the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General to investigate all bias incidents alleged to happen at sanctioned sporting events or with NJSIAA teams.  This is in addition to previous bans on fans, staff, players or officials inciting violence or abuse, or using profane or offensive language.  

The NJSIAA is the first scholastic athletic association in the country to implement such a ban on bigotry during events.

The FAQ for the policy states:

What is new is that the NJSIAA is telling coaches, players, and officials that provocative language aimed at a player’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability or sexual orientation, is every bit as unsportsmanlike as obscene or profane language.  Race-baiting, ethnic slurs, and taunting crosses the line and will not be tolerated on the playing field just as it is not tolerated in the classroom. 

Officials that witness a bias incident at a game are authorized to disqualify a player or coachimmediately, and must report the incident even if there is no disqualification to the NJSIAA.  

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