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Wimberly: “Every Student Athlete Deserves The Same Respect On And Off The Mat, Court And The Field.”

Assemblyman Issues Statement on NJSIAA Ruling on High School Sports Wrestling Incident

(TRENTON) – Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic) issued the following statement on today’s announcement of a ruling by NJSIAA on an incident involving a student wrestler at Buena High School who was forced to cut his hair in order to participate in the match:

“No athlete should be subjected to the level of humiliation and discriminatory practice Andrew Johnson experienced at his wrestling match. Sportsmanship and being a team player should never require an athlete to sacrifice his identity or cultural beliefs. This was a clear case of racial bias against a young African American athlete.

“Having been involved in similar racially motivated incidents in the past, Mr. Maloney’s penalty could have gone further than a two-year suspension. However, NJSIAA is taking the right steps by requiring sensitivity training and classes for all athletic professional staff.

“Anything we can do to increase cultural awareness and understanding among staff and athletes preventing similar incidents from ever occurring again, I’m on board. Every student athlete deserves the same respect on and off the mat, court and the field.

“This was an unfortunate incident but not the first we’ve seen; hopefully, we can discourage this type of behavior in the future.”

The Division on Civil Rights and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) reached an agreement today to suspend the referee involved for the next two wrestling seasons and require implicit bias training for officials and staff involved in high school athletics across New Jersey.