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‘Racial taunts’ prompt new, required announcement before games

High School Sports

OSAA: People who engage in derogatory behavior could be banned from future events

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Students, coaches and spectators will hear a new message before high school sporting events this year in Oregon.

The Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) has added a required pre-contest public announcement, as well as some announcements to be made throughout the game, as a result of several incidents during the past year where racial slurs and taunts were reported to have been directed at student athletes.

The required announcement asks the audience to “model good sportsmanship by refraining from derogatory cheers, chants or behavior toward students, coaches, officials, or other spectators. Any verbal, written or physical conduct relating to race, gender, age, color, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion will not be tolerated.”

The announcement goes on to state that violators could be removed from the event and banned from attending future events. The violator’s school could also be penalized. The announcement goes on to encourage other participants and spectators to “speak out if you see inappropriate behavior by immediately notifying event management staff.”

OSAA suggests that the announcement be made after the national anthem. The association also offered up six other announcements that could be made throughout the game, near the end of the game, and “when the crowd is acting up.”

The announcement was given to school superintendents in August, on the heels of House Bill 3409’s easy journey through the Oregon Legislature. The bill requires that, for a school to join an organization like the OSAA, the organization must have “policies that address the use of derogatory or inappropriate names, insults, verbal assaults, profanity or ridicule that occurs at an interscholastic activity, including by spectators of the interscholastic activity.”  

“These actions are simply unacceptable.”

In an op-ed posted on OSAA’s website in June, OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber and other education leaders wrote about an incident in January where the Parkrose High School girls varsity basketball team said they were “subjected to racial taunts and monkey noises from three individuals in the bleachers” during an away game.

The op-ed goes on to say, “the problem is widespread across Oregon. This year alone reports of racial slurs and taunts aimed at African-American, Latinx, and Native American students have been reported in several communities. Students of color and their families have been made to feel unsafe, unwelcome, and harassed at school sponsored events. … These actions are simply unacceptable.”

KOIN 6 reached out to OSAA for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

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