ARE DREDLOCKS A DISTRACTION WHEN WRESTLING? OR IS THIS ANOTHER RACE ISSUE?
The referee who made a New Jersey high school wrestler cut his dredlocks right before a match in order to be allowed to compete has now been suspended from his position for two years.
This case has sparked the conversation on whether this is a situation based off of abuse of power, or of a cultural issue. The punishment against the referee, Alan Maloney was reached between the state’s Division on Civil Rights and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.
With this case coming to fruition, New Jersey has added new training for high school referees. “Student-athletes should be able to compete with each other on a level playing field,” New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a response to the case. “Racial discrimination in the enforcement of the rules of any sport is inconsistent with the spirit of fair play. The guidance clarifies that banning or restricting hairstyles that are associated with black people or those with black ancestry, including dreadlocks and twists, may violate New Jersey law.
Officials of the state athletics association said the new rules will help “ensure that a situation like this does not happen in the future.”
Maloney, the referee of the match, who is white, had told Johnson that his hair and headgear did not comply with rules and that if he wanted to compete, he would have to immediately cut his dreadlocks or forfeit the match. Johnson agreed to a haircut in the moments just before competing.