Alaska School Activities Association (or ASAA) is the governing body that oversees high school sports across the state.
We recently published a story detailing a new “hate speech” proposal which it will consider at its Feb. 22 and 23rd meeting.
The basic idea is to prohibit (and ultimately punish) athletes who use certain words which other students find offensive.
The plan is to impose “severe consequences” on anyone who uses speech or behavior aimed at another person’s sex, gender identification, sexual orientation, race, religion, creed, age, national origin, ancestry, pregnancy, marital state, parental status or disability – IF – those words create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
Practically speaking officials would be required to immediately eject anyone who runs afoul of the policy. If a ref fails to hear an offending comment, the students are urged to quickly alert their coaches, point out the person who belittled them, and recount exactly what they found hurtful.
The proposal then instructs officials, coaches and administrators to investigate the incident. Any student deemed guilty would be banned from competition until they were properly reformed via a training course on how to refrain from offending others.
So, what’s the problem here?
First, the ASAA plan is extremely vague. How exactly are students to know whether someone will be “substantially” triggered, intimidated or offended by a reference to one of the protected classifications?
It’s also arbitrary – banning comments about certain characteristics like sexual orientation, gender identity and national origin – but offering no similar protections for students who may feel self-conscious about their weight or some other bodily characteristic.
Ultimately, this policy draft encourages students to brandish their emotional feelers and tattle at the slightest word or phrase which might be construed as offensive. What was once considered harmless banter between competitors could be severely punished on the altar of wokeness.
To be clear, all players should be expected to exhibit honor, sportsmanship and respect for opposing players. But this can be accomplished – and has been for generations – without stoking hypersensitivity with boiler-plate identity politics.
Let’s face it, competition is, at times, intimidating and nerve-wracking. It’s a microcosm and preparation for the arena of life.
Countless young men and women have learned invaluable lessons from hard fought contests with archrivals. And, yes, sometimes words are exchanged in the heat of battle.
That doesn’t mean we should allow woke identity politics to poison the playing field by turning every player into a thin-skinned tattletale.