VPA institutes new policy for bias at high school games

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 5:06 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - After three recent incidents of racist or sexist incidents at Vermont school sports games, the Vermont Principals’ Association is changing policies to address the problem.

The Vermont Principals’ Association is now offering a third-party investigation option when inappropriate incidents such as racist or sexist situations occur at high school sports games when the results of investigations by schools are not agreed upon.

At a Winooski-Enosburg boys soccer game last month, a few Enosburg players were accused of racial statements. The Franklin Northeast Supervisory Union said their investigation turned up nothing, while Winooski is sticking with their players’ accounts.

Other incidents of Racial or Sexist comments occurred at two other games in the state since. “I think our kids now have a lot more feeling of empowerment. They are willing to speak up when they are being mistreated, which I think is a great thing,” said VPA president Jay Nichols. He says that these comments have always been present but now society has evolved to where they are not as commonplace and totally inappropriate. “We want kids to call out people who are saying things that are sexist to them or racist to them or attacking them for their religion or gender identity or whatever it might be.”

The third-party investigation would be paid for by both schools and the investigators would ideally have access to athletes, coaches, and spectators from both sides.

Enosburg has requested this third-party investigation while Winooski says they haven’t decided yet which way to go.

in addition to this process, the VPA is also instituting more bias training for officials, a statement to be read before games, and an online reporting system for incidents that occur at games. “So what can we do? Be proactive on trying to address these things, trying to stop them from happening, trying to provide education where we can, and then strong consequences where something that does happen and we can prove that it occurred,” Nichols said.

The Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s office is also now investigating an alleged head butt by a Winooski player at the game in September.

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