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ESPN reporting on wrestling referee incident

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Hear from some of the kids on the team...
 

Buena senior 138-pounder Luke Souder, said he didn’t see it as a racist act.

“It’s just a rule. His hair was too long and that’s what happened,” said Souder, who is white. “If my hair was too long it would have been cut too. That’s a rule. It’s a real rule.

“We know that it wasn’t anything that was that big of a deal. He didn’t have the cap that attaches. I guess he didn’t know he had to have one. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just a rule.”

Souder said the team has been entertained by the media exposure and that he was shocked it has drawn so much attention.

“The next day (after the video went viral) someone said it (had become a national story) and I thought they were joking,” said Souder, who added Johnson just wants the attention to go away. “I was like ‘No way.’ My whole school was like ‘Oh my gosh, he had to cut his hair,' but no one in the gym was like ‘This is racist.’ Everybody was like ‘Oh crap he’s got to cut his hair to help the team.’ He did something to help the team and that’s the story there really. He did something to help the team out.”

Senior 182-pounder Jaden Roberts, who is black, said he was upset for Johnson but didn't think it was a racially-motivated decision either.

"It was just a rule and he did what he had to do for the team," said Roberts. "It was handled perfectly fine. No matter what color skin you are you have to follow the rule and that's what happened. Drew did what he had to do for the team. He made the decision."  

whole article:

http://highschoolsports.nj.com/news/article/-3341302530425508370/dreadlock-cutting-decision-defended-at-tourney-as-buena-returns-to-wrestling/

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I like your post Russel and agree with pretty much everything you have to say. I believe the media reporting on this (and even JB to a large degree) presented information very irresponsibly on this topic and left key information out. It has been discussed in the other thread on this, but if this does invite a re-writing of the rules then I am okay with that potentially as long as the new rules make sense for the landscape of the sport. My biggest issue with the whole affair is bringing in the idea of racism to a conversation where it doesn't seem to have any place. Maybe this ref is a PoS outside of this incident, and I certainly don't condone that one bit, but following and enforcing the rules is his job as an official so in this instance I just do not see it.

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13 minutes ago, vsnej said:

 

Senior 182-pounder Jaden Roberts, who is black, said he was upset for Johnson but didn't think it was a racially-motivated decision either.

"It was just a rule and he did what he had to do for the team," said Roberts. "It was handled perfectly fine. No matter what color skin you are you have to follow the rule and that's what happened. Drew did what he had to do for the team. He made the decision."  

 

This needs to be repeated over and  over again. No one put a gun to the kids head and made him cut his hair. He mad a conscious decision for the betterment of the team and should be commended for his sacrifice, not made out to be some victim of some kind of social injustice.

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8 hours ago, vsnej said:

Hear from some of the kids on the team...
 

Buena senior 138-pounder Luke Souder, said he didn’t see it as a racist act.

“It’s just a rule. His hair was too long and that’s what happened,” said Souder, who is white. “If my hair was too long it would have been cut too. That’s a rule. It’s a real rule.

“We know that it wasn’t anything that was that big of a deal. He didn’t have the cap that attaches. I guess he didn’t know he had to have one. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just a rule.”

Souder said the team has been entertained by the media exposure and that he was shocked it has drawn so much attention.

“The next day (after the video went viral) someone said it (had become a national story) and I thought they were joking,” said Souder, who added Johnson just wants the attention to go away. “I was like ‘No way.’ My whole school was like ‘Oh my gosh, he had to cut his hair,' but no one in the gym was like ‘This is racist.’ Everybody was like ‘Oh crap he’s got to cut his hair to help the team.’ He did something to help the team and that’s the story there really. He did something to help the team out.”

Senior 182-pounder Jaden Roberts, who is black, said he was upset for Johnson but didn't think it was a racially-motivated decision either.

"It was just a rule and he did what he had to do for the team," said Roberts. "It was handled perfectly fine. No matter what color skin you are you have to follow the rule and that's what happened. Drew did what he had to do for the team. He made the decision."  

whole article:

http://highschoolsports.nj.com/news/article/-3341302530425508370/dreadlock-cutting-decision-defended-at-tourney-as-buena-returns-to-wrestling/

Interesting article - good to see these Buena wrestlers aren't jumping to an emotional conclusion that this incident was necessarily motivated by racial animus.  

Edited by HurricaneWrestling2

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"In particular, they seek to eliminate any interpretation of Rule 4.2.1 that allowed wrestling officials to determine that traditionally black hairstyles were 'unnatural' or to subject wrestlers with traditionally black hairstyles to differential treatment as to when a haircover was required."

https://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/27645284/ref-made-wrestler-cut-locks-banned-2-years

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2 hours ago, jon said:

"In particular, they seek to eliminate any interpretation of Rule 4.2.1 that allowed wrestling officials to determine that traditionally black hairstyles were 'unnatural' or to subject wrestlers with traditionally black hairstyles to differential treatment as to when a haircover was required."

https://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/27645284/ref-made-wrestler-cut-locks-banned-2-years

 

From last season's rules:

 

Rule 4-2-1:  During competition, all wrestlers shall be clean shaven with sideburns trimmed no lower than earlobe level and hair trimmed and well groomed.  The hair, in its natural state, shall not extend below the top of an ordinary shirt collar in the back; and on the sides, the hair shall not extend below earlobe level; in the front, the hair shall not extend below the eyebrows.    

[emphasis mine]

Source:  2018-19 NFHS Wrestling Rules Book

 

4.2.1 Situation E:  Wrestler A appears at weigh-ins with hair in tight cornrows.  After making the prescribed weight, the wrestler indicates no desire to undo the hair, as it takes time and is expensive to have performed.   RULING:  This is permissible if the hair is covered by a legal hair cover that is attached to the ear guards.  COMMENT: A legal hair cover is intended to allow a wrestler to compete with hair longer than permitted by rule.  A referee cannot assume the hairstyle meets the prescribed rule, therefore should a wrestler choose not to meet the rule, a legal hair cover attached to the ear guards shall be required and approved at weigh-ins.

 [emphasis mine]

Source:  2018-19 NFHS Wrestling Case Book

 

 

 

I hate to beat a dead horse, but It seems that the whole thing boils down to what the term "natural state" is supposed to mean.  

Up till now, I have assumed that it meant the hair could not be manipulated in a manner such as braiding or pinning or banding, and then gravity would determine whether the hair went below the collar, earlobe, or eyebrows.

Per 4.2.1 Situation E, in the NFHS Wrestling Case Book, this seems to be the case, indicating that the hair had to be inspected WITHOUT it being manipulated, and that the cornrows described in Situation E had to be undone in order for proper inspection of hair length.  

Hence, according to the interpretation above, Andrew Johnson's hair was NOT in its natural state because it was braided/dredlocked, and therefore had to have a legal hair covering (which he did not have).  And hence, Alan Mahoney's application of the rule was indeed correct.  

Yet the New Jersey DCR states that "In particular, they seek to eliminate any interpretation of Rule 4.2.1 that allowed wrestling officials to determine that traditionally black hairstyles were 'unnatural' or to subject wrestlers with traditionally black hairstyles to differential treatment as to when a haircover was required."

But the above rule and its case book application, which were the rule at the time of last December's incident, make NO mention of the race of the wrestler, just that the hair was not in its natural, unmanipulated state!

Does anyone here have any better insight as to what "natural state" refers to beyond what is stated in the rules?  It seems they just threw the official under the bus for doing his job.  

 

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2 hours ago, Sheerstress said:

 

From last season's rules:

 

Rule 4-2-1:  During competition, all wrestlers shall be clean shaven with sideburns trimmed no lower than earlobe level and hair trimmed and well groomed.  The hair, in its natural state, shall not extend below the top of an ordinary shirt collar in the back; and on the sides, the hair shall not extend below earlobe level; in the front, the hair shall not extend below the eyebrows.    

[emphasis mine]

Source:  2018-19 NFHS Wrestling Rules Book

 

4.2.1 Situation E:  Wrestler A appears at weigh-ins with hair in tight cornrows.  After making the prescribed weight, the wrestler indicates no desire to undo the hair, as it takes time and is expensive to have performed.   RULING:  This is permissible if the hair is covered by a legal hair cover that is attached to the ear guards.  COMMENT: A legal hair cover is intended to allow a wrestler to compete with hair longer than permitted by rule.  A referee cannot assume the hairstyle meets the prescribed rule, therefore should a wrestler choose not to meet the rule, a legal hair cover attached to the ear guards shall be required and approved at weigh-ins.

 [emphasis mine]

Source:  2018-19 NFHS Wrestling Case Book

 

 

 

I hate to beat a dead horse, but It seems that the whole thing boils down to what the term "natural state" is supposed to mean.  

Up till now, I have assumed that it meant the hair could not be manipulated in a manner such as braiding or pinning or banding, and then gravity would determine whether the hair went below the collar, earlobe, or eyebrows.

Per 4.2.1 Situation E, in the NFHS Wrestling Case Book, this seems to be the case, indicating that the hair had to be inspected WITHOUT it being manipulated, and that the cornrows described in Situation E had to be undone in order for proper inspection of hair length.  

Hence, according to the interpretation above, Andrew Johnson's hair was NOT in its natural state because it was braided/dredlocked, and therefore had to have a legal hair covering (which he did not have).  And hence, Alan Mahoney's application of the rule was indeed correct.  

Yet the New Jersey DCR states that "In particular, they seek to eliminate any interpretation of Rule 4.2.1 that allowed wrestling officials to determine that traditionally black hairstyles were 'unnatural' or to subject wrestlers with traditionally black hairstyles to differential treatment as to when a haircover was required."

But the above rule and its case book application, which were the rule at the time of last December's incident, make NO mention of the race of the wrestler, just that the hair was not in its natural, unmanipulated state!

Does anyone here have any better insight as to what "natural state" refers to beyond what is stated in the rules?  It seems they just threw the official under the bus for doing his job.  

 

Most people in NJ know that he was just enforcing a rule and was known as a ref that didn’t let things slide , but the powers that be in NJ are more about headlines and appeasing the civil rights commission which got involved the day after the incident. So pretty much because of his prior history he got railroaded and they are changing the rule interpretation so they can save face because this whole ordeal was a joke and waste of time. 

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26 minutes ago, Antitroll2828 said:

Most people in NJ know that he was just enforcing a rule and was known as a ref that didn’t let things slide , but the powers that be in NJ are more about headlines and appeasing the civil rights commission which got involved the day after the incident. So pretty much because of his prior history he got railroaded and they are changing the rule interpretation so they can save face because this whole ordeal was a joke and waste of time. 

Assuming you are right, he should have no problem winning a lawsuit against the government for wrongful termination.  

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5 hours ago, Billyhoyle said:

Assuming you are right, he should have no problem winning a lawsuit against the government for wrongful termination.  

First off,he wasn't terminated,he was only suspended.

There's an article about this in today's The Record (sorry,I can't get it to link).

Based on the article,neither N.J.'s Division of Civil Rights (DCR) or the NJSIAA  specified the

rationale  for the  official  being suspended.

All it says is its the result of an agreement between  N.J.'s DCR   and the NJSIAA.

The article spends more time talking about the changes to the "hair rules" and "Implicit Bias Training",

then the actual incident.

I presume that,at some point,the NJSIAA's decision will be made public.

Then we will hopefully know a lot more.

 

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58 minutes ago, rpbobcat said:

First off,he wasn't terminated,he was only suspended.

There's an article about this in today's The Record (sorry,I can't get it to link).

Based on the article,neither N.J.'s Division of Civil Rights (DCR) or the NJSIAA  specified the

rationale  for the  official  being suspended.

All it says is its the result of an agreement between  N.J.'s DCR   and the NJSIAA.

The article spends more time talking about the changes to the "hair rules" and "Implicit Bias Training",

then the actual incident.

I presume that,at some point,the NJSIAA's decision will be made public.

Then we will hopefully know a lot more.

 

2 years of pay is still something that he could sue to recoup if he has been wronged. Not to mention the damages from being labeled a racist. It’s also possible that he incorrectly applied the rule and deserved to be suspended. You are right that we will learn more over time.

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The powers-that-be hung the ref out to dry and are scape-goating him - doesn't matter about any older dirt they might uncover about the ref - the suspension should be based on the action in question. It would seem that, at the very least, the ref has endeavored to enforce a poorly written regulation (his interpretation would coincide with many, I am sure). Dislike the rule - fine (I agree), but leave the ref out of it - he was just doing his job. And the broader non-wrestling public who are jumping in don't understand how the system functions...and JB did us no favors with the public with his "head up his butt" comment. "Never seen hair get cut matside before"??? Really? I mean really? Geeezz.

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1 hour ago, vsnej said:

This whole thing is an absolute joke and an unnecessary embarrassment to NJ wrestling. The man followed the rules, the kid and the coaches at Buena had no issue with it, the state rules interpreter thought he followed the rules. This is just so someone on the civil rights commission can puff there chest out and say look I changed something. At the end of the day it’s sad two men lost there job , wrestling got bad press , all so some miserable adults can turn a high school sporting event into a civil rights issue.Anyone around wrestling in the state can tell refs will make anyone cut hair if it’s too long or dry shave if your face isn’t smooth regardless of race.

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8 minutes ago, npope said:

The powers-that-be hung the ref out to dry and are scape-goating him - doesn't matter about any older dirt they might uncover about the ref - the suspension should be based on the action in question. It would seem that, at the very least, the ref has endeavored to enforce a poorly written regulation (his interpretation would coincide with many, I am sure). Dislike the rule - fine (I agree), but leave the ref out of it - he was just doing his job. And the broader non-wrestling public who are jumping in don't understand how the system functions...and JB did us no favors with the public with his "head up his butt" comment. "Never seen hair get cut matside before"??? Really? I mean really? Geeezz.

I agree people like JB and Askren all chiming in without any prior knowledge was definitely no help but it in the end it didn’t matter the second the video went viral there was a line of Philadelphia lawyers at the school and the at the families home the very next day. All the “major news” networks were running a story about a racist old white man destroying a child’s dreams and before anyone who with any clue about wrestling or the rules in the state could get a word in the outside already had there opinion.Im also not going to leave out the fact Maloney did himself no favors with his prior incident, but from what I understand it occurred during a drunken bar fight for what it’s worth either way the writing was on the wall day 1 

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Back in like 2002-3 had a similar incident in Flagstaff, Arizona at a tournament.......white kid..........ref won't let him wrestle......kids mom comes out of the bleachers with a pair of scissors and cuts her sons hair pitching a raging fit the whole time....................didn't even get in the local paper. Times have changed and AZ not a hotbed for wrestling especially 20 years ago!!!

Too much PC hype!!!!

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17 minutes ago, Panther78 said:

Back in like 2002-3 had a similar incident in Flagstaff, Arizona at a tournament.......white kid..........ref won't let him wrestle......kids mom comes out of the bleachers with a pair of scissors and cuts her sons hair pitching a raging fit the whole time....................didn't even get in the local paper. Times have changed and AZ not a hotbed for wrestling especially 20 years ago!!!

Too much PC hype!!!!

I had an Asian kid from a very traditional family, he had to cut his in locker room at least once every season lol no one complained we all would laugh it was no big deal. We also had a kid from Pakistan and even if he shaved in the morning by match time that night the ref would make him shave again like clockwork,I had to do it too a few times  .Never once did anyone say this was racist it just the rules 

Edited by Antitroll2828

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13 hours ago, Sheerstress said:

 

From last season's rules:

 

Rule 4-2-1:  During competition, all wrestlers shall be clean shaven with sideburns trimmed no lower than earlobe level and hair trimmed and well groomed.  The hair, in its natural state, shall not extend below the top of an ordinary shirt collar in the back; and on the sides, the hair shall not extend below earlobe level; in the front, the hair shall not extend below the eyebrows.    

[emphasis mine]

Source:  2018-19 NFHS Wrestling Rules Book

 

4.2.1 Situation E:  Wrestler A appears at weigh-ins with hair in tight cornrows.  After making the prescribed weight, the wrestler indicates no desire to undo the hair, as it takes time and is expensive to have performed.   RULING:  This is permissible if the hair is covered by a legal hair cover that is attached to the ear guards.  COMMENT: A legal hair cover is intended to allow a wrestler to compete with hair longer than permitted by rule.  A referee cannot assume the hairstyle meets the prescribed rule, therefore should a wrestler choose not to meet the rule, a legal hair cover attached to the ear guards shall be required and approved at weigh-ins.

 [emphasis mine]

Source:  2018-19 NFHS Wrestling Case Book

 

 

 

I hate to beat a dead horse, but It seems that the whole thing boils down to what the term "natural state" is supposed to mean.  

Up till now, I have assumed that it meant the hair could not be manipulated in a manner such as braiding or pinning or banding, and then gravity would determine whether the hair went below the collar, earlobe, or eyebrows.

Per 4.2.1 Situation E, in the NFHS Wrestling Case Book, this seems to be the case, indicating that the hair had to be inspected WITHOUT it being manipulated, and that the cornrows described in Situation E had to be undone in order for proper inspection of hair length.  

Hence, according to the interpretation above, Andrew Johnson's hair was NOT in its natural state because it was braided/dredlocked, and therefore had to have a legal hair covering (which he did not have).  And hence, Alan Mahoney's application of the rule was indeed correct.  

Yet the New Jersey DCR states that "In particular, they seek to eliminate any interpretation of Rule 4.2.1 that allowed wrestling officials to determine that traditionally black hairstyles were 'unnatural' or to subject wrestlers with traditionally black hairstyles to differential treatment as to when a haircover was required."

But the above rule and its case book application, which were the rule at the time of last December's incident, make NO mention of the race of the wrestler, just that the hair was not in its natural, unmanipulated state!

Does anyone here have any better insight as to what "natural state" refers to beyond what is stated in the rules?  It seems they just threw the official under the bus for doing his job.  

 

Agree, I think the only argument based on the above is if one can not “assume” the hair satisfied the rule if it were in its natural state (let’s say that Johnson’s was not), then should cutting it have even been an option?  If anything it seems Maloney was giving Johnson more leeway than he should have.  And remember, the state rules interpreter (who apparently got fired) and the 2 refs who were supposed to officiate Johnson’s next 2 matches agreed that the hair was not legal....I guess they should be suspended for 2 years too?

I still put the majority of the blame on the coach though.  If he doesn’t send his wrestler out with improper equipment then this probably never happens.

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On 12/23/2018 at 7:58 AM, bp2xbw said:

Ok, here's the story, I live in the area.  It was big news in the Courier Post( Southern NJ newspaper). Ref's had just done a youth tourny and were drinking homemade wine at an after-party. From my understanding, all parties were pretty drunk.  The ref in question was arguing over who made the best wine and said the N-word to a fellow Ref who promptly threw him to the ground.   Ref in question didn't remember the slur but called the official to apologize. Upon pressure from the offended ref's  father a complaint was made to the Officials Association and it hit the papers big time. Eventually, both Officials were suspended for a year.

Now the Ref in question has been officiating for over 40 years and there are a lot of politics and animosity among  some of the long term officials.  

If you get an invite to the youth tourney referee after-party, you know you're big time.

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This is right in my neck of the woods.  Fun fact the ref in question Alan Maloney went to the same high school as Jordan Burroughs, formerly Edgewood now Winslow.  

bp2xbw, They were both suspended for a year but both appealed and won their appeals after their confrontation.  

Apparently from other articles I've read while Maloney was in charge of the cadet refs he himself was consistently late for matches.  The hair issue should have been addressed prior to the match and we wouldn't be having these issues.  

While I do think Maloney is a racist (how can you not when he uses the N word when he's drunk and the truth comes out) I don't think this was racially motivated.  He's certainly an equal opportunity d*$#head when it comes to hair length and uniform issues.  Always has been.  

I for one am glad he's no longer in charge of the new cadet refs in the state.  As we all know the best refs are the ones you don't even realize are there.  He is the antithesis to that ideal.   

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2 hours ago, 1032004 said:

Agree, I think the only argument based on the above is if one can not “assume” the hair satisfied the rule if it were in its natural state (let’s say that Johnson’s was not), then should cutting it have even been an option?  If anything it seems Maloney was giving Johnson more leeway than he should have.  And remember, the state rules interpreter (who apparently got fired) and the 2 refs who were supposed to officiate Johnson’s next 2 matches agreed that the hair was not legal....I guess they should be suspended for 2 years too?

I still put the majority of the blame on the coach though.  If he doesn’t send his wrestler out with improper equipment then this probably never happens.

Yes, that may be the most black-and-white interpretation.   Since Johnson's hair was not in its natural state at mat side,  he should have had the 90 seconds to undo his dreadlocks and get his hair into its natural state so Mahoney could evaluate its length.  

Since that would have been just about impossible to do in 90 seconds, Johnson should have simply been disqualified, and not even given the opportunity to cut his hair.

I wonder if all the people out there protesting the haircut would have been satisfied with this option?  Would it have even become the national spectacle that it did? 

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One contention I've had with this is that I think people are misreading the rule. It doesn't say that the hair has to BE in it's natural state but that if it was in its natural state it not be too long.

In articles I've read it seems to be that Maloney previously called a black wrestler for this when the hair wasn't necessarily too long but not in its natural state. It also said somewhere that the other kid in this match had hair over his eyebrows (I think that's how I read it- it was long). 

So to me this means anyone who combs, uses gel or spray is putting the hair into something other than its natural state.

He wasn't completely wrong here just possibly inconsistent in his ruling (especially since he was late). The kid and coaches should have had the legal covering.

As a friend of mine from down that way and sees this ref a lot said- He got nailed for the one he didn't do.

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