Tim Drisdom, basketball coach at Intermountain Christian High School in Holladay, Utah, complained to the opposing athletic director, principal and even police officers — but ultimately he was still subjected to the racial slurs and taunts spewed from a fan of Tabiona High School.
Drisdom, despite lodging complaints and seeking to have the fan removed, said the same fan hurled insults at him at a later game. The fan, who despite having a police officer placed next to him, continued to lob racist comments.
“I felt like we were just in a helpless situation where if we looked to law enforcement, they’re the guys who also allowed it,” Drisdom told The Salt Lake Tribune. “When you looked to the administration, they also allowed it by not doing anything about it.”
Drisdom is not alone in expressing frustration about the racism present in Utah high school athletics, and now the governing body appears to be attempting to find a solution.
As the Tribune reports, the Utah High School Activities Association has approved new language for consideration for the UHSAA handbook that specifically condemns “racial slurs, racial harassment and racial discrimination,” adding that the body “disapproves of any form of taunting which is intended to embarrass, ridicule or demean others under any circumstances including on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin.”
The new language heads to the UHSAA board of trustees Tuesday. But will new handbook language be enough to counter the problem?
UHSAA assistant director Jon Oglesby told the Tribune that the organization is seeking to strike a balance between protecting participants in UHSAA-sponsored events without limiting “rights that people have to say certain things.”
“That’s a delicate balance,” Oglesby said. “Both are important.”
In addition to developing new handbook language, the UHSAA will reportedly consider how to give new sportsmanship policies teeth. Oglesby said that the organization is mulling penalties including suspensions for fans who find themselves ejected for violating the new policies.
Drisdom suggested season-long bans for code of conduct violations, and lifetime bans for repeat offenders, as well as fines for offending schools.