The Vermont Principals Association
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Recent Incidents of Racism in Vermont Interscholastic Activities

The VPA reinforces the importance of taking any and all reports and incidents of racism very seriously. In partnership with our schools, the VPA has worked to shine a brighter light on the importance of reporting and intervening than ever before. In conjunction with student-athletes, fans, and schools–that brighter light means seeing more, and the need to face the long-standing systemic racism that presents as implicit bias, as “jokes”,
and at times, as horrible slurs and hate speech. The significance of the damage that racism causes to those targeted can not be understated, nor can the damage it does to our communities at large.

Interscholastic activities hold an important role in our communities. Teams can bring their school communities together around shared values such as dedication, learning, teamwork, and belonging. Interscholastic activities are also often the events that the broader community joins as fans, interacting with one another, and engaging with members of neighboring communities. When learning, positive encouragement, and empathy are centered, these events can serve as wonderful opportunities for community building within and among towns around the state.

Interscholastic activities do not happen in a vacuum. They depend on and are a part of the whole. Each event relies on families/guardians, coaches, officials, athletic directors, teachers, school administrators, friends, and community members. Any problems “at the event” are collective problems for us each to work to address together. And with that in mind, the VPA provides the following reminders:

● The VPA expects the Pregame Statement to be read at each event with the corresponding
possible interventions and restrictions fully applicable to schools and teams.
● All coaches and officials are expected to complete the NFHS Implicit Bias Course
● The Reporting Form is open and active year round
● VPA Guide to Good Sportsmanship
● Bench Bad Behavior Public Service Announcements from the NFHS

Furthermore, we recognize and honor the long history of American athletes’ courage in bringing attention to vital social justice causes, helping advance our society toward a more just and equal democracy. Here in Vermont, several high school-aged teams have recently decided with their schools to forfeit games or reschedule.

For clarity sake, a forfeit means:
● A loss for the team opting to forfeit
● A loss for a team required to forfeit due to rule violations
● The loss will impact overall team records and playoff rankings
● Schools who opt to reschedule may do so in partnership with member schools

Student-athletes will always have the autonomy to refuse to play. And, there are other ways to bring attention to the importance of addressing racism and its impact. In the past few weeks, there have been several examples of schools working together to talk, listen, learn, take protective measures, find collaborative ways to protect student-athletes, and bring attention to the harm of not just personal acts of racism, but the damage racism causes to our communities as a whole. Interscholastic activities provide the chance for unification in shared commitments to learning, growing empathy, and building safe environments to help end racism in each of our communities not just in interscholastic activities but throughout each aspect of our school and broader communities.