Wrestling fans across the country are either outraged or not when it comes to a recent incident at a New Jersey wrestling match.
While some people think what happened was just following the rules, many others have spoken out on social media to say that they believe it was a racist act that left a high school student stuck choosing between wresting and his dreadlocks.
How It Began
Andrew Johnson, a wrestler and high school student, was forced by a referee to either cut his longer-than-regulation length dreadlocks or forfeit a very important match.
When the incident occurred, Andrew Johnson was just getting ready to compete for his school, Buena Regional High School. His dreadlocks were covered as per a rule on what to do with non-regulation length hair, but Alan Maloney, the referee, stepped in regarding the general rule on hair length and ended up causing a firestorm of online reactions.
As for who was in the right regarding the rules, NJSIAA has not made any comment back about the event, although they have been contacted by those wanting to know what their response was.
Dreads or Match?
Before a match, team members are checked by their coaches to make sure that everything they have conforms to regulations. If a referee notices something out of place despite the work of the coaches, they may step in and notify the wrestler of what they need to change prior to the game.
Maloney informed Andrew that his hair covering wasn’t going to work, and he would need to make a crucial choice. He was either going to have an impromptu hair cut right then and there or miss out on wresting that day.
Not wanting to let his school and teammates down, Andrew agreed to have his hair cut on the spot, but his decision was a reluctant one.
A Painful Haircut
The cutting of his locks by a female coach before the game was captured on video by a fan with a cellphone. In the video, you can see that Andrew wasn’t exactly thrilled about it.
After the trim, Andrew went on to completely destroy the competition, although he was devastated about having to cut his beloved dreads in order to have the chance to do so. The disappointment could be clearly seen all over his face, even with his hand raised in victory when the match was over.
Although his teammates tried to cheer him up, Andrew wasn’t really going for it.
And the Internet Reacts
After the match was over, people dug into it and discovered that Alan Maloney had made a racist slur at a social gathering in 2016 and had ended up on the losing side of a physical fight because of it. That added fuel to the fire and the video of the haircut quickly went viral.
Maloney apologized for his behavior at the wrestling match and will be completing a sensitivity training class according to the organization that oversees high school wrestling in the state of New Jersey.
What are your thoughts?
Was making Andrew give up his dreadlocks to continue high school wresting cruel and racist; or was this a misunderstanding about the nuances of hair-length rules (and exceptions to the rules) in the sport?
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