A New Jersey wrestling official, with a known history of using a racial slur, is under fire for not allowing a Black wrestler to cover his dreadlocks, forcing him instead to cut them off or forfeit the match.
And a local sports reporter sparked outrage online for calling the young man the “epitome of a team player” but failing to call out the inherent racism in the act.
SNJ Today Sports Editor Mike Frankel tweeted video of the incident, noting that wrestler Andrew Johnson was not allowed to wrestle with a cover over his hair, as New Jersey state wrestling rules allow. Johnson went on to win in overtime.
Epitome of a team player ⬇️
A referee wouldn’t allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover over his dreadlocks. It was either an impromptu haircut, or a forfeit. Johnson chose the haircut, then won by sudden victory in OT to help spark Buena to a win. pic.twitter.com/f6JidKNKoI
— Mike Frankel (@MikeFrankelSNJ) December 20, 2018
Seriously, you and your team should spend a minute thinking about how you framed this really awful story. Please.
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) December 21, 2018
Twitter users responded in force, many angered by Frankel's failure to call out the racism of the incident.
That ref should be fired. Shame on you for trying to frame this like it’s some kind of feel good story. pic.twitter.com/L87QeEgZKG
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) December 21, 2018
Many others pointed out that the referee -- clearly visible in the video -- is Alan Maloney, who used a racial slur at a social gathering in 2016 and was taken down by a fellow official.
NJ.com said messages left Friday for Buena athletic director David Albertson and Buena wrestling coach George Maxwell were not immediately returned. Bill Bruno, the assistant director from the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association who oversees wrestling, also did not immediately return a phone message Friday.