The NFL 'N-word' debate could affect young athletes

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Updated: 3/06/2014 8:48 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & -- NFL officials are considering a ban on racial slurs on the field - specifically the "n-word" - and it's become a nationwide debate.

"I think it's an important step that the NFL is taking," said Rollins Stallworth.

Stallworth coached Hug High's football team for more than two decades.

"We did on numerous occasions hear the n-word directed at our players in certain instances," Stallworth said.

So he said the NFL talking about racial slurs is a good idea, but banning just that word isn't.

"We're kind of going down the wrong road when we talk about specific words," Stallworth said. "We just need to say any kind of a taunting nature word that you come up with is going to be punishable."

Stallworth said what happens in the NFL impacts young athletes.

"It probably does need to start at the NFL and work its way down because our players try to emulate those NFL players," he said.

Even more importantly, he said the coaches need to be role models. 

"The players are going to respond to how they're coached, and if they have a coach that's doing those kind of things then they are going to be prone to do those as players as well," Stallworth said.

Eddie Bonine is Executive Director of Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, and he said there is no high school athletics rule on specific words, but profanity isn't okay.

"Our fields and courts are extensions of the classrooms," he said.

Bonine said it's not just the schools' rule but Nevada's.

"People don't understand that in our state at a venue, one of the high school venues, if you yell directly at someone using the f-word, "f-you", it's against the law," Bonine said.

Stallworth said the lesson here is bigger than not using slurs or profanity.

"We have to really focus on bringing the sportsmanship element back into the game," he said.

NFL officials are expected address the issue at the Owners' Meetings later this month.
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