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AHAI Protocol for Addressing Hate Speech at Games

By AHAI Board of Directors, 06/28/21, 1:15PM CDT


The following Protocol for Addressing Hate Speech has been put forward by Jennifer Dillman, Evanston High School Hockey/Evanston Youth Hockey Association’s Rules & Ethics Chairperson. Jennifer adapted an existing policy from the Central Suburban League, working with Jack Raslawski from the AHAI Suspension & Review Committee, to be adopted as a procedure to be used in the upcoming Fall season. This protocol has been endorsed by Kevin Bolger, President of AHAI. A sincere thank you to Jennifer Dillman for her hard work on AHAI’s Protocol for Addressing Hate Speech at Games.

This Protocol for Addressing Hate Speech will be in effect at all games sanctioned by AHAI. It is designed to provide a consistent and rational framework for managing and dealing with situations at games when an athlete or coach believes an opposing team athlete or coach has used hate speech towards a member of their team.  It is created to accomplish the following goals:

1) Make a clear statement that AHAI does not tolerate hate speech.

2) Demonstrate that addressing hate speech is more important than the game itself.

3) Address the situation in real-time.

4) Demonstrate to the target and team that their concern is being heard and addressed.


Definition of Hate Speech

Hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. “Target” refers to the individual who heard the hate speech. “Alleged offender” refers to the individual(s) who allegedly used the hate speech. “Comment” refers to the hate speech that was used.

Administration of the Protocol

1) The target will inform his/her head coach of the following at the next stoppage in action after the comment was heard:

a. The specific comment made.

b. When and where the comment was made.

c. Identification of the alleged offender (number, position, etc)

NOTE: if the target is unable to identify who made the comment, the target should still communicate what s/he heard to his/her coach and his/her coach should notify the official and opposing coach immediately

2) The head coach will immediately inform the officials of the information above. The officials will meet with the head coaches of both teams and review the comment. The teams will go to their respective benches. The coach of the alleged offender and an official will meet with the alleged offender to ask the offender about the comment alleged.

3)  If the alleged offender admits to saying the comment, s/he will be ejected from the game and will be subject to the discipline policies and procedures of the club and/or AHAI for the use of hate speech.

4) If the alleged offender does not admit to saying the comment, the alleged offender will be informed by his/her coach that if the official or coach hears any other use of hate speech from the alleged offender later in the contest, the offender will be ejected, suspended for the next contest and will be subject to the discipline policies and procedures of the club and/or AHAI for the use of hate speech. The official will submit written documentation (Incident Report) of what they heard and a log will be kept by the AHAI Suspension and Review Committee (see #9 below).  

5) The target will then be told by his/her head coach of the outcome. If the alleged offender did not admit to saying the comment, the coach will tell the target to continue informing him/her directly if hate speech is used again. Additional reports involving the same alleged offender will be shared with the official who will inform the other head coach but play will not be stopped unless the official actually hears the comment.

Willful misrepresentation or obstruction of this process by players, coaches or officials will be subject to suspension pending AHAI Suspension Committee review.

6) After the contest, the head coaches of both teams will inform their respective Club President and Rules & Ethics Chair as soon as reasonably possible of ALL situations in which hate speech was used, or suspected of being used.  The Rules & Ethics chairperson of each Clubs will then investigate the matter accordingly.

7) Officials who directly hear hate speech during a game will assess a match penalty under USAH rule 601e3 and file the appropriate game report.  Officials who are notified of suspected hate speech under this policy will file an incident report.

8) If the target does not inform his/her coach about the comment until after the team has left the rink, the coach shall inform his/her club’s President and Rules & Ethics Chair, who shall then investigate the matter accordingly.

9) Each Club’s Rules & Ethics Chairperson will then inform the AHAI Suspension and Review Committee of the incident who will in turn document the incident in the AHAI Hate Speech Incident Log.

Adopted from the Central Suburban League ( Hate Speech Protocol. Please click here to download/print.