Boston's Morning Newsletter
In wake of Wellesley incident, Mass. high school sports official calls racist slurs a persistent problem
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Northeastern University is your 2023 men’s Beanpot champions, after beating Harvard in the tournament’s first-ever finals shootout. The Huskies will also play Boston College tonight for the women’s Beanpot trophy.
But first, we’re kicking off today’s newsletter with a troubling trend one step down the ladder in local amateur sports:
As the winter high school sports season nears its close, leaders in Massachusetts are grappling with what they’ve described as a persistent problem over the last year: hateful chants and heckling. Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association assistant director Mike Rubin told WBUR’s Amy Sokolow that there’ve been dozens of reported hate incidents during games, mostly involving spectators — both adults and students — yelling things from the stands. “The majority of it is racial slurs,” Rubin said. But he noted the incidents run “the whole gamut,” including sexism and anti-Semitism.
- The most recent example: Wellesley High School mandated that students could only attend a basketball game last week if they were seated with an adult, after someone yelled racial slurs at Black players on Weymouth’s team from the school’s student section during a previous game. There have been 42 reported incidents since the MIAA launched a form to report them in November 2021, according to Rubin. And he knows others are going unreported.
- What’s next: For now, the MIAA wants individual schools to take the lead on enforcing consequences and policies. However, Rubin says he hears from “a lot” of athletic directors asking for help handling such difficult situations. So, they’re planning to hold 30 regional workshops this spring as part of a joint effort launched this past December by then-Attorney General Maura Healey.
- His advice to schools for now: Be visible and clear about not tolerating hate, and make sure to have staff present at games. “You got to make sure you put up signage. You got to welcome the opposing teams… Your student body needs to know your expectations and the opposing team needs to know your expectations,” Rubin said.
PSA: Want to reduce your exposure to PFAS in your water, your kitchen and food supplies, your clothing, your… dental floss? WBUR’s Gabrielle Emanuel spoke with more than a half-dozen experts to learn what changes they’ve made in their own lives to avoid the concerning “forever chemicals.” Read the full list of tips here.
- Go deeper: As part of our new PFAS series, we also have a feature in “The Rundown” below from WBUR’s Barbara Moran on how new regulations are forcing Massachusetts communities to face the “true cost” of clean drinking water. Give it a read!
If you’re getting back late from that Valentine’s Day dinner tonight, watch out for possible highway ramp closures. State officials are doing overnight work this week to expand a new safety system designed to prevent wrong-way crashes. And it means a number of ramps on I-93, Route 6, and Route 3 will be closed from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. through Friday, from Boston to Fall River.
- The work is being done on a total of 16 ramps that officials say are “most prone” to wrong-way entries. (Since 2014, the state says there have been over 2,000 such incidents on highways.) NBC Boston has the full list of this week’s planned closures here.
The drought is over — the literal drought. State officials declared Monday that the drought that began last spring and reached extreme levels across Massachusetts in the summer has officially ended. Rebecca Tepper, the state’s secretary of energy and environmental affairs, said in a statement that every region of the state has returned to normal conditions, after above-normal rainfall in January.
- What it means: Following the relaxation of widespread outdoor water-use restrictions last summer, the new declaration doesn’t have much impact for most residents. It just means the state’s Drought Management Task Force can stop meeting for now.
- What’s next: WBUR’s Miriam Wasser reports that sudden droughts — as well as more intense storms — are becoming more frequent in New England. Both trends make it harder for groundwater levels to recover before the next drought hits.
P.S.— Our downloadable Boston-themed Valentine's Day cards are back again this year and they're perfect for your loved one (if your loved one is a local who loves iced coffee and long walks 10 miles west of Boston; otherwise, they might ask "Wait, um, who's Caroline?"). Click here to check them out.