The governing body of high school sports, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, released a statement last week in regards to “handshakes” at the conclusion of high school games noting it was the directive of the KHSAA that schools don’t participate in the sportsmanship like gesture.
Commissioner Julian Tackett later issued a statement noting that the original email message had been “poorly worded” and he said the statement was misunderstood.
As of right now, handshakes at the conclusion of a high school sporting event is not prohibited, however, schools are responsible for having adequate supervision and if an altercation does occur, the school could be fined up to $1,000 for the incident.
According to an article appearing in last week’s Courier Journal, the state’s largest daily newspaper, the KHSAA is telling schools “it’s their call and it’s their responsibility.”
“Several sports have “traditions” regarding post-game handshakes, etc … by team members (both en mass and as individuals), but none of them have such action dictated by playing rules. While it is an obvious sign of sportsmanship and civility, many incidents have occurred both in Kentucky (more than two dozen in the last three years in Kentucky alone) and throughout the country, where fights and physical conflicts have broken out during these post-game handshakes, and this is not restricted to specific sports. In our state alone, incidents in soccer, football and volleyball have occurred this fall,” Tackett said in a press release Tuesday, October 8, 2013.
Tackett received considerable backlash from the media and political officials in the state, in which he responded with the fact that the KHSAA was not banning the post-game procedure at all and that his previous press release was misunderstood.
According to the CJ, State Rep. Steve Riggs (D-Louisville), announced his intention to file a bill that would strip KHSAA of it’s ability to create and enforce fines if an altercation were to occur at a post-game handshake.
As far as Clinton County is concerned, Athletic Director Mike Beard sent a memo to all coaches in the school district saying Clinton County will participate in post-game handshakes.
“I would hate to think that things have gotten so bad that we could not at least shake hands after a competition with another school. I would like to keep with the tradition of the handshake line, etc., at the conclusion of each contest,” Beard said in the memo. “If something has happened during a contest that you could foresee a possible problem by going through the handshake line, you may use your own discretion. Please don’t use that as an excuse for not shaking hands if the outcome does not go our way.”
Head Boys’ Basketball Coach Todd Messer said it shows respect to the competitor.
“I think its a sad day when you get a direct comment from the governing body to take away one of the basic aspects of sportsmanship,” Messer said. “You learn more from humbling yourself by shaking a man’s hand when you lose. When you win, you’re showing respect for the other team, for their competitive drive and competition. For my boys, win lose or draw, we are going to shake hands and understanding the importances while you are competing, you need to applaud the efforts of others.”
Even though the directive from Tackett didn’t completely ban the “handshake” from high school sports, it has made the schools aware of the fact that altercations can occur during the post-game procedure.
With Tackett saying it is the school’s responsibility to “police” the post-game procedure, he also said it is not the officials job to do so.
According to Tackett’s press release, officials have no role in what goes on in post-game, including handshakes, etc., after jurisdiction has ended. There is no need for officials to secure the game, balls, shake hands with the coaches or players, or stick around the playing area for any other reason.
“Officials choosing to involve themselves in post-game activities will be penalized appropriately,” Tackett said in his press release.
It is up to the school district whether or not post-game procedure will be performed and as of right now, Clinton County will continue to shake hands with its opponents.
“I understand to a degree, as coaches we are all involved in heated play, and it’s our job to see that coming and when we do see that coming we handle it,” Messer said.
In the most recent football game, Clinton County’s tempers flared, along with Red Boiling Springs, and a few penalties were called at the end of regulation that caused Head Coach Jamie Miller to think about whether or not to meet the other team at the middle of the field and shake hands, but Miller said he continued with the post-game tradition.
“I contemplated it for a minute because there were some penalties called at the end of the game, but they came out and so I thought I’m not going to be the one to look like we aren’t showing sportsmanship, so I sent them out and kept an eye on them.”
Miller believes the handshake at the end of each game should continue to be part of the game.
“That would be the thing I think I would be the most mad about … my guys not showing character or class after a contest is over,” Miller said. “When it happens 12 times across every school in the state of Kentucky, that’s not a whole lot percentage wise. I would rather stick with the tradition of shaking hands and congratulating the other team. I think it shows a high level of character. I would rather my boys grow up to be men rather than little boys who know a little about the Xs and Os of football. Learning about life and how to be a man is more important to me.”