TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local Sports

October 10, 2013

Handshakes are still permitted

The Way It Is

CORBIN — If you haven’t heard, there has been some buzz surrounding the Kentucky High School Athletic Association the past couple of days.

I guess you could say things have been a bit crazy up to the north of the Tri-County.

The bottom line — the KHSAA needed a clearer message when it came to issuing its handshake directive. I believe many were confused if high school teams in the state were allowed to shake hands or not after a sporting event.

Heck, it was pretty big news considering ESPN’s SportsCenter Twitter account tweeted Wednesday that “Kentucky’s athletic association has ordered high schools not to conduct postgame handshakes due to physical confrontations between teams.”

But that wasn’t and isn’t the case, which led the same account to tweet an update stating, “UPDATE: Kentucky High School Association clarifies there is no ban on handshakes, but schools must monitor any postgame activities.”

KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett cleared up the situation by releasing his directive on postgame activity and you can read below:

Several sports have “traditions” regarding postgame handshakes, etc. by team members (both en masse 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 postgame handshakes. And this is not restricted to specific sports. In our state alone, incidents in soccer, football and volleyball have occurred this fall.

Unfortunately, the adrenaline and effort required to participate in the sport sometimes seems to deplete the supply of judgement available to participants. And this can be particularly problematic when there is a lack of an appropriate level of adult supervision, or counterproductive actions by the adults involved with the team. After consultation with the Board of Control at its last meeting, the Commissioner is issuing the following directives to officials and recommendations to the schools and officials regarding post game in baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling:

• Following the contests, officials are to quickly and efficiently leave the playing facility following all rules mandated duties and ensure that the rules book mandated jurisdiction ends promptly. 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 have no role in what goes on in postgame, including handshakes, etc. after jurisdiction has ended. Officials also have NO role in administering this policy. Officials choosing to involve themselves in postgame activities will be penalized appropriately;

• Game management and the administration of the participating team(s) are solely responsible for what happens after the contest is concluded.

• Certain interaction is required by the NFHS playing rules (i.e. the awarding of a bout winner in wrestling). Other postgame rituals such as handshakes, etc. must be closely monitored by school officials and are not a part of the game regulated by game officials. However, any unsportsmanlike conduct occurring during this time will subject the coach/player to penalties and discipline; and

• The coaches and administration of the teams are always responsible for the individual conduct of the members of the team following the contest and shall be held accountable for such.

Henceforth, any incidents by an individual squad member (including coaches) or group of squad members that results in unsporting acts immediately following the contest will result in a penalty against the member school athletic program, and additional penalties against the individuals or schools as deemed appropriate following investigation.

It is disappointing that this action has become necessary, but enough incidents have occurred both in our state and in others, that the necessity has arrived.

Tackett also commented on the situation.

“As the document states, the schools continue to have the option to have postgame handshakes as always, provided they are properly supervised,” he said. “That was the first part of two main intentions. The first was to reinforce the requirement for supervision. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, all involved in contests seem to be more aggressive immediately after the contests are concluded and winning with honor and dignity (and losing the same way) doesn’t seem to be being instilled across the board. Sometimes, these attitudes and lack of supervision have resulted in fights/altercations/incidents during postgame periods.

“In Kentucky alone, this has happened more than two dozen times in the last three years,” he added. “So the directive to the member schools is simple. Don’t do it, unless you can properly supervise it. And if you don’t supervise it (or if you do and problems occur) then you will be held accountable.  Secondly, and just as critical, don’t expect the officials to police this time period. That has never been the officials’ job at the high school level, and shouldn’t be now. It’s really that simple. Sportsmanship and civility remain hallmark values. It is my hope that all schools can provide the proper supervision and accountability to continue these types of activities. But if they can’t, then stop doing them.”

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