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Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett issued a directive last week discouraging post-game handshakes. Since its release, the directive has come under heavy scrutiny and has in some cases, been misunderstood.
Some people took it so far as to say that handshakes were banned when the directive was issued.
According to KHSAA spokesperson Marilyn Mitchell, however, handshakes are not prohibited.
Mitchell forwarded a press release to The Lebanon Enterprise. The release reads that handshaking is not banned, but it won’t be monitored by KHSAA, either. That’s because KHSAA officials will not be in charge of what goes on after a game has ended.
“Nothing about this directive is etched in stone as far as post game procedures,” Tackett noted in the release. “As the document states, the schools continue to have the option to have postgame handshakes as always, provided they are properly supervised.”
The new policy states that the organization will not be held liable for consequences due to poor sportsmanship during the post-game activity.
“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,” Tackett said.
From now on, KHSAA officials will leave the field or court as “quickly and efficiently” as possible once their duties are complete. They will not shake hands with coaches or players, and will be penalized if they do.
Despite the new directive however, Marion County High School Athletic Director Robby Peterson said Marion County teams will continue the handshaking tradition.
“Marion County athletic teams will continue to shake hands after games under the supervision of coaches and administrators just as we have always done,” Peterson said in an email.
Marion County coaches said the same.
“I understand the intent behind it, but it sends a horrible message that sportsmanship is not really important,” Lady Knights volleyball Coach David Hibbard said in an email. “The KHSAA is simply trying to cover itself from liability.”
The KHSAA press release said there have been more than 24 incidents in the last three years during post-game handshakes.
However, it is important to note that there are thousands of games played in Kentucky each year.
Knights soccer Coach Greg Conley stated that in the 22 years he has been coaching, there has never been a fight when his team shook hands with their opponents.
“My teams have always lined up to shake hands and as long as I am a coach that WILL continue,” Conley said in an email.
Conley said he teaches many things in his program, and one major point they teach is sportsmanship.
“The kids need to learn how to win with class and lose with good sporting behavior,” he said.