The Lexington Herald Leader reported yesterday that the Kentucky High School Athletic Association has issued a new directive instructing teams not to make their players participate in post-game handshake lines, the reasoning being that too many altercations have taken place. Affected sports include baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and wrestling.
"Unfortunately, the adrenaline and effort required to participate in the sport sometimes seems to deplete the supply of judgment available to participants," the Commissioner's Directive reads, which went out to Kentucky high schools yesterday. "While it is an obvious sign of sportsmanship and civility, many incidents have occurred ... where fights and physical conflicts have broken out."
"The message needed to be gotten out there clearly that some of the things we always assumed would go smoothly would not go smooth," Commissioner Julian Tackett said. "Above all, don't rely on the officials to monitor it [the handshake line]. That's not their job."
Over two dozen fights have occurred at Kentucky high school sporting events in the last three years during the post-game handshake lines. There are no specific rules requiring the handshake lines, but coaches sometimes make their players participate as a matter of civility and honor.
The new policy states that the teams are not to participate in any more handshaking than required by the National Federation of State High School Association's playing rules. If the teams want to shake hands, the interaction is to be highly supervised. Any altercations are to be reported to the KHSAA and both teams will be held liable. "You're on notice, if you're going to do this, you're going to be accountable," Tackett said.
As for game officials, KHSAA reps and referees are expected to leave immediately following the game without being involved in any post-game activities. As independent contractors, the officials will be penalized if they involve themselves. Tackett: "[If parents were really concerned about sportsmanship], they wouldn't treat the referees like they do — chase them off the fields, follow them to cars, not to mention the language that's used."
If you want to see a couple reactions from Kentucky high school coaches about the new regulation, this video may interest you:[Image via WYMT Sports]