Ky. High Schools may eliminate post-game handshakes

KENTUCKY (FOX19) - The Kentucky High School Athletic Association Commissioner has issued a directive to cease post-game handshakes following all sporting events.

The post-game handshake is an obvious sign of sportsmanship and civility between opposing teams. However, Kentucky's new directive is asking teams to cease the practice due to an abundance of fights and physical conflicts throughout the state.

"I think it's ridiculous," said Christian Stewart, a senior football player at Covington Catholic.

Stewart sees the quick handshake as something with a much deeper meaning.

"It's the sign of respect you deserve after a football game.  If I was walking through a line and someone did not shake my hand, I would feel disrespected," Stewart told FOX19.

Some athletes say possibly taking the handshakes out of the game, simply hurts the game.

"If they want to take it away, then it's just hurting the teams and you've got to show sportsmanship," said Matt Miller, a football player at Covington Catholic.

As the Covington Catholic soccer team finished its game Tuesday afternoon, they lined up and shook hands with their opponents from Dixie Heights.  The exchange was incident-free.

"I've been coaching 9 years now at the high school level, and I have not seen an issue with it at all," said Jeremy Robertson, who coaches soccer at Covington Catholic.

If the postgame handshakes disappeared from competition, players and coaches admit, it'll leave a big hole.

"If they were to take that away, I've done it 10 years of my life, I'd be like, 'What am I supposed to do afterwards,'" said Miller.

"I don't think it's going to necessarily change the game.  It's just going to leave, at the end of the game, 'Okay, what's next' type of atmosphere," Robertson told FOX19.

Along with the directive handed down on Tuesday, KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett said, "The directive to 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."

The directive is calling for the following:

  • 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.
  • It is directed that teams and individuals do not participate in organized post game handshake lines/ceremonies beyond that interaction that is required by the NFHS playing rules (i.e. the awarding of a bout winner in wrestling) and the individual unorchestrated actions by individual competitors. If the decision is made to ignore this directive and participate in some form of organized postgame handshake line/handshake against this recommendation, it is the expressed responsibility of game management and the coaches and administration of the teams to supervise the activity, to report to the KHSAA any incidents that occur; and
  • The coaches and administration of the teams are responsible for the individual conduct of the members of the team following the contest and shall be held accountable for such.

The directive states that the actions of any individual following a contest will result in a fine against the member school's athletic program. The school can then access penalties against the individual as deemed appropriate.

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