On Tuesday, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association released, what was at the time, a rule that would seek to end any post-game handshake in most major team sports.
Reaction to this controversial rule was almost immediate from across the country from the high school administration, various media outlets along with social media.
Within hours of the KHSAA release the Illinois high School Athletic Association responded as IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman this morning released the following statement:
“The IHSA believes that the postgame handshake is a valuable tradition that helps provide perspective to participants that the value of participation is more important than the outcome of the event. We have no doubt that our young people, coaches, and officials have the integrity and maturity necessary to carry on this practice. It is, and will continue to be, a symbol of sportsmanship in high school sports in Illinois and we believe it is widely supported by our principals and athletic administrators. Former IHSA administrator H.V. Porter wrote in 1939 that ‘sportsmanship is largely a matter of habit’ and his words still ring true today.”
This afternoon, KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett then released a more in-depth clarification to the Tuesday member-wide notice, calling the original release, "At best a poorly worded and at worst, an incomplete, notice sent from me to the member schools regarding postgame activity," Tackett then goes on to explain that schools will still be allowed to have post-game handshakes but recommend that schools also make sure to have adequate personnel on hand to monitor the activity.
So you might ask what's the takeaway here? No one will ever question the importance of sportsmanship, yet what was once just an assumed behavior on behalf of the athletes and coaches seems to be in a state of decay on the high school and club sport level. High school sports remain an extension of the classroom, and at best, sports help teach various lessons and disciplines.
While the KHSAA did a poor job of expressing the original intent of its advisory press release, this unfortunately remains an issue that we will continue to hear about now and down the road.