Home » KHSAA commissioner issues clarification about post-game handshakes

KHSAA commissioner issues clarification about post-game handshakes

Offers revised directive on postgame activities

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 10, 2013) — There has never been a ban or prohibition on post-game handshakes or other types of good sporting behavior and such a ban has not been proposed, Kentucky High School Athletics Association Commissioner Julian Tackett said Wednesday on the organization’s website.

kids handshake“There is no ban or prohibition on such activity today or contemplated for the future,” he wrote in a news release on the site, which said it was written “entirely” by the commissioner.

Tackett is referring to a directive he issued on post-game activities, including handshakes, which he had said had led to more than two dozen physical confrontations in the past three years. The directive advised schools not to hold organized post-game handshake lines because of possible confrontation.

When first issued, the directive specifically stated: “It is hereby directed that teams and individuals do not participate in organized post-game handshake lines/ceremonies … .” It later was revised.

In the KHSAA news release, Tackett explains.

… Yesterday (10/8), at best a poorly worded and at worst, an incomplete, notice was sent from me to the member schools regarding postgame activity. Regardless of the number of people who had written pieces or segments, discussed the situation in meetings, or otherwise reviewed, it was my responsibility to ensure clarity. In haste to get the information out, the normal expected quality control steps were not executed to ensure such clarity. For that, I apologize to our member schools. The complete (and hopefully clarified) notice is at khsaa.org/10082013-commissioners-directive-on-postgame-activity/.

The KHSAA has a plethora of rules, regulations, policies, directives, recommendations and other standards by which contests and eligibility are determined. In an effort to create a different category, not a rule, not a policy, but more than a recommendation or suggestion, we chose to use the word directive, which has many meanings, one of which is to be a synonym for prescription (as in: recommendation from authority). In the end, that decision was the beginning of a series of opportunities for misunderstanding and misinterpretation. In addition, two very closely related parts of the original statement were not pieced together: the directive/prescription/suggestion, and the opportunity to continue if supervised; and therefore many people who read the first part, but didn’t read the second, drew an erroneous conclusion.

The intent and spirit of the directive/prescription/recommendation was two-fold and remains in place today. First, if schools desire to perform postgame rituals such as handshake lines, etc., they must be able to monitor the activity closely. If they do not have adequate personnel to properly monitor, then they shouldn’t allow the activity. The fact is that over the last several years, we have had more than two dozen situations occur where incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct have occurred during these postgame activities. Many of these lacked proper supervision, and determining the cause/effect/proper individuals to sanction would devolve into a “he said, she said” situation. If these postgame ceremonies are going to continue, then the schools must be able to monitor what is going on, as they will be held accountable for student and coach conduct going forward.

Secondly, there is a misconception in some circles that the officials are somehow responsible for monitoring what happens postgame. Nothing could be further from the truth. The duties of those independent contractors needs to end as soon as their rule book jurisdiction ends, and that jurisdiction ending should not be extended by their participation in these ceremonies, or an expectation that they monitor these activities.

But another factor was at work here and represents a lesson for even the most veteran of administrators. Almost as soon as the information was released, misinterpretations (particularly a lack of understanding of the intended use of the word directive) were made by key media outlets and veteran users of social media. Somehow, the word “ban” or “prohibition” was interpreted to be included. In the normal sprint to be the first to break news, some of these erroneous conclusions became “viral” through social media. These inaccurate conclusions spread very quickly through social media and I am certain we will never know the full penetration of this inaccurate information.

However, in the interest of clarity, I have chosen to issue this statement and have it distributed through as many channels as possible. The full text of the information regarding postgame activity is at khsaa.org/10082013-commissioners-directive-on-postgame-activity/ and has been revised for clarity from its original form to attempt to prevent any misunderstanding.

It is critical that all involved with interscholastic athletics continue to emphasize and teach sporting behavior, as is reiterated as part of our strategic plan that states, “Sportsmanship – following the rules of the game, respecting the judgment of referees and officials, treating opponents with respect, respect for one’s opponent and graciousness in winning or losing.” It is also just as paramount that we do all we can to provide a safe playing environment during the pregame, the contest itself and the postgame, and proper supervision is a key element.

I appreciate each of you taking the time to read this information, and appreciate the passion with which everyone, players, coaches, administrators, officials and all others involved approach their involvement with school-based athletics, the purest form of competition.