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Kentucky Misses the Boat
October 11, 2013 - Al Stephenson
If you read, as I did, the directive handed down by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, I'm guessing that you too were shaking your head. Just in case you missed it, the KHSAA banned post game handshakes between the athletes of competing high schools. The reason? Too many fights have broken out during such displays of "sportsmanship" that the association didn't know what else to do.
Well, I have an idea for those folks. Reinstate the handshakes right now!
You missed the boat on this one. Do not end the one thing that signals good sportsmanship. The message you are sending is that we know kids will take swings at each other so we won't give them a golden opportunity to do so. It's almost like condoning fighting, but saving face by pretending to do something about it. This isn't hockey - it's high school athletics, where teaching values such as self sacrifice, teamwork and good sportsmanship is as important as winning.
If you want to stop the fighting, punish the pugilists not the sportsmanship gesture. As I read the story, I couldn't help but wonder what the coaches were doing about these situations. They should suspend any athlete for fighting, no matter the provocation. The KHSAA should also punish the combatants and if that doesn't help suspend the coach or punish the school. That would likely put an end to the shenanigans and let all know that good sportsmanship is not only expected, but is required.
The view from my seat suggests that the Bluegrass State will eventually rethink this. Let's hope so, because high school athletics are important - if done right.
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