Controversy broke out this week after some thought the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) commissioner had banned postgame handshakes between teams. As it turns out, a memo issued by commissioner Julian Tackett was misinterpreted, and he was instead announcing that postgame handshakes must be supervised and that schools could be fined if misconduct occurred.
According to the memo on the KHSAA website, during the past few years, dozens of fights have broken out during postgame handshakes. The memo outlines what coaches and officials should do when an incident occurs, and the consequences of unsportsman-like behavior.
“It is disappointing that this action has become necessary, but enough incidents have occurred both in our state and in others, that the necessity has arrived,” the memo states.
However, various news outlets around the country reported that Tackett had banned the postgame handshake, which is typically a gesture of sportsmanship. As a result, Tackett issued an updated statement Tuesday afternoon.
“It is my hope that all schools can provide the proper supervision and accountability to continue these types of activities,” the memo reads. “But if they can’t, then stop doing them.”
Tackett also apologized for the confusion.
In the hours before Tackett issued a clarification, outlets expressed consternation that he would try to ban the practice.
“High school administrators have officially gone mad with power, and that’s saying something because they were already mad with power. Now they’re taking away things that are universally recognized as good,” Barstool Sports wrote.
Even now that it's clear that Tackett is not banning the practice, some are still upset about the directive. On Wednesday, state representative Steve Riggs (D-Louisville) said he wanted to block the organization’s ability to fine schools, the Courier-Journal reports.
“Not only do I believe the KHSSA was wrong in pushing this directive and threatening school officials and coaches with fines, I am not convinced they had the authority to do that in the first place [all sic],” Riggs said in a statement, according to the outlet.
In 1994, the Marmonte League in California banned postgame handshakes for high school athletes. However, officials reversed the policy after one season due to backlash, according to the Los Angeles Times.