- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Virginia schools ban game shake to curb fighting
Question of the Day
School officials in rural Virginia are trying to prevent fights under the Friday night lights by banning the traditional post-football game handshake.
“There have been some instances in the past where the handshaking has gotten a little bit out of control, with kids spitting on each other [and] kicking each other,” said Larry Shumaker, principal of Northumberland High School in Heathsville. “We’re just trying to prevent situations from occurring before they occur.”
The traditional demonstration of sportsmanship has the two squads forming single-file lines after games and extending hands to opponents for a shake or a slap with the occasional “good game” tossed in.
But principals of five Northern Neck District high schools — Essex, Lancaster, Northumberland, Rappahannock, and Washington and Lee — voted unanimously to ban the practice after district games in an effort to prevent problems they say are waiting to happen between the region’s bitter rivals.
“You got beat 56-0 and you want someone to tell you ‘Good game’ 35 times?” Rappahannock High School Principal Jack Cooley asked. “If you go through the line, there’s a possibility that somebody’s gonna push somebody, hit somebody, and it’s going to be a big problem at the end of the game.”
The principals dropped the custom at the beginning of the season and reaffirmed their decision at a meeting Monday. The ban applies to all sports teams in the district except for volleyball and wrestling squads, which are required by league rules to shake hands at the end of matches.
Some parents and fans have argued that the decision goes against the spirit of sportsmanship and the custom should be reinstated. Vincent Haynie, who has a freshman son at Northumberland, said the ban keeps high school athletes from being accountable for their actions.
“As long as we keep dumbing down what these students have to live up to, then our society will never get any better,” Mr. Haynie said. “They’re taking away the opportunity for these kids to step up. It’s ridiculous.”
Philip Shahan, who wrote a letter to a weekly newspaper, the Northumberland Echo, in protest of the ban, said prohibiting the handshakes forgoes the main point of high school athletics.
“None of these kids are pros, but they’re going to get jobs somewhere and run up against people who are unfair to them and to others,” Mr. Shahan said. “Scholastic athletics is about how to deal with life and adversity.”
Others have complained on message boards hosted by the Web site www.virginiapreps.rivals.com. One poster, Charger200510, called the ban “ludicrous,” while another said the ban is teaching students bad sportsmanship by prohibiting the handshakes.
Post-game handshakes are a fairly recent tradition, said Ken Blackley, an athletic director and baseball coach at Essex High School, which forbids the practice after all games. Only coaches used to offer the gesture at football games until about 12 years ago, he said.
Mr. Blackley, who has been a coach or administrator in the area for 38 years, said the ban began after several fights among football, basketball and soccer athletes occurred in the district last year. He said although coaches feel they are responsible for controlling their players’ actions, the ban is still needed to prevent potential incidents.
“Every coach feels like he can control his team, but as an administrator sitting on a time bomb with the handshakes, I like it,” Mr. Blackley said. “Every time they go to shake hands, I’m on pins and needles. I just go crazy because I know it’s going to happen.”
Northumberland coach Tony Booth said he has not seen a need for the ban among his players.
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- ON THE RUN: Competition for Redskins backup running back is heating up
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors