The soccer match at Roscoe Eades Stadium concluded Thursday and, without provocation, players from Dixon and Sterling started to line up, facing each other.
It’s a scene that happens a thousand times a night on fields and in gyms across the state.
When Dixon coach Mahmoud Etemadi found Sterling assistant coach Gabe Ocampo, the two embraced. Sterling player Tony Diaz limped past holding an ice bag from a minor injury incurred during the match, and Etemadi reached out to ask him if he was OK.
Later, Etemadi took time to talk to Ocampo’s twin sons – Pedro and Salomon – both former Warrior stars.
The process of the match being over was as friendly as the match itself had been competitive.
Once the match was over, so were any hard feelings.
I guess that’s the difference between Illinois and Kentucky.
Earlier this week, the Kentucky High School Association announced it was banning postgame handshakes.
You read that right.
The association noted more than 20 incidents of fighting over the last 3 years during the postgame handshakes.
Now, I’ve covered several hundred games and matches over the last 9 years.
Some of those games had a darker tenor than the one Thursday at Roscoe Eades Stadium, but I can’t think of a single postgame where punches were thrown.
That’s not to say that all the greetings were amiable or heartfelt, but that’s beside the point.
I saw a tweet by a fellow sports writer saying that forced handshakes really aren’t sportsmanship, anyway.
But my mom used to force me to say please and thank you for things growing up, even when I didn’t mean it. Should she not have done that?
I still use my please and thank you’s on a daily basis ... and almost always mean it.
And I spent a decade or better being forced to shake hands with opponents after games.
When I go out to play pickup games of basketball, I almost always do it still. It feels wrong not to.
It seems to me that Kentucky will be losing an important teaching tool by doing away with handshakes.
And, more importantly, if these players, coaches and schools can’t handle a handshake, why would you ever trust them to participate against each other in contact sports?