What do you think about “forcing” kids to shake hands after a game? I’m a little torn on this and I’m covering it on Saturday’s show.

By admin •  Updated: 06/09/14 •  15 min read

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After watching Schwartz and Harbaugh make asses of themselves this past Sunday and the potential debacle at the Georgia Vanderbilt game on Saturday, I’m forced to ask myself this question. I’ve yet to formulate a concrete opinion on it and so I wanna hear from folks about the merits as well as the pitfalls of this seemingly empty post-game gesture.

Would love to hear some strong opinions from callers on the show and


has always been a great forum for strong opinions.


Coach Tony


Hey Coach Tony on ESPN Radio

Coach Henze’s Answer

Thanks for the great question Tony!

As a long-time youth coach, I think the post-game handshake is a good thing at the youth level. The gesture helps develop good sportsmanship which is an important trait for all of youth to acquire.

On the flip-side, I think some sports and communities are taking this type of sportsmanship to a ridiculous level. Girls volleyball is a sport that pops into my head when I think of pointless handshakes. At volleyball games, the girls on the teams are required to shake hands prior to the game AND after the game. I don’t think that is necessary. I also don’t like the idea of, during high school basketball warmups, the players having to go and shake the opposing coaches hand. Team handshakes at the end of games should be enough. Too much of this sportsmanship gesturing is nauseating!

With collegiate and professional level teams, I really don’t think society cares or needs to see the players shake hands or the coaches meet at mid-field to shake hands after the game. At those levels, there are too many hot heads and bad things can happen. It is their careers and, if they had a bad game that could cost them money (job, increase in pay, etc), tempers may not be controlled.

At the youth level, most of the kids are not playing for compensation or their careers. Sportsmanship is important and should be taught that the game is just that… A game!

When I played high school sports, I acquired some friends because of the post-game handshake because it gave you a chance to look someone in the eye and say “nice game” and most people appreciate that. I am serious when I say that… I have a few friends that I talked to for the first time during the hand-shake after we played against each other.

So, I guess I think it is important at the youth levels to continue the post game handshakes, but I really DON’T care about seeing it at the professional or top-tier collegiate levels!

Thanks for the question Tony! Hopefully, this will stir some good discussion on your show!

What do you think?

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Comments for What do you think about “forcing” kids to shake hands after a game? I’m a little torn on this and I’m covering it on Saturday’s show.

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Oct 21, 2011

Hand shake

by: Neil Malm

My first thought on reading the comments was. Why is the hand shake after the game called forced? It is like warming up and practicing before the game. Or the post game treat just part of the game.

The post game hand shake is not an empty ritual. To me it is a part of the game that we coaches use to teach sportsmanship. Teaching kids that it is a game. That once the game is over you can let the emotions go, cool down. Aren’t the fights and confrontations we have after some games showing the necessity of this ritual. I have had some coaches that I REALLY did not want to shake hands with after the game and probably some did not want to shake with me. But I did it anyway. Why? because if I can’t why should the kids.

I have not coached at the higher levels. But, I would think the hand shake should be done at all levels. Why are we bothering to teach the kids sportsmanship at all, if they are not going to be expected to show the same sportsmanship later? Isn’t it more important when the competition is greater and more intense to have sportsmanship to fall back on when frustrations, and emotions get high? Isn’t not expecting Sportsmanship at the higher levels like teaching our kids to say Please and Thank You and not expect them to continue it later in life? Another thing that hit me is behavior carries Up the various levels of a sport and Down the levels of a sport. Kids copy what they see at the upper levels of a sport.

To me the handshake after a game is not empty even if it is not meant because it gives us a standard to live up to. Something to look at and say he stepped over the line and needs to straighten up. I think that we need that these days.

Oct 20, 2011

Umpire Shake

by: Mr. Lebowski

Jim mentioned shaking the hands of MLB umpires in one of his posts. I think this is tremendously important and yes it is because i am a catcher. Even in little league you end up seeing the guy or guys throughout the season. At higher levels there is more interaction between umpires and players which i think leads to more respects from the players. Even in high school there would be certain players that would players beyond catchers that would thank the umpire for their effort. At the youth levels, i think umpires are still seen as looming figures of authority and it keeps the interaction between the two at a minimum. So basically at higher levels a mutual respect naturally forms. At the youth level it goes back to the original question posted – why force them to shake the umpires hand? Especially if they have no clue as to why they are doing it.

Oct 20, 2011

What is sportsmanship? Does the definition change at higher levels?

by: Mr. Lebowski

I agree with a lot of what has already been said. One of the anonymouses—(ok, i looked this word up and i learned that when anonymous is used as a noun, that is the weird and 60% accepted version)—gave a definition that centered on the handshake being a symbol of respect between competitors. A “thanks for busting your tail so I had to bust mine” or “mutual respect for worthy efforts displayed by both sides”. Now that is the first thing that popped into my head when i thought of this question. Then i thought back to my little league coaches and what they told the team…………I don’t think any of them ever sat down the team and explained what sportsmanship was and why we thank the other team. Sure we were told play fair, don’t cheat and there is a difference between cheering for your team or against the other team – sportsmanship of play; but I don’t recall any coach expanding beyond the “let’s go out and shake their hands” – the respect of competitor sportsmanship.

We have hit on several sports that have bogus handshake lines. Coach Henze mentioned volleyball; the end of the game handshake as they run on opposite sides of the net hardly brings home the idea of sportsmanship at any level. I find it interesting that we haven’t talked about hand shake lines at the end of hockey series. Even after the Stanley Cup, the embrace between players is a rare spotlight on sportsmanship at such a high level of play. Coach Hucke brings up a good point about how sportsmanship of play changes the higher up the ladder you go in any sport. Pro’s get paid to win, to produce for their team. When Jeter faked getting drilled this season it was a poor display of sportsmanship of play. However at that high of level i believe that the focus changes from right and wrong to whatever you get caught for is wrong. No matter what type of sportsmanship is displayed between the lines, when the action stops, athletes need to be able to respect the effort displayed by their opponent. Where does this mind set start? With our coaches at the lowest level and it needs to be reinforced at each progressive level. ALARM ALARM..reinforced has forced in it! That is not forcing athletes to mindlessly embrace, it is continually reminding our young athletes that within that competitor that they were just trying to dominate in every way possible, there is another person who is putting in almost as much time as they are and without them pushing us, we could never truly know our own potential. I don’t think this is a 5 minute speech at the first practice type of material. This is an after every game, this is why we are about to go shake the other team. It starts and ends with who the young athletes look to for baseball knowledge – that’s you Coach!

Oct 20, 2011

Follow up: Why not start at the top – MLB Players should set the example…

by: Jim Nemerovski

Re: This question came up as the result of an ADULT, NFL football game incident, unintended as an offense by one, winning coach misinterpreted by the other, losing coach: it seems that the losing coach was so frustrated by his first loss of the season that he over-reacted to the coach who was graciously commending the losing coach on the excellent job he and his team demonstrated on the field: during a very close outcome…:

Jim Harbaugh has been consistent and clear: no apology for the positive spirit of competition but yes apology for the intense delivery of a hand shake, a harder slap on the back: he will work on that.

From my information, things took the wrong turn when Jim Schwartz appeared to be retaliating, while as stated publicly he intended only on continuing in a healthy rapport, an interaction, when a 49er player stepped in between the two coaches and may have unintentionally harmed Schwartz, thinking he was protecting his boss and leader from harm.

Then, later, violence ensued behind the scenes between the two teams: ugly and unfortunate territorial rites, payback: for bad sportsmanship?

This moment, apparently, as both coaches were in the running last year for the 49ers Head Coach position, could have been a moment leading us to higher ground but that did not occur last Sunday October 16, 2011 (while, simultaneously, as deceased competitor Al Davis was being honored in Oakland, CA, his Raiders experienced terrific highs ? a fake 3-point kick turned into a touchdown pass ? and lows ? their first-string quarterback is out due to a mishap while running the ball: in their struggle for dominance.)

This is what I have read and do not have first-hand information. But it does serve at least in the abstract as an example of how things can get out of hand when decorum and protocols of respect are not followed…

Disclaimer: if I don’t have some of the facts straight I apologize ad hope that this is taken in the spirit it was intended: as examples of how situations can get out of control when decorum and protocols are not followed.

There are reasons why they exist…

Oct 20, 2011

Can’t compare youth and grown men post game handshakes

by: Steve Hucke

Can’t compare Youth Handshake between teams to 2 grown men who have jobs based on if they win or lose! If anyone has to force Youth team to shake hands then the message of good sportsmanship has not been properly taught or modeled! Youth Sports is about be respectful of all of the participants whether you win or lose! Having coach all levels of sports and now college, I agree the focus becomes more about winning, but no matter what level you are at never lose main focus is respect of your opponent and sportsmanship!

Oct 20, 2011

Should we force a post game handshake?

by: Patrick

Just my two cents worth is, yes, they shake hands. If not, why have them go apologize to the kid that got hit by a pitch. Why bother? People need to quit worrying about being if it might be upsetting if someone shakes a hand too hard, insults someone and play ball. I see no correlation between the NFL coaches getting stupid and kids after a game in the 8-9 year olds shaking hands.

Oct 20, 2011

not sure my point is making its way acorss

by: Anonymous

These are all great responses and I am truly grateful. I guess my real question is this…Do the kids really know (are they taught) the real meaning behind the gesture of the post game handshake? Too many coaches teach a ruthless mentality but no balance of that with sportsmanship.

I was the biggest a-hole in the world when I played but I always respected my opponents after the game. DURING the game??? I would do everything I could to get under your skin and beat you but afterwards, I was respectful of the battle.

I just think too many kids don’t have that balance and because of that, the gesture is meaningless.

I’m not saying it’s wrong, I just don’t see the significance of it.

Really torn on this one. Thanks

Oct 20, 2011

Handshakes after a game

by: Anonymous

At the youth level I absolutely believe the teams should shake hands afterwards. I agree with everything Coach responded with when he answered this question. As he mentioned: It’s a GAME! Does it really matter at that level whether or not a team wins or loses? It’s about developing their playing skills and a love for the game at this level, and good sportsmanship needs to be instilled at an early age.

Oct 20, 2011

Be Grateful for Opponents

by: Anonymous

Be grateful for a worthy tough opponent. That’s what makes the game fun! Respect them for their role in this battle. Fight hard to beat them, but respect their value.

Oct 20, 2011

Why not start at the top – MLB Players should set the example

by: Jim Nemerovski

What separates the Pro and College; High School and Youth players apart when it comes to leaving the outcome of the game on the field? Nothing.

What would be the impact of the Pros returning to a post-game handshake between the two adversaries? If your reply is, “if anything truly significant came between the adversaries, during the game, it is likely that a fight would break out,” then you are reinforcing the point I am making:

MLB players need to set the example for kids and adults at the Youth level. Where else can the change begin?

Maybe, you believe and feel strong about the nature of the competitive nature of the game, that Baseball is an alternative to warfare, within a civilized society, but is also a violent rite of passage? I understand that perspective, but, the more advanced players are in the unique position to set a different example for all, civilizing usl:

do we encourage our children to be unrelenting in fierce competition during a Little League Major’s Baseball game? No: we expect them to be respectful at all times towards their own team mates; their opponents; the officials and all volunteer adults and:

their parents, setting example for their younger siblings, too.

This question came up as the result of an ADULT, NFL football game incident, unintended as an offense by one, winning coach misinterpreted by the other, losing coach: it seems that the losing coach was so frustrated by his first loss of the season that he over-reacted to the coach who was graciously commending the losing coach on the excellent job he and his team demonstrated on the field: during a very close outcome.

How awesome would it be if, after each game of the 2011 World Series and ongoing, the opposing teams and staffs lined up on the field and, positively shook each others’ hands; what if they each then shook the hand of the umpires?

Isn’t this the protocol we encourage and support each of our children to participate in from age 5 to 18?

Oct 20, 2011

Handshakes after a game

by: Anonymous

I believe that the handshake is a great idea and should be continued.It shows good sportsmanship after a hard fought game for example one of the many great things I like about hockey is that they still shake hands after a playoff series. It just shows class.

Oct 20, 2011


by: Clark

I think it’s very important at the youth level to promote a positive attitude in players. With many partents it is difficult to keep the good sportsmanship idea in place. It’s important for those of us that coach at the youth level to keep the balance ofdevelopment, competitiveness, and sportsmanship. As they grow and move on, the need for hand shakes and hug is not necessary. The play is for purpose and of a competitive nature.