From Little League to the professional leagues, both teams shaking hands at the end of a game has been a tradition in many sports for decades, but is it time for this post-game ritual to retire?
In 2020 the NBA and NFL banned post-games handshakes as a health precaution to lessen the spread of Covid-19. Health regulations aside, whether athletes should shake hands after games has been debated for years, and the reason is simple. A lot of athletes don’t want to, and many people feel as though they shouldn’t have to.
Being on the losing end of a handshake isn’t a pleasant feeling, and it’s understandable why most athletes don’t want to put themselves in that position; however, we need to look at why this tradition exists in the first place.
Children are taught before they can even swing a bat properly or make a layup to shake hands or fist bump the opposing team after a game, whether they win or lose. Why? Because good sportsmanship is the foundation for becoming a decent athlete. Good sportsmanship is an important value to instill in children. As they get older and their passion for the game grows, respect for their opponents should grow too. Post-game rituals emphasize that good sportsmanship and class is alive and well.
Some people raise concern for post-game rituals by pointing out that altercations can occur after games while both teams are supposed to be giving each other respect. This is unfortunate, but it isn’t necessary to discard a tradition because some people abuse it. In baseball, pitchers intentionally hitting batters is a concern, but you don’t see the MLB trading in their pitchers for pitching machines as if they’re in the 8 and under league.
It’s not right to discard something good to avoid a slight chance of conflict, and post-game rituals are a good thing.
It’s important that we don’t let acts of sportsmanship fade in any age group or level of sports. It doesn’t matter whether athletes shake hands or turn towards a more socially distant alternative such as fist bumping or waving, as long as they’re engaging in some form of post-game ritual that allows them to show good sportsmanship and respect toward their opponents.