There is something sacred about the post-game handshake. It is a time when players and coaches put their competitive natures aside and congratulate one another on the game they all participated in. I always enjoy walking off the field as an official watching both teams cross and give one another a handshake. It is a special moment that epitomizes the ideal of respect for your opponent.
Then there is this:
That video of an adult coach tripping two youth hockey players is one of the most despicable actions I have ever seen. SportsCenter did a piece on this video, and apparently the coach was sentenced to fifteen days in prison for assault, 12 years of probation, and a lifetime ban from youth hockey coaching. One of the players that he tripped suffered a broken wrist.
I do not have enough negative words to describe the depths of my contempt for this coach. All I can really say after watching that video is that he broke the sacred trust between teams to not carry resentments from the game into the handshake. He also assaulted at thirteen year old – let’s not forget that.
In nearly every lacrosse game I have participated in as a player, coach, and official I have witnessed two teams cheer the efforts of their opponent and shake hands like gentlemen shortly after the final horn. I believe it is an essential element of a lacrosse game. Those handshakes put the game firmly in the books, and signifies the transition from competitors to citizens.
That transition is important for players of all ages. The handshake marks the end of all the trials that the players and the teams went through during the game, and shows that all the players on both teams are willing to move on no matter how the game ended. The hockey coach in that video decided to sully a sacred moment while the players on each team had their guards down. That is cowardly, cheap, and flat-out dirty.
Let’s all commit to giving the respect our opponents deserve by giving a firm handshake, and congratulating one another on a game well played.