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Have We Seen The End Of The Handshake In Sports

  • Former Murray State standout Ja Morant and Belmont's Dylan Windler shake hands following the conclusion of the 2019 Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball championship game.

    Former Murray State standout Ja Morant and Belmont's Dylan Windler shake hands following the conclusion of the 2019 Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball championship game.
    SPYDER DANN | mdann@dailyregister.com

 
By Spyder Dann mdann@dailyregister.com
updated: 7/7/2020 5:20 PM

A handshake -- the universal sign of respect and decency -- could be on its way out the door in the sports realm.
When the IHSA Stage 2 Return To Play is set in motion a lot of guidelines must be followed and perhaps lost in translation is one of the last bullet points is: No handshakes, high fives, fist bumps, hugs, etc., can occur pre or post match.
And perhaps with that one sentence, the end of the handshake will go away due to the COVID-19.
The virus is mostly spread through respiratory droplets, either by breathing them into the lungs or by touching a surface that has droplets on it and then touching the face.
No matter the sport, some forms have already taken shape.
In Indiana, where baseball travel teams are getting in their swings, will tip their cap to the opposing team after a game.
"When we talk about maximum transmission [of the coronavirus], the hands are the place where I focus on the most. When we talk about the high-five and also the handshake, this is almost the perfect pathogen to spread it," Dr. Neel Gandhi, a professor of infectious diseases, epidemiology and global health at Emory University, recently said in an interview.
Locally, it's unknown what pre or postgame handshakes will look like. Many area coaches are split on their feelings.
John A. Logan College men's basketball coach and Harrisburg native Kyle Smithpeters said he would hate to see the handshake go away, but does believe that whatever it takes for people to be safe and for teams to compete is what's important.
"Most of these guys really already know each other. They've either played AAU together or against each other and that level of respect is already there. A handshake isn't really necessary. Most of them are on social media talking after the game anyway, The hand shake line is a tradition, but if its a sacrifice to be safe, there is nothing unsportsmanlike about that."
Smithpeters adds that he doesn't feel anything being asked is impossible and can be done at a satisfactory rate wit the right plan in place.
"We follow all the state guidelines," Smithpeters said. "We've always been cautious during a season, long before the outbreak. We have hand sanitizer on hand and constantly wipe things down. We pay a lot of attention to things like that."
Because there is still so much uncertainty about this strain of the coronavirus, doing little things to minimize contact, such as getting rid of the high-five, will be beneficial.
When asked if the coronavirus will bring about the end of the high-five and handshake, Gandhi said probably.
"Of all of the things we would say we would advise against, the high-five and the handshake are two in the current era, in the current pandemic, [that] we should not continue to use," he said.

Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.