Kentucky's scholastic athletic governing body is advising state high schools to stop conducting post-game handshakes — a softer stance from officials' initial language that seemed to indicate an outright ban of the practice.
The reason for the drastic measure aimed at the time-honored tradition?
Over the last three years more than two dozen physical confrontations have occurred after contests have concluded, according to WKYT-TV.
Although state High School Athletic Association Commissioner Julian Tackett doesn't cite specific fights or conflicts, he says several sports have suffered post-game incidents this fall, including one volleyball match.
"You're on notice," Tackett tells WKYT of the directive. "If you're going to do this, you're going to be accountable." In other words, fines and penalties.
It's worth pointing out that state officials used stronger language initially, WKYT reports: "It is hereby directed that teams and individuals do not participate in organized post-game handshake lines/ceremonies beyond that interaction that is required..."
But after a social-media backlash Tuesday when the news broke, WKYT says the wording was changed to: "It is prescribed that teams and individuals do not participate in organized post game handshake lines/ceremonies beyond that interaction that is required ... and the individual unorchestrated actions by individual competitors."
One thing that hasn't changed: game officials are to immediately leave facilities after contests are over — and also risk penalties if they don't.
Tackett tells WKHY that some parents "chase them off the fields, follow them to cars, not to mention the language that's used."
A decline in sportsmanship is apparent in other states and by multiple parties, says Bob Gardener, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations.
"We have seen that erosion occur at almost every level; almost every state association can point to an incident like this," Gardener tells WKHY. "If that's what they feel is in the best interest, then the loss of that opportunity [to develop sportsmanship] is something you have to live with."
Tackett tells Fox News the unfortunate reality: "If you have 75 players shaking hands, you'd better watch what's going on."
Here's a report from WAVE-TV:
And a look from WYMT-TV: