To Shake or Not to Shake

by Dale Reeves

Story Pastor


After two long years, the fans are back in the seats in the gyms. Several major upsets have already taken place in the first round of play. The Saint Peter’s Peacocks, representing a student enrollment of just 3,600 students from Jersey City, New Jersey, found the Cinderella glass slipper to fit just right. Fourth-year coach Shaheen Holloway led his team Thursday night as they knocked off the blue-blood Kentucky Wildcats in overtime. After picking up the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win, Holloway didn’t show any emotion because he believed his team had a shot at this. Even though they were an 18.5 point underdog! As the final buzzer sounded in their 85-79 shocking win over heavily-favored Kentucky, Holloway didn’t celebrate. He simply got his players together to participate in the postgame ritual of shaking hands with their opponent.


In his postgame interview, Coach Holloway commented, “No disrespect to anybody, but we weren’t coming down here just to lose. We came down here to fight and we did.” The good news is that there was no brawl between coaches and players after the game.


Until recent years, we just casually watched the postgame hand-shaking line between opposing coaches and players. It was common courtesy for each team to line up and shake hands after a well-fought battle on the hardwood. The same thing takes place after Little League baseball games and high school football games, among other competitions. It’s something that was expected to demonstrate that no matter who wins and who loses, of utmost importance is the good sportsmanship that is exhibited on the field of play.


We no longer take it for granted, as we have witnessed YouTube videos of irate parents physically attacking coaches and referees after a game that is supposed to be about developing the character of kids.





Crossing the Line

Almost a month ago, at the conclusion of the Michigan/Wisconsin basketball game, Wolverine Coach Juwan Howard got upset when the Badger’s coach, Greg Gard, called several timeouts in the last minute of the game when they were leading by fifteen points. After Wisconsin won that contest. as they were walking through the line, coach Gard stopped Howard in the handshake line, leading to the two men exchanging words before being surrounded by a few players and coaches. Howard put his finger in Gard’s face and grabbed his sweater before Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft leaned into the middle of the scrum. Juwan Howard then reached out and struck Krabbenhoft’s face, setting off both teams’ players as they began pushing, shoving, and throwing a few punches.


The Big Ten Conference suspended Coach Juwan Howard for five games and fined him $40,000 after the incident. Three players also received suspensions. Later, Howard apologized, “After taking time to reflect on all that happened, I realize how unacceptable both my actions and words were, and how they affected so many. I am truly sorry.”


The incident set off a debate in the college basketball world. If William Shakespeare were here in 2022 watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament, he might have one question for us to ponder today: “TO SHAKE OR NOT TO SHAKE: THAT IS THE QUESTION.”


Where’s the Respect?

Commenting on whether or not the handshake line should be done away with in order to prevent future hostilities, Georgetown men’s coach Patrick Ewing said, “Anything can happen to make things worse” after a heated battle. Thus, Ewing is in favor of getting rid of this postgame protocol. Longtime Michigan State coach Tom Izzo took the opposite view. He feels that eliminating the handshake line would be another indictment of our society’s current direction. Coach Izzo comments,


“That, to me, would be the biggest farce, joke, ridiculous nature of anything I’ve ever heard of. We’ve already taught these poor 18-year-olds that when you’re told to go to class and you don’t like it, you can leave. We’ve already told these kids if you’re not happy you can do something else. We’ve already told these kids that it’s hard to hold them accountable, and now we’re going to tell them not to man up and walk down a line on someone who’s kicked your butt and have enough class to shake their hand is utterly ridiculous!”


Whether or not you agree with Patrick Ewing or Coach Izzo’s stance on the postgame ritual, I think you have to ask the question, “Just what are we teaching our kids?” We see in the news every day in our world, our country, and our community glaring examples of too many children who have zero respect for authority which has led to major problems in our schools, homes, and marriages. Our prisons are full of those who never learned to respect authority as kids or college students.


Years ago, in 1967, R & B icon Aretha Franklin sang, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.” And we’re still trying to find “just a little bit” of it. Christ’s Church’s teaching pastor, Brad Wilson, will continue talking about the DNA of our church this coming Sunday (Click Here to Watch) as he addresses this timely topic of mutual respect.


The apostle Peter challenges us with these words, Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:17, NIV). When we fear God above everything else, when we love him, we will honor and respect those who are created in his image—even if they do things we don’t like. Consider that when Peter wrote these words, the reigning Roman emperor was Nero, a despot known for his cruelty to Christians.


I love watching March Madness, cheering for the underdogs, and watching some of those teams destroy my bracket picks each year. But my deeper hope and prayer for our society is that we would see beyond the scores and the games and ponder this question regularly:


“What are we teaching our kids?”

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