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Sportsmanship policy approaches approval

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Coaches of Kanawha County Schools' athletic teams should encourage their players to shake hands after athletic events.

But, if they decide the atmosphere is too hostile for the students to shake hands, then they can forgo the practice.

That's how most members of the Kanawha school board read the new county "good sportsmanship" policy proposed Thursday during its regular meeting. It's the second time board members have discussed such a policy, and school principals are happier with the new one, board member Robin Rector said.

"When you read (this draft) you'll see a lot of the issues they were questioning I think have been addressed. Their primary one was they did not want to be mandated to shake hands," Rector said.

The idea for the policy arose after allegations of trouble following a football game between George Washington High School and Hurricane High School. Following late penalties and two player ejections, coaches decided not to shake hands.

"Nothing good was going to come out of it if we shook hands," said Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor, according to Daily Mail records. "I told our athletic director and their athletic director that. It was no disrespect to them or their school."

Board member Becky Jordon was not happy after those actions, and called for a policy.

Most of the students won't become professional athletes, Jordon said Thursday night, and she thinks those who participate in sports should act like gentleman and ladies. She did not approve of the first draft presented, but thought the new draft was much more understandable and adequate.

Board President Pete Thaw did not. He doesn't think the board should get into the coach's or principal's "bailiwick" when it comes to dictating actions at games.

"Now you say that we leave them latitude, but we really don't. When you have a policy, it's a policy," Thaw said.

"Some of these coaches don't want their players mingling after the game because it's nothing but trouble, and that's the way it is. They're young men, all excited after the game, and it's just a bad time."

The principal that have called him aren't happy with the new policy, he said. The policy won't work when, in his opinion, other schools don't have to follow the same rules.

"There are some schools that we play regularly that do nothing but cause trouble," Thaw said. "And you're putting us at their mercy."

Other board members did not agree.

The policy states students are "encouraged" to shake hands after the game. It also states a coach need to behave in a manner as to "eliminate any action that would unnecessarily athletes under his/her supervision or members of the crowd."

Thursday was the first reading of the policy. The public is able to make comments about the policy for the next 30 days, before it comes back to the board for a second reading.

A full copy of the policy is available on the Kanawha County Schools website or at

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or Follow him at


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