Whatever happened to handshakes and ties?

First Posted: 6:15 am - December 14th, 2015

By Jim Fowler - Times Columnist

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OK, let’s determine as a fact that I am a bit of an old-fashioned guy. Some may even say that I tend to live in the past at times. I won’t argue with those assumptions, but I still feel that my ideas and observations have some relevance in today’s society. We’ll see what you think!

As you can see, I am asking a simple question in my column title. Whatever happened to handshakes and ties? What brought this question to my mind was my attendance at a few basketball games over the past couple of years. What I saw there just caused me to think.

I coached basketball at Yatesville High, Upson High, and R.E. Lee Institute from 1970-1980. In about 250 basketball games that I coached during that decade I wore a tie, usually with a jacket or at least a sweater. As I recall, every coach that we opposed did also. Yep, that was some 40+ years ago, but does that really matter?

Today when I go to a game, I see the coaches in casual shirts or school logo shirts. Some don’t even tuck their shirt tails into their pants. They look like they are at practice! If I were the principal I believe that I would have to make a subtle recommendation to my coach on how to dress properly at a game.

I seldom see a tie. Am I asking too much? Has time changed so much that representing your school and team with attractive and traditionally-proper attire is obsolete? I don’t think so!

I remember that we even required our players to wear ties. Oh my goodness! Don’t try that today. The kids would revolt! I remember on more than one occasion that opposing fans and gate-keepers told me that our players were the best-looking and most well-behaved group that they had seen all season. It seems that the kids really took pride in looking good. They loved to hear the positive comments. It didn’t win us any games, but that’s a story for another time.

I just think that a well-dressed coach in a coat and tie really makes a good image for a school and team. It shows class and dignity! I’m not saying that today’s coaches don’t have class and dignity, I’m just saying you have to find it in places other than their game attire.

And the handshake – where’d it go? It seems that all of the players at the games I attended want to ‘bump fists.” Things have gone from the handshake, to the hand slap, to the fist bump. Handshake?

Many times during pre-game player introductions the players will go over and greet the officials. They always fist bump! Same thing happens when the players greet each other before the pre-game jump ball. Are they afraid of getting a disease from someone else’s hand? Is it quicker? Is it easier? Are they just copying someone else who did it? Are they trying to be “cool?” Beats me!

In my opinion there is nothing more masculine and sincere than a strong and firm handshake. It shows respect, sincerity, and a trustworthy greeting. I don’t know what a fist bump shows. They look lazy and disrespectful to me. I’ve even seen fist bumps miss the target. Yep, completely miss the other fist. What does that show?

I know – I know. There are more important things to be concerned about and I’m just an old-timer refusing to recognize and embrace changes.. Probably so, but I happen to think that in these cases, I am the one who is right!

Come on high school basketball coaches – put on your coat and tie and get back to shaking hands. Teach your players how to greet people in the proper way – with a good firm handshake.

There – I feel better now!

Jim Fowler is a sports columnist and retired teacher and coach who worked in the local school system for many years. He is a founding board member of the Thomaston-Upson Sports Hall of Fame and is also the statistician for the Upson Lee football team, and has written a book about the history of football at R. E. Lee High School.


By Jim Fowler

Times Columnist



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