WINDSOR, Colorado — The owner of a youth sports facility in Windsor has made headlines after he said his leagues will do away with the traditional postgame handshakes due to concerns about heated verbal exchanges or even physical violence.
Michael Peterson, the owner and founder of Power2Play Sports, said the decision is about safety … and the change isn’t because of kids, but instead the adults who are supposed to teach them sportsmanship.
“We rarely see an incident between students,” Peterson said. “That’s not the biggest concern that we have."
“We have concerns about adults who are preaching sportsmanship being unable to display it when the battle of a game is over.”
During an interview with 9NEWS, Peterson couldn’t cite a large example for the change in policy. He did say there have been numerous small incidents – prompting his organization to advocate for handshakes ahead of games instead of before them.
He says a change in culture is responsible for his decision to buck a decades-old tradition.
“I think it’s extremely competitive. It’s different than it was in the 70s, 80s and 90s,” Peterson said. “The current status is aggression.”
Peterson also said that high schools have an easier time keeping things civil after games because players could face strict punishment for fights, including suspension.
After-school and weekend programs like his don’t have the ability to place those same sanctions.
“In youth sports, there is no national regulatory system in place that holds parents and coaches accountable for inappropriate behavior,” Peterson said.
He says his facility hosts 10,000 games per year. And afterward, instead of lining up and exchanging handshakes, players, coaches and referees can meet in the player’s lounge.
“I think everybody has good intentions,” Peterson said.
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