It’s amusing to see how behavior evolves in sports.
When the public address announcer introduced the starting lineups in basketball games in the 1970s, players would dutifully run to the free throw line or center court line and wait for the rest of the introductions to be made.
Somewhere along the way in the last 20 years, players at both the high school and college level started coming over to greet the officials for a fist bump, high five or handshake.
I’m not sure how or why that started, but my guess is it started as a gesture of good sportsmanship. Or, maybe a coach hoped it would give him or her an edge over the other team. Eventually most teams adopted the same format.
Another wrinkle has since been added. After a fist bump with the officials, the player goes to the other coach for a fist bump or another style of greeting.
At the high school level, players can usually find the opponent’s head coach or at least a top assistant, but at the collegiate level, good luck. The head coach is often busy with other matters and not interested in exchanging pleasantries with the other team’s starting lineup.
That leaves the player looking for someone else to fist bump, which may be one of the assistant coaches or someone lower on the totem pole like the team manager.
That begs the question: is all of this fist bumping really necessary? Is it really good sportsmanship? I suppose there’s no harm in the practice, although there were a few times I can remember as a basketball official when clashing knuckles temporarily caused momentary pain.
Let’s not kid ourselves. No one seriously wishes the opponent “good luck.” It’s just something players are asked to do, allegedly in the spirit of good sportsmanship. Truth be told, it’s a habit, nothing more and nothing less.
Another trend that developed involves players greeting or welcoming their teammates as the starting lineup is introduced. That involves a chest bump or some other rigamarole, the definition which is “a set of confused and meaningless statements – a message that seems to convey no meaning.”
Wouldn’t it be ironic if a player landed badly and twisted an ankle during player introductions? Try to explain that to the coach.
As an official, I jokingly suggested to my partners that after a particularly good call, we should give each other a chest bump, but that suggestion never gained traction, which is probably a good thing. I might have lost my balance and fallen down.
Of course, that brings up the obvious question — who thinks officials ever make particularly good calls?
On the plus side, it’s interesting and mildly amusing to see if the players come up with anything new or creative.
How players behave during and after the game is far more important than before the game anyway.
When fouls are called or there’s a violation, players are supposed to hand the ball to the nearest official. Most will toss the ball or bounce it to the official, but occasionally you will come across a team which clearly has been coached to run to the nearest official and politely hand him or her the ball.
It’s a nice gesture, but it’s not a practice that the majority of players follow. By and large, it only happens when a coach makes it a point for players to politely hand the ball to an official. It won’t help a player get any calls or breaks, but it does leave a favorable impression on an official, and that’s never a bad thing.
Maybe some of us are simply behind the times. Maybe we should incorporate the fist bump, chest bump or high five in the workplace. Well, maybe not.