AIA ends tradition of official participation in after-match handshakes at soccer games

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Arizona Interscholastic Association soccer players shake hands after a game. 19 Jan. 2018 (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) Arizona Interscholastic Association soccer players shake hands after a game. 19 Jan. 2018 (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
New rules say referees will not shake hands with players after a soccer match. 19 Jan. 2018 (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News) New rules say referees will not shake hands with players after a soccer match. 19 Jan. 2018 (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Unsportsmanlike conduct on the soccer field has the Arizona Interscholastic Association changing a long-held soccer tradition. 

High school referees have now been instructed to leave the field and not shake hands with the players after matches. 

Soccer is the only sport where the officials stick around after the game to shake hands with the players. But the A.I.A. says recently sportsmanship has become a lost art among some teams. 

"This is an extension of the classroom. This is where the youth of today learn values that can only be taught in sports," said Brian Gessner, A.I.A. State Commissioner of Officials. "We can't lose sight of that, and today we are losing sight of that." 

They say some players, parents and coaches were abusing officials. 

"There was physical contact, whistles were being pulled off the officials, general lack of good sportsmanship," said Gessner. 

This change was made two weeks ago. The A.I.A. says it's already noticing an improvement.

"It's better safe than sorry. I hope it becomes a reflective lesson for our school and for other schools to discuss that with their players and understand maybe we would get that back if we could encourage some better sportsmanship," said Kristin Martell, mother of a Glendale Prep soccer player.  

At the end of Friday night's match between Northwest Christian and Glendale Prep, referees followed their new instructions, leaving the field as players lined up to thank one another for a good game. 

"I kind of wish that they didn't do away with it because I think it teaches the younger kids and the younger boys respect. But I'm sure in the long run years from now they're not going to remember," said Dana DeHart, mother of a Northwest Christian soccer player. 

"Sportsmanship is attitude, and attitude can be taught, so we'll win this," said Gessner.

Gessner says the A.I.A. will next be To be looking at changes to basketball, seeing if there are ways to improve player and fan treatment of officials there as well. 

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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