Sports

Tom Izzo needs a stiff handshake and an even stiffer drink


Tom Izzo decried ending postgame handshakes as “typical of our country.”

Tom Izzo decried ending postgame handshakes as “typical of our country.”
Screenshot: Michigan State

Perhaps Tom Izzo was testing the mettle of his players Tuesday when he called getting rid of the postgame handshake line “the biggest farce… of anything I’ve ever heard of” right before getting drubbed by Iowa. If the sound of his voice doesn’t give away his gruff stance, anyone who’s followed college basketball during his tenure could’ve guessed his stance.

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It’s a solid take even if it is coming from Michigan’s in-state rival. If you didn’t know, Juwan Howard smacked an opposing assistant coach after a heated exchange with Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard in the handshake line.

Getting rid of the postgame tradition would be akin to doing away with “please” and “thank yous.” It’s good manners, and humility is never a bad thing.

I would stop short of this line though.

“Not shaking hands, that’s typical of our country right now,” Izzo said. “Instead of solving the problem, let’s make an excuse and let’s see if we can just, instead of confronting and demanding that it changes, let’s eliminate it so that we don’t have those problems. Let’s try to do that.”

What the fuck does anything have to do with Vietnam, Walter? I agree that looking an opponent in the eye and saying “good game” after they kicked your ass builds character. He’s also spot on when he says moments like those are when “you learn the most about people.” But to use it as a meta commentary on an entire generation is a little bit of a stretch.

How many “heat of the moment” cliches and idioms do I need to recite to explain why people would leap to the conclusion that it might be better to avoid highly emotional teams interacting with one another following the final buzzer. Remember LeGarette Blount knocking out a Boise State lineman right after Oregon was upset in their opening game of 2009? Or how about the infamous scuffle-inducing exchange between Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz during the aftermath of a 49ers-Lions game?

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It’s not illogical to suggest eliminating situations such as these after incidents like the Howard-Gard dust up. Izzo himself said watching the melee evoked memories of the Malice at the Palace.

Regardless, “canceling” sportsmanship would be dumb as shit — especially when the Michigan State head man had to, as he so forcibly said, “man up” later in the evening and congratulate the Hawkeyes for bludgeoning his team 86-60.

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I tried to find footage of the Michigan State-Iowa postage pleasantries (for irony and for Wolverine’s fans sake), but since they went off without a fracas, you’ll have to trust that Sparty did as their coach said they would do and put ’er there.

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