The Marmonte League rule prohibiting high school athletes from exchanging postgame handshakes is facing a groundswell of sportsmanship.
From the baseball fields of Newbury Park and Westlake highs to the softball diamond at Camarillo, athletes are pressing the flesh in seeming defiance of the regulation, which was unanimously approved in March by Marmonte League principals alarmed over an escalation of post-competition altercations.
"I think it's a dumb rule. It doesn't make any sense," said Chris Flanagan, a Westlake High senior pitcher who, with his teammates, shook hands with his Newbury Park rivals after Friday's baseball game.
"We've known these guys for four years. They beat us, but they beat us in a fair way. If we get punished (for shaking hands), I don't know what to think."
Punishment in the form of a reprimand already has found its way to Camarillo softball Coach Darwin Tolzin, who opposes the rule and has allowed his team to shake hands with the opposition throughout the season.
However, since Tolzin was scolded Friday by Camarillo Principal Terry Tackett, don't expect to see the Camarillo softball team exchange postgame handshakes in the near future.
After Thursday's Thousand Oaks-Camarillo softball game, the teams exchanged handshakes. The following morning, Tolzin said he was "called on the carpet" by Tackett, the driving force behind the rule.
"Let's just say I will never shake hands again this year," Tolzin said. "I should have adhered to it. The other coaches (at Camarillo) have. It's a rule and I should have followed it. I took it a lot lighter than I should have."
Tackett could not be reached for comment.
Although Tolzin continues to personally oppose the rule, he said he will not cut off his nose to spite his face.
"I will adhere (to the rule) because I like doing what I'm doing," said Tolzin, a walk-on coach and president of the Ventura County Softball Coaches Assn.
Many players--from a number of sports--share Tolzin's distaste for the regulation, but unlike Tolzin's players, will continue to shake in defiance.
Keith Smith, a pitcher and shortstop for Newbury Park, said he and Westlake shortstop Scott Morris had talked about the handshake ban after a chance meeting at a local theater several weeks ago, and agreed at that time to shake hands after Friday's game even if it was only the two of them.
"And we did," Smith said. "The rule is no good for baseball. You have to teach good sportsmanship--that's what we've been taught since we were little. In the Marmonte League, a lot of people know (each other); we're all kind of friends."
Camarillo baseball Coach Jack Willard also disapproves of the regulation, but has adhered to the rule.
"The way I look at it is it's a league rule and we won't shake hands," Willard said. "Although nobody asked me . . . it's a league rule."
Three Marmonte League teams are scheduled to play in the Camarillo baseball tournament next week and Willard plans on shaking hands with Simi Valley and Westlake after the nonleague games.
Westlake tennis Coach Grant Calkins said his players also shook hands with Newbury Park after a 14-4 victory Friday. In fact, they shook hands throughout the afternoon with no second thoughts.
"Tennis was specifically exempted (from the ban)," Calkins said. "It has been from the start, because it's an individual sport instead of a team sport. Each match begins and ends with a handshake. We laugh about it."
While tennis players are yukking it up, baseball players are calling administrators' bluff.
"I don't think they will punish us," Westlake pitcher Todd Singleton said. "I think it will blow over and (league officials) will forget about the rule because they are getting so much pressure about it."
Jim Coleman, Kennedy Cosgrove and staff writer Dana Haddad contributed to this story.