At almost 53 years old, my birthday is less than two weeks away, I’m old enough to remember when pro and college athletes simply shook hands to celebrate a home run, touchdown or game winning basket. Not all the fancy handshakes, either. Just the old-fashioned white guy regular hand shake, the missionary position of hand shakes.
Do I miss the “good ol’ days”? Nah, sports are much more entertaining now than in the leather helmet days when baseball players wore what looked like pajama pants, the only dancing at football games was by those waiting in a long bathroom line to get into a glorified outhouse and the dunk was as shocking as streaking across a basketball court.
In the early 1980’s, the Louisville Cardianal basketball program featured mostly black players dunking early and often, celebrated by a new phenomenon, the high five. Even though it’s doubtful that Louisville invented the high five, the high-flying Louisville Cardinals brought the high five to a whole new mass audience in becoming regulars at the NCAA FInal Four, winning National Championships two or three times in the decade of the 80’s.
The high five soon spread to other sports and became a fixture well into the 90’s that continues to this day somewhat. 90’s sitcom Seinfeld featured mechanic turned car salesman David Puddy with an entire episode centering on the high five and a few variations of the celebration.
The high five spawned the low five, not anything covered up by a box of popcorn in a dark movie theater, but a hand slap close to the ground, and a number of other hand jives.
The fist bump is a more recent development which has been going on for awhile. Apparently Fox News had not gotten word of the fist bump until Michelle Obama fist bumped her husband, Barack Obama at some point in the 2008 Presidential campaign. A reporter for the fairly unbalanced Fox News (or rarely balanced, take your pick) referred to the Obama fist bump as a “terrorist fist jab”.
Then, at some point in recent years, the high five,low five and other celebrations became passe in favor of the chest bump, hip bump and full body bump as athletes purposely bump into one another, sometimes in groups of three or more, as they leap into the air following a touchdown or orther big play.
Like a mosh pit at a punk rock concert, pro sports, particularly the NFL, have become a hotbed of chest bumping, hip bumping, and full body bumping in recent years. the chest bump is sort of a variation of moshing, thrashing, slamming or whatever the current term is.
The chest bump started off well enough, it was something new, and if not fresh, at least not as stale as the high five and low five had become. The problem is that chest bumping has become so commonplace in sports from the NFL to the local rec league, that, in my opinion, it’s time for athletes or would be athletes to come up with some other form of celebration. I mean, when a 62 year old lame duck President of the United States is doing the chest bump, hasn’t the celebration become as contemporary as a Foghat concert?
On May 30 of this past year, President George W. Bush chest bumped a young airman at the Air Force Academy in what surely will prove to be the demise of the chest bump as we know it. What with so many professional athletes “packing heat”, who’s to say they couldn’t have a gun in their uniform pants, leading to a “plaxident”?
You know, the new term someone coined referring to the accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound recently suffered by New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress as he fumbled for a drink and pulled the trigger of a .40 caliber Glock at a night club? Maybe that’s the real story of how Burress shot himself. A young lady bought him a drink, he celebrated with a chest bump of teammate Antonio Pierce, and the gun went off.
As if the suspended Plaxico Burress didn’t have enough problems, now a Broward County, Florida, woman has sued Burress for allegedly rear-ending her car last May and not having insurance on his $140,000 Mercedes. With all these recent problems, maybe Burress should be dubbed “Plax-Man” Burress.
Yet another plaxident for Burress, who likely won’t be a New York Giant in 2009. The Detroit Lions are looking for players and Plaxident, I mean, Plaxico Burress played collegiately at nearby Michigan State..
Anyway, a few years back Bill Gramatica, then kicker of the Arizona Cardinals, was roundly ridiculed when he tore his ACL while celebrating a game winning field goal. What will happen when a player suffers a season ending injury chest bumping? Is there not enough physical contact in football already? Brett Favre has become famous for his butt slaps of teammates, usually hard enough to simulate a spanking. Teammates of Favre’s speak of his random, surprise butt slaps in practice and games.
There has to be some sort of celebration that athletes can do to celebrate a good play somewhere between the old white guy “act like you’ve been there” blase` handshake and the overworked chest bump. I just don’t know what it is yet, that’s another article. Is the chest bump “jumping the shark”? Yes. Is coming up with a new form of celebration change we can believe in? Can someone come up with a new celebration? Yes, we can!
To sum up, when unpopular 62 year olds start to pick up on a trend, it’s over. Can you imagine if John McCain and Sarah Palin had been elected, and chest bumped at the inauguration? McCain might have bounced back, hit his head on the podium and Sarah Palin could have become President. Is that not reason enough to discontinue the chest bump? You betcha.