Toward the end of eighth grade, I took the New York State Regents Exam for algebra. A few days later, my math teacher told our class that three of us had aced the exam and gotten a score of 100 — “Miss Imhof, Mr. Baker, and Mr. Lukas.” Upon hearing my name, I turned slightly in my desk and pumped my right fist. It was 1978 and I was 14 years old.
This probably wasn’t the first time I’d done a fist pump, but it’s the earliest I can remember having done one. I don’t know how I learned to start doing it, although I assume I picked it up from watching sports, because athletes are always pumping their fists. That includes players in team sports (football, baseball, basketball, soccer, etc.) and also individual sports (tennis, golf, etc.). Coaches tend to pump their fists too. Also fans. Also just about everyone else, and not just in the sports world, although I still think of it as a sports-based phenomenon.
I’m sure the arbiters of cultural mores once considered fist pumping to be unseemly, or too showy, or too “Look at me,” or too coarse, or too evocative of violence, or too undignified (all of which is somewhat true), but that ship sailed long ago. Fist pumping has become so common, and seems like such an instinctively and intuitively obvious thing to do in certain situations, that it’s easy to think of it as a natural, organic expression of exuberance that we’re hard-wired to do, like laughing or grimacing. But of course that isn’t true. I’m fairly certain nobody was fist pumping 100 years ago, and I suspect there are many parts of the world where it isn’t currently practiced. In other words, fist pumping is a product of nurture, not nature.
Not only that, but fist pumping styles appear to have evolved over the years. Consider: A little more than 10 years after I aced the algebra exam, Kirk Gibson of the Dodgers hit his now-legendary home run to win Game One of the 1988 World Series, and he gave one of history’s classic fist pumps as he rounded second base:
It’s interesting to note that Gibby pumped his fist inward, toward his body. (It almost looks like he was shifting gears on a tractor trailer.) As I recall it, that’s how I did my eighth grade pump as well — down and toward my waist. You don’t see that pump style very often these days. It’s more common to see the fist pumping forward, which is slightly more aggressive. When did the inward style give way to the forward style?
For that matter, when did fist pumping begin, and how did it catch on? Can its origins be traced to the sports world? If so, which sport?
Meanwhile, here’s one more question to ponder: Since fist pumping is just a cultural trope that happens to be in favor at the moment, will it one day fall out of favor? And if so, will a different gesture rise to take its place?
Discuss. (And while you’re at it, here’s a something good to listen to.)
’Skins Watch: Some asshole showed up for last night’s Giants/Washington game in full redface. Classy. ”¦ An Indiana high school that will no longer call its teams the Redskins after Jan. 1 is now accepting proposals for a replacement name. Interestingly, suggestions will be accepted only from the school’s current students and alumni (from Terry Mark).
Baseball News: Reader Jeffrey McClendon’s cousin sent him some late-’70s photos from Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Good look at the old red BP tops. ”¦ When the Pirates clinched a playoff spot in Colorado the other night, the Rockies’ clubhouse staff provided them with champagne and even arranged the glasses in the shape of a P (thanks, Mike). ”¦ White Sox 3B Mike Olt has his Billy Pierce memorial patch above the Minnie Minoso patch, while the rest of the Sox have it the other way around (good spot by Jim Hall). ”¦ Hmmm, look how high the “NY” logo seems to be positioned on Yogi Berra’s hemet. Never seen that before (from Jesse Agler).
NFL News: The Giants wore their white alternate pants and white cleats for last night’s game against Washington. ”¦ Good way to ensure you won’t be taken seriously: List the Cardinals as one of the NFL’s six best uniforms (thanks, Phil). ”¦ If you don’t have the rights clearance to show a real NFL jersey in your TV commercial, maybe you just shouldn’t bother. ”¦ Wait, you mean the “G” isn’t for “Greatness”? That and other uni-related myths debunked in this Q&A with the Packers’ team historian (from Jeff Ash). ”¦ Some jokes just write themselves: The Browns are going mono-turd this Sunday. ”¦ Key quote in Gregg Easterbrook’s lastest TMQ column: “Perhaps the football gods are angered by the Saints’ decision to stick with the unpopular Nike collared uniforms, which make Drew Brees look like a headwaiter” (from Douglas Ford). ”¦ Hyundai, which is an NFL corporate partner, has joined in on the Super Bowl golden/50th hype by displaying two full-size gold cars outside its corporate HQ in Orange County, California (from Amanda Punim). ”¦ No photo, but according to this story, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has been wearing socks with Ben Franklin’s likeness (from Jerry Wolper).
College Football News: Blackout uniforms this weekend for Dartmouth. Here’s a closer look at the new black helmet (from Tris Wykes). ”¦ Lots of teams are wearing those thigh pads with raised logos (from Lauren Gudalis). ”¦ Arizona will wear chrome red helmets this weekend (from Storm Byrd). ”¦ UNC will wear solid white this weekend. ”¦ Houston will have new uniforms for the game against Vanderbilt on Oct. 31 but will not reveal them until game day (from Patrick Thomas). ”¦ Oklahoma State is adding a memorial decal for a staffer who just passed away. Interesting to see the centered decal position — we more typically see teams putting such decals off to one side or the other. ”¦ Speaking of which, new memorial decal for Colgate. It’s for two freshman — not football players — who died in a plane crash this week (from Ryan Dowgin). ”¦ New white helmets this weekend for Northern Arizona (from Robert Walsh). ”¦ Boise State is going mono-white this weekend. ”¦ Auburn has added a helmet decal for rormer SEC commissioner Mike Slive. who’s battling prostate cancer (from Jeffrey McClendon). ”¦ We often talk about football pants getting too short, but some players are wearing their pants too long. To see what I mean, check out the player at far left here (from Dustin Semore). ”¦ Memphis’s QB wore an untucked base-layer shirt last night with “Blessed” printed on the shirttail.
Hockey News: The Hurricanes have posted their third jersey schedule for the coming season (from Kenny, who didn’t give his last name). ”¦ Check it out: Yogi Berra playing hockey, in uniform! That’s from 1948, when he was working out with a minor league team in Missouri (from Jonathan Daniel). ”¦ New BFBS alts for the London Nationals. ”¦ Volkswagen is selling VW hockey jerseys at their U.S. dealerships. Gonna take more than that to repair the damage from their latest scandal, though. ”¦ Our DIY friend Wafflebored has made himself a very cool goalie’s chest/arm protector. ”¦ New throwbacks for Marshall University’s club team. ”¦ Montreal’s team in the Women’s Canadian Hockey League has a new name and a new logo.
NBA News: Here are the dates when the Pacers will wear their Hoosiers-inspired throwbacks — six games at home and four on the road (thanks, Phil). ”¦ Speaking of the Pacers, they’re donating uniforms to an Indiana high school (from Andrew Lehman). ”¦ Here are the Lakers’ new socks (from AdÃ¡n Encinas). ”¦ New logo for NBA Cares, the league’s global outreach arm. ”¦ The Cavs have listed their throwback dates for the coming season (from Bill Solich). ”¦ Jeremy Lin did a Q&A on Reddit yesterday. When asked what was the craziest thing that happened to him during Linsanity, he answered that he received a jersey made of Fruit Roll Ups from General Mills (thanks, Mike).
College Hoops News: Oooh, check out Minnesota’s awesome warm-up tops from 1990 (big thanks to Devin Driscoll). ”¦ New uniforms for Rhode Island. ”¦ New unis for Nebraska, too (from Ben Matukewicz). ”¦ New sweatbacks for Kentucky.
Grab Bag: Aussie rules football news from Graham Clayton, who writes: “Due to the redevelopment of Claremont Oval, WAFL club Claremont has used the Claremont Showground as their temporary home ground in 2015. One of the unusual features of the ground is the scoreboard, which is located on the far side of an equestrian enclosure next to the oval.” ”¦ Sean Clancy checks in with this cycling tidbit: “New world time trial champion Linda Villumsen is in trouble with her United Healthcare team for riding (and winning) the individual time trial in Richmond, Va., on a blacked-out bike that was not provided to her by the team’s bike sponsor, Wilier.” ”¦ Also from Sean: Sandpaper on a bike saddle is not a good idea. ”¦ Everyone knows there are only two kinds of people in this world. The key is finding the right way to divide them up: Lefties vs. righties? Innies vs. outies? Cat people vs. dog people? Vegetarians vs. omnivores? People who put the toilet paper roll under the bottom vs. over the top? Those aren’t bad. But the metric identified in yesterday’s installment of Bloom County is better.