Monday, September 24, 2012

The High Five is Ours!

Did you know that the anniversary of the “high five” was coming up on October 2?

It may sound inconsequential — and probably is, by comparison to many other anniversaries, like your own or Independence Day. But think about it. It is one of the most popular non-verbal forms of communications, and it only started in the late 70’s. Isn’t that kind of amazing?

I bet people have been shaking their heads from side to side or up and down to say yes and no for centuries. Probably people have been waving goodbye for longer than that! And people shaking hands is, no doubt, a greeting that goes back to Methuselah. Of course, I am guessing, but you get the point. The “high five” is a lot newer than you might have expected.

According to Wikipedia, the first “high five” occurred between Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke of the Los Angeles Dodgers on October 2, 1977. After Baker hit his 30th home run, Burke was waiting for him “on deck” as he rounded the bases and thrust his hand enthusiastically over his head to greet his friend at the plate. Baker said he reached up and hit Burke’s hand, because it seemed like “the thing to do.” And so the “high five” was born.

Another version of the origin story, from around the same time, involved players from the University of Louisville basketball team, where one player went to give another a “low five” and the other one said, “Why are we staying down low? We jump so high!” He raised his hand and the “high five” was born.

So there you have it. The custom of slapping palms together is a demonstration of optimism and enthusiasm. We are reaching for the stars. We are collaborating. We are touching — and in touch with — each other.

Most of all, the “high five” is a positive symbol that is contagious and one that America can claim as its own.

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