Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Story of the High Five

As you know from my last post, we are really getting into the whole high five thing this year. Any opportunity to high five, we take it. We make anyone who comes to our office do a high five. And we take their picture. It's become a bit of an obsession.

If you know me at all, you know that I take my obsessions very seriously. I can tell you exactly where and how to get a panda as well as how much it will cost you. I can tell you every detail about the ABC Family drama Pretty Little Liars, including how the show differs from the novels (which I have never read by the way). I can give you a detailed account of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln including where the bullet entered his brain and what the blood stained pillow they laid his head on looks like. In fact almost any conversation that begins with the question, "Hey Aislinn, what kinds of things are you interested in?" pretty much always ends with the question, "So... Why do you know that?"

I'm not telling you this to freak you out (although I'm guessing at this point many of you may already be questioning any future interactions with me). I'm telling you this so that, when I say I am obsessed with high fives, you can trust that I've done my research on the topic.

So, you might ask, when-where-how did someone decide that slapping each other was going to be the new symbol of elation and celebration? The most concise answer is: it began with sports.

Somewhere between 1977 and 1979 athletes began high fiving each other as a physical expression of "good play" or "great game." There are two common stories placing the origin of the high five - either could be true. The first is that in 1977 the Dodgers blew out the Astros on the last day of the regular baseball season and to celebrate, Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke slapped palms. The second is that, in 1979, the University of Louisville basketball team started high fiving in practice. The gesture can be seen on highlight reels from that season and commentators were recorded using the phrase "the high-five handshake" to describe the teammates' interactions.

Here is the most important thing that I take away from all this. No matter which story is the true origin of the high five, it certainly originated in one of the decidedly American past times. The only way it could be more American is if a story turned up about two football players slapping hands on a first down. Which makes our world record attempt all the more perfect. On the holiday that celebrates the birth of America, we will show the world that Greensboro is the international capitol for the truly American expression of celebration. What a fabulous coincidence.

For more info on the world record attempt you can visit or our brand new Facebook page! Go ahead and "like" our page while you're there for updates as we get closer to the big day. Until then, High Five!

1 comment:

  1. Gimme 5 and High 5 were common at Dudley High School before I graduated in 1974.