"Now I'm not only a Mormon cliché; I'm also a puppy." - Claudio
Question #38360 posted on 08/13/2007 3:01 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

What is the origin of the butt slap in sports?

-clothed mole rat.

p.s. Fantastic choosings on the new writers, especially meanest flower, I'm oh so impressed.

A: Dear clothed mole rat

The sports butt slap. Now that is an interesting topic, and one that comes up somewhat regularly when watching that greatest of sporting events: college football. So what is the origin of this gesture, which in any other walk of life is at least awkward, and possibly grounds for legal action? We don't see lawyers, after a stunningly good defense, walk back to their seat and get a derrière tap from their client.

This article, from the Johns Hopkins Newsletter, is pretty humorous and offers the following insights gained through research and interviews concerning the athletic butt slap:

1) Butt-slapping is not to be engaged in wantonly: "Freshman soccer player Neil MacLean gives us a simplified, general rule for when the butt slap is appropriate. 'You're not gonna slap a guy's caboose unless you're real tight with the guy," he claims.'"

2) Not all butt slaps are created equal:
"According to freshman lacrosse player Max Levine, there is a complex system underlying MacLean's general policy. 'I personally think that the closer teammates are with each other, the farther down their slaps will be.' He elaborates, 'Two teammates who aren't best buddies tend to slap each other on the shoulder or upper back. Teammates who are pretty tight go for the mid to lower back. Teammates who see each other as brothers go for the real deal and slap each other's [butts].'"

3)There are unspoken rules and guidelines that regulate the art of the butt slap: "There is also a specific way to speak the buttocks language, according to freshman baseball player Brendan Walsh. 'No cupping or squeezing; its got to be quick and painless, just to let them know I'm there.'"

4)Not all butt slaps mean the same thing: "
Freshman tennis player Dan Myer [...] seems to truly understand the essence of the athletic spank, explaining, "Well, a nice smack on the butt could mean anything. It can just mean, 'Nice job,' or 'You'll get them next time,' but it can also mean simply, 'Hi, how you doin'?', or 'How's that essay coming along?', or, 'Wow, your butt is pretty muscly today. You been working out?'"

5)Butt slaps are a natural evolution from high fives, and require less coordination: "'High fives are becoming outdated. Handshakes work, but eye contact is made and it takes too much time. The celebratory dance is used, but only on special occasions,' freshman football player Michael Stoffel says. He concludes: 'A smack on the [butt] can be used any time.'"

6) One of the fencers at Johns Hopkins, Jim Pearce, had this intriguing theory about the origin of the butt slap (and it uses Chuck Norris, so it must be a pretty solid theory): "I believe this is a simple matter of equestrian tendencies for the male gender. Every man desires to be a cowboy; look at Chuck Norris in Walker Texas Ranger. The man epitomizes machismo. So, ultimately if Mr. Norris needs to travel quickly, how can he motivate his horse to move faster? He slaps its [butt]. Likewise with sports, men need to commune and help motivate one another as a team. It's standard practice and common courtesy to slap another man's [butt] if you feel he is slacking. Not only is that fact, that's science."

And there it is, the butt slap analyzed. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did, and if you did, just imagine you're giving me a virtual butt slap, and I'll imagine I'm receiving one.

-Humble Master
A: Dear everyone,

GOOD GAME!

Heh heh heh....

-Uffish Thought, who has lived in several butt-slapping apartments, and knows how it goes.

P.S. This is pure speculation, but it seems like a combination encouraging backslap and a push onto the field, but delivered close to the center of gravity so your players don't overbalance or trip. Plus, it's strangely addicting--just spend some time in my past apartments, and you'll see.