The handshake is dead, long live the Bro Bump

By Brad Salmen

Sports Editor

So no matter your age, race, gender, religion, nationality, health, wealth, sexual orientation or political affiliation, we can all agree on this one thing, right?

Life right now is just straight up bonkers.

It’s just so … weird. And eerie. And uncertain. And a little scary. Or a lot scary, depending on your news sources.

And it came on so quickly, that’s the wildest thing about it. One week we’re hearing rumblings about this new virus that’s shutting down parts of China, and the next people have decided that three pallets of toilet paper is the only thing that will save them.

What makes it even more difficult is that we’re being bombarded by all kinds of different information. On the one side we’ve got professional scientists at the WHO, CDC, and other various agencies telling us one thing, and on the other we’ve got Auntie Edith passing on memes on Facebook telling us another. I don’t know who to believe.

Sports were among the very first casualty. And rightly so. If the pandemic truly is as dangerous as claimed, there’s no reason to crowd arenas so we can cheer on men in colorful jerseys throwing a ball around. It’s not worth the risk. As much as we love sports, it’s ultimately insignificant in the big life-or-death picture.

At the same time, sports are a big part of what make life enjoyable for millions of us. It’s no coincidence that when all the major sports started cancelling or suspending their seasons, that that’s when it truly sunk in for Americans that this was the real deal.

And I’ll be honest, for me life without sports is a few shades duller. I enjoy watching sports on TV or at the ball park, and I looked forward to watching my kids participate in sports this spring.

Oh, and it’s also my job as well. So there’s that.

Speaking of which, if you’re wondering what I’m going to be doing to fill the sports pages over the next few weeks, the answer is, I don’t know. I’ve got some winter sports reviews I’ll be parceling out over the next couple weeks, and some ideas for some columns and features, but beyond that … let’s just hope everyone takes heed of the precautions put in place by our elected officials, and the curve flattens out soon.

That’s actually my biggest fear – that too many people will pay attention to Auntie Edith instead of, you know, the people who make it their life’s work to become experts on the subject. You don’t need to be fearful, but you do need to be cautious.

Your grandparents were asked to go to war. You’re being asked to sit on your couch. Think about it carefully and act accordingly.

 

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One other casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic is a demise I’m not really mourning: the handshake.

I’ve always been ambivalent about the importance of a handshake.

“You can tell the quality of a man by the grip of his handshake,” goes the old adage, spouted by old-timey men in fedoras.

Nonsense. You can’t judge someone’s character by how firmly they grasp your hand. My grandmother is among the most honorable people I know, with the tenacity of a viking warrior. But she’s elderly, and has the grip strength of a five-year-old.

But it’s a tradition, traditionalists say. And indeed it is, and among our oldest traditions. Fun fact, it dates back to 5th century Greece, as a way to show each other that they were unarmed.

Well you see then, say traditionalists. We can’t just throw away something that we’ve been doing for 2,500 years.

To which I say, yes, yes you most certainly can. Traditions should be valued by among other things their utility, not their age. It’s why we Americans don’t wear powdered wigs anymore – because someone in the 1800s looked around and said, you know what, this is stupid and we look silly.

I suspect there will be a number of people that will dig in their heels on this, like used car salesmen. I went to buy a car with my daughter the other day, a couple days before all the sports started getting shut down. The salesman seemed like an ok guy despite his fedora. We went on a test drive, agreed on a price, and got set to sign the papers.

The salesman brought in his sales manager, decked out in a sharp suit and tie. On instinct, the first thing the sales manager did was offer his hand for a handshake.

I politely declined, explaining I was uncomfortable because of the whole coronavirus thing, and also I had just gotten over a cold (which was true).

It totally threw him off his game. He remained cordial, but subtly insinuated the whole thing was overblown.

I bought the car anyway. We found out later it had a number of undisclosed issues.

So if not a handshake, what are the alternatives?

There’s the fist bump, which a lot of sports teams are doing now after games in the handshake line, instead of actual handshakes.

There’s the full Japanese bow, but that will never be accepted in American culture because it’s a sign of submission, and we don’t submit to nobody ‘cept the flag.

There’s the salute, but outside of the military, those always look sarcastic.

There’s the bro nod, the “’sup” tilt of your head. You do a downward tilt if you don’t know or recognize the person, and tilt it up if you do.

Solution –I suggest combining the bro nod and fist bump into the “bro bump.” You heard it here first.

Either that, or the Vulcan salute.

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