Male athletes sometimes touch each other's backsides. Not that Hopkins is by any means a socially "normal" school, but I think I would be correct in stating that in most places, even at Hopkins, a friendly tap on the behind from male-to-male, or even male-to-female, in public, would be questioned. And that's what this article is about. Why do athletes smack each other's asses? Luckily, here at Hopkins, not only do we have male butt-smacking athletes, but our ass-slappers manage to also excel at a highly competitive institution, reflecting their intuitive nature and - dare we say it? ?- scientific expertise on the topic.
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.
However, 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 asses."
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." Who knew that the ass smack held such profundity?
Freshman tennis player Dan Myers obviously does. He 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?'"
Now that they had explained the requirements and described a few meanings behind the mystery of this motion, the athletic gentlemen were also eager to rationalize the gesture. "High fives are becoming outdated.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 ass can be used any time." Freshman men's fencer Jim Pearse thoroughly defended the tush touch by sending me the following statement:
"Dear Mary, 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 ass. 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 ass if you feel he is slacking. Not only is that fact, that's science.
"Cordially, Jim Pearse."
Could it be put more clearly? Pearse even gave us a historical perspective of this fanny phenomenon. Myers, however, holds a more evolutionary view of the smack, hypothesizing that the smack "came around from the punishment of being spanked. This punishment was turned into a sexual act - don't ask me why ?- and then later turned into a slightly homoerotic way of guys keeping each other on their toes. Eventually, it turned into what it is today."
And though the Hopkins men's athletes appreciate the tushy token as it is today, Myers is quick to point out that there's one thing the male butt smack can't compare to. "Although the slapping of another man's backside is a great thing, the slapping of a woman's behind is on a whole new plane of awesomeness."
Though it may never reach this plane of awesomeness, the men still have high hopes for the future of this derriere delight. Walsh predicts that one day the gesture will be incorporated outside of the athletic community. "I just wish that I could bring this habit off the baseball field into my 'other' life. Got an A on a test? I believe a little butt slap is quite appropriate."