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Gimme high five

Posted by ESC on October 25, 2007

"...In 1980, the U of L (University of Louisville) Cards were big fans of the low five. After practice and games, they were always slapping hands in celebration. One day, player Wiley Brown went in for a low five with his left hand. (Always with the left; he's missing a thumb on his right hand. Who ever heard of a low four?) Before both hands could clap, player Derek Smith stopped him.

'No,' Smith said. 'High. Gimme high five.'

And there it was.

Brown never asked Smith why he went high, but as the season progressed all the way to the national championship, they kept slapping hands over their heads. Soon, they started jumping. With players far taller than 6 feet, this was not a five for the meek. National TV coverage spread the gesture and lingo across the nation. Slapping hands was nothing new, but Brown says it's no coincidence that the phrase high five caught on about then.

'All of a sudden, it was a reaction: just do it high,' says Brown, now the head basketball coach at Indiana University Southeast. We were trying to raise the roof with it'

...High fives, like the thumbs up and the A-OK symbol, are called emblem gestures: they matter only because the community has attributed meaning to them. In the case of the high five, the meaning to us is obvious: Good job! You rock! I rock! Together, we rock!..."

From "The lowdown on high fives: Kentucky naturally spawns greatness: Lincoln, bourbon, Clooney; the list goes on. Is it true, as the T-shirt at left confidently attests, that it gave birth to the righteous gesture called the high five, too? We investigate" by Jamie Gumbrecht, Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., October 25, 2007 .