Flex: A Basketball Gesture

AW is a 19 year old college student. She is a freshman computer science major and loves basketball. She played as a child and closely follows professional basketball today.

Context: This is performed during a basketball game, both amateur and professional. This was collected over dinner at the collectors home.


Collector: What does it mean when a player flexes?

AW: It comes from when a player scores an AND1, which is pretty much when the player scores despite really tough defense and being fouled. When a player scores a bucket on an AND1 they flex their arms as a boast of how good they are. Boast and just to say, “Yeah, I’m the shit”. When they flex, their teammates and even fans flex too.

Collector: Is that something you participate in yourself?

AW: Definitely when I’m watching a game. It’s fun and it might sound corny but you feel connected to the players and other fans. That’s my favorite part, I think.

Flex gesture

Analysis: Sports play a significant role in American culture. There is jargon between all sports but gestures are something that remains unofficial but still largely shared. This gesture specifically is shared between the performer and the people around them. The knowledge of this, like with other gestures, is social and serves the same function as jargon and sayings.