Tag Archives: basketball

Press Down/Pat Head

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 at the collectors house after eating dinner.

Transcript:

Collector: Are there any basketball gestures that only players or super-fans would know?

AW: Oh for sure. Two that kind of go together are when a player pats their head or presses their hand down by their side *gestures to collector*.

They are kind of opposites but also very similar if that makes sense? When a player pats their head after making a basket or playing good defense, it is them boasting about how they are bigger than the person guarding them. But when a player presses down, they basically refer to how short or small the person guarding them is. So if a player makes a basket after being guarded, they can press down or pat their head as a boast of how big they are compared to the other person. It just depends on if they want to refer to their height or the other players lack of height. I think it’s pretty f*cking funny.

Pat head gesture
Press down gesture

Thoughts/analysis: These two gestures are a reflection of basketball and sports culture overall. When the players do well, they do not just praise themselves as individuals, they do so by putting other players down in a competitive way. This form of body language not only exhibits confidence in one’s self, but it is also used to get into the head of the opposing team. Overall, I thought these gestures were fun because it conveys a strong message without using words that could get players flagged for misconduct. It could also be interesting for teams to create variations of this that are unique to them. That could create a special identity for them.

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.

Transcript:

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.

Secret Santa/Secret Sister Gift Exchange

Background: The informant is my college roommate and friend. She spent the first fifteen years of her life in Minneapolis, Minnesota before moving to Thousand Oaks, California for high school. She is currently in her twenties and attends school at the University of Southern California. She was on a women’s basketball team all four years of high school.

Main Piece:

“So Secret Santa is basically where you have a group of people come together and anonymously everyone gets assigned a person and they either buy them multiple gifts or just one and then you do like a gift exchange at a certain ate and then you try to figure out who your secret Santa is, or you just find out when you get your present.”

Context: Beyond the brief description my informant gave me, she clarified a few additional logistical details. Secret Santa, or Secret Sister as they called it, was done every year on the high school women’s basketball team. The team captains organized it for about fifteen participants, and people filled out a premade form of things they liked (favorite color, favorite movie, favorite candy, etc) to make shopping easier. There was a fifteen to twenty-dollar spending limit. The informant isn’t entirely sure on the timeline, but she thinks that people dropped off gifts in the locker room shortly before the first home game of the season and opened them when they were done playing (in January usually) She also remarked that people liked to guess who their gift-giver was, but there wasn’t any sort of process or reward for guessing correctly.

Thoughts: It’s interesting that my informant referred to this exchange as both “Secret Santa” and “Secret Sister”—besides the process of gift-giving, nothing else ties this ritual to the Christian celebration of Christmas or Santa. Instead, it’s built entirely around a sports team folk group, and occurs in January to correspond with the first home game of the season, rather than the holiday in December. I’ve seen longer versions of this “Secret Sister” play out in both high school sports teams (always women, and always multiple gifts spread out over an entire competitive season) and in university sororities. I wonder if men’s sports teams and other club organizations also do something similar and if so, what term it would fall under, since “Secret Sisters” is gender-exclusive and “Secret Santa” implies a Christian/holiday-centered context.

March Madness Kentuckian Folk Belief

Main Text:

JE: “During college basketball season, specifically March Madness, we will all go over to Jordan’s Aunt’s house ad watch the University of Kentucky play basketball. Grapes are like a staple for when watch basketball games so we eat grapes during the game because it is almost like a good luck thing. And then at the start of the season wherever you sit in the house, that has to remain your seat during march madness. Also, if you go to one game you have to go to all of them. You can’t just go to one game. And if we win a championship, like a March Madness championship we have to burn a couch as a celebration and good luck for the next year’s season. Another thing is that if you go outside for any reason and the score starts going up for any reason in Kentucky’s favor then the person who went outside has to stay outside until the game is over. If we start to lose and we did not do anything to make it happen, you have to start eating like snacking. For example, if for every single game you go in and eat except for one and that game the Kentucky’s team starts losing then you have to go eat in order to undo the loss of points.”

Collector: “Is there any reason that you eat grapes specifically?”

“No I don’t think so, my aunt just always has them out on the counter.”

Context:

When I collected this folk belief from JE I asked him why his family passes down this belief that they all have to sit in the same seats for March Madness in order to provide luck to their team and he said that this process has been passed down ever since his grandma was little… so for like three generations so it just makes sense for them to continue doing. He also said it acts as a way to remember and celebrate the life of his grandma who had passed away. I also tried to get his opinion on why he thinks that they eat grapes and he said that it was because my his aunt just always has them sitting out on the counter.

Analysis: 

This folk belief can be explained by analyzing the region in which it is centered around and performed in. This belief focuses mainly on March Madness and even more specifically on the University of Kentucky’s performance in the tournament. According to JE, in Kentucky basketball is probably the most watched and biggest celebrated sport for college. Adding on to this, since the University of Kentucky is the most watched basketball team by many Kentuckians except for those found in Louisville, it is understandable that his family generations ago created a tradition upon the belief that where they sit will provide luck to the University of Kentucky during their games. Based off of the content that I collected from JE, when one is in Kentucky, it is like a state identity to always root for the University of Kentucky unless you happen to live in Lousiville where you would then root for the University of Louisville.

Putting this together, this folk belief was created as a way to provide support for one’s state basketball teams and also to be used as unifying one who practices it as a person of Kentucky (in other words as an identity marker).

Linsanity

This entry was given to the interviewer through digital means. The interviewer asked the informant, Sahit, about any legendary stories in the NBA he knows because of Sahit’s die-hard obsession to the sport. He replied with a certain player’s meteoric rise in the NBA, an era called Linsanity, named for Jeremy Lin

 

“Linsanity started off as a pretty mundane thing in the NBA. One of the more athletic players, Jeremy Lin was rising through the ranks in early 2012 when players like Kobe Bryant were in their prime and no one had heard of Jeremy Lin before this. Players in the NBA do get better, but no one ever did it as fast as Lin did, until his performance against the Lakers with Kobe at his prime. Just a year before this he was considered a poor player, and even a month before he was seen as a bench player, at best. The day of the Lakers game, it was fair to say that no one expected him to put up even 20 points, let alone 38 points. He even forced Kobe to play for longer than he intended to and still outscored him. This was the pinnacle of Linsanity”


The interviewer thought this story was interesting, but he heard a different spin on the Linsanity era. As far as he had known, the reason for the large amounts of attention Lin was getting was due to a minority’s increased prevalence in the league. He can definitely appreciate just how the era of Linsanity must have felt to his fans and NBA viewers. Lin was in the league knocking on the doors of the greats, having been dismissed completely just so quickly beforehand.