Fred Carter, widely credited with popularizing the fist bump, said he’s prepared for its demise as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. He also said he thinks the high five and bro hug will suffer the same fate and the elbow bump might not survive long, either.
“There’s no more — no pun intended — skin in the game,’’ said Carter, 75 and a former NBA player. “No skin touching. There’s no transfer of germs.’’
And so, there's a bleak future for the ways in which Americans have celebrated with one another and greeted one another for decades.
A sign of the times: The board of the National High Five Day was set to meet Monday night and it’s all but certain the group will encourage people to exchange only virtual high fives, said Greg Harrell-Edge, co-founder of the National High Five Day that started in 2002 and is held the the third Thursday of every April. This year, it is slated for April 16.
Carter noted the high five didn’t even exist when he introduced the fist bump in 1969, his rookie season with the Baltimore Bullets.
“What happened was, in the locker room, being a rookie and all, you’re trying to get the guys pumped up,’’ Carter told USA TODAY Sports. “So before games, I went around the locker room and balled my fist up and reached out to guys and guys tapped me on the fist and it became the game of fist bump.
“That was not the intention, but that’s what we had.’’
Glenn Burke, an outfielder who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the late 1970s, is widely credited with inventing the high five. A photograph shows him exchanging high fives with fellow Dodger Dusty Baker in 1977 during a game between the Dodgers and the Houston Astros in what some consider the first high five.
Though the high five long reigned supreme as a way to celebrate, Carter pointed out that the fist bump gained new prominence when Barack and Michelle Obama used it to celebrate on June 3, 2008, after Obama won the presumptive Democratic presidential nomination.
But as the coronavirus outbreak spread, Carter said, the elbow bump has come into vogue. But he said he wonders if that might go by the wayside if people increasingly adhere to social distancing recommendations, such as staying six feet apart.
And even after the coronavirus pandemic ends, Carter said, he does not expect a resurgence for the high five, fist bump and bro hug.
“Everybody’s going to want their space,’’ he said.
Follow Josh Peter on Twitter @joshlpeter11.