Sports is a realm in which the rules for human touch are different than in real life. We can all agree that grown men are not normally tapping each other on the buttocks, but in a football game, this is the norm.
In the realm of office work or retail work, touch is rare. Perhaps we fleetingly graze hands with a clerk in a store when money is exchanged. In the work of coaching, touch is frequent.
It seems like there is a natural human magnetism for touch. A hug is a good example of this way of showing affection, support, and even love.
On a scale of one to 10, cheerleading is a touchy sport, like a 10. While there are opportunities for individual movements, probably 75 per cent of the routine is in contact with teammates. Bases are typically chest-to-chest to support the flyers. And in a pyramid structure, the bases are also in close proximity, back-to-back.
As I write this weekly column, I am amazed how life guides me to explore these different aspects of cheerleading. I have never really analysed the aspect of “touch” in the sport before this week. Now, when human touch has become taboo, and even an indictable offence in some jurisdictions, it gives me pause.
Maybe the closeness, and the intermingling of hands, feet and the variety of holds, feeds a natural appetite that we all have. I know from my experience as an adult athlete, there is a closeness we all feel. The rules of professional distance are put on hold. Normally, I would never have my hand on that person’s upper thigh, but here at the gym at cheer, it is OK. After this phase of social distancing, I expect people will feel the craving for sport and touch.