Planking, the internet-craze where people lay face down with their bodies straight in odd and sometimes dangerous places, spread worldwide this summer.
As photos of people Planking continuously appear on social networking sites, a debate has started about Planking’s right in the sports world. The debate whether Planking is a sport or merely a unique photo fad is one where neither side of the argument is backing down fast.
The point of Planking is to take pictures of your body flat and parallel in odd, unusual places. People are seen in photos on bar counters, on top of cars, balancing off of balconies, on top of street signs and more.
Like a sport, the act of Planking comes with rules. The following rules come from the official Planking Facebook page.
“1) You must always lay face down, ensuring your face remains expressionless for the duration of the Plank. 2) Your legs must remain straight, and together with toes pointed. 3) Your arms must be placed by your side, held straight and fingers pointed. 4) You must make it known that you are Planking. Saying ‘I am Planking’ usually gets this across. Sternly announcing it will ensure a good result. 5) Your safety should always be considered. Properly thought through Planking procedures should always go to plan. Never put yourself at undue risk. 6) Every Plank that is captured must be named.”
This craze has gained attention though popularity. The Planking official Facebook page had 690,728 likes at time of publication. Photos of Planking are growing in commonality on social media websites.
“There’s no doubt whatsoever about its popularity,” said Pacific University’s director of the Berglund Center for Internet Studies, Jeff Barlow in an interview with ESPN Page 2’s Patrick Dorsey’s “Should planking be considered a sport?”
The start of Planking came with The Laying Down Game. Though the spark of Planking’s popularity is thought to have started with Rugby League star David “Wolfman” Williams. He performed a Plank on national live television during a match in Australia. Athletes have picked up on Planking boosting its popularity and making Planking a household term.
Not only have citizens across the globe partaken, but celebrities such as Katy Perry, tennis World’s Andy Roddick, Justin Bieber, NBA’s Dwight Howard and Gilbert Arenas, the National Hot Rod Association’s John Force, along with many others have partaken in Planking.
With this popularity, the places people are Planking have become increasingly dangerous and risky. Thus far, the ultimate downside of Planking would be death. One reported death is on record with cause as attempted Planking. Fox News reported May 20, 2011 that 20-year-old Acton Beale fell to his death from a seventh floor balcony in Brisbane, Australia while attempting a Planking stunt.
The interest in Planking can be interpreted many ways. Because of the oddity of the fad, Dorsey said many just find it funny. To delve deeper, he added, Planking can be understood as a form of body control along the lines of protest. He also said, Planking can be seen as a rebellion against the oppressions of society.
Founder of Pacific University’s Hip-Hop Club, Michael Furuya, sees Planking as a form of body art.
“The theory on any kind of performance art is the harder it is,” said Furuya. “The better it is.”
But mainly, Planking is being used to fuel people’s competitive sides. Whereas lying on the ground doesn’t take much effort, balancing while Planking off of store signs, or a basketball hoop does take an amount of skill.
For the most part, Planking can be done by anyone, anywhere.
“If you can do it, you can do it,” said Furuya. Although one must have athletic skill to really be competitive in Planking, others can have little to no athletic abilities and still take part in the Planking frenzy.
Recreation or a photo off rivalry, Planking is in the beginning stages of finding its place in the world.
“I don’t imagine we’re going to see it in the Olympics anytime soon,” said Barlow in “Should planking be considered a sport?” But said, “You could see it as a sport.”
Others aren’t as open to the idea. The Australian Catholic University in Australia has warned students that Planking will result in consequences. The University’s student association chairman, Damien Montesin, insists that this precaution is about making the campus a safe place. In line with that ban, South Australia as a whole is debating banning Planking to discourage risky behaviors.
If not sport then recreation, this fad hasn’t died yet. With the addition of professional athletes and celebrities in on the competition for most outrageous Planking photo, the debate continues, but its lifespan is questioned.
“Its just Planking, its one common move,” said Furuya. “I see its future if someone makes a variation of it. It could survive if they turned it into a form of dance.”
But Furuya also said, “Like any sport, there’s improvements. If people want they will keep setting the bar higher.”